SHAWN SAVAGE is one bad motherfucker, but how bad can you be if you haven't see the gore splatter flick that put Texas and chainsaws to shame in the early 80's Today Shawn writes about Pieces, his "first time" and makes the argument for its inclusion in the Italian Horror world (which is completely justified in this doctor's opinion). Shawn runs The Liberal Dead and is my cohort in crime along with Jeff Konopka and Jesse Bartel on the Dead Air podcast.
You can check out Shawn's other work here:
The fact that pieces exists in the first place isn't shocking, there are lots of over-the-top movies out there, some watchable, some not so much. None of them are quite as absurd as Pieces. I'll admit that most of my interest in this film has always been in-part because of the love Eli Roth has for it. I'm not afraid to admit that I love that guy's work – all of it – and when he says something is awesome, I tend to listen. I didn't even know that Pieces had garnered such a cult following up until a couple of years ago. I knew that Grindhouse had rescued it from obscurity, and released a fantastic DVD release(which was the source of my viewing), and that they'll probably be releasing a Blu-ray in the immediate future, but recently I've seen major T-Shirt companies releasing special edition shirts, to the point that they sell out. I see people mention Pieces all of the time. I don't know if this started before, or after Grindhouse Releasing put it back in front of the mainstream's eye, or before or after Eli Roth was speaking at screenings of the film. Hell, I don't even know if all of the people that talk about this film all of the time have actually even seen it. But I do know that this ridiculous little Italian splatter film has embedded itself into our popular culture, far more than most films of its ilk. Is it as well-known as something like Cannibal Holocaust? No, most definitely not. That film is so infamous, that even if you haven't seen Cannibal Holocaust, you've seen Cannibal Holocaust. There are no animals slaughtered in pieces, so no infamy. What Pieces delivers that Cannibal Holocaust does not, however, is entertainment. Don't get me wrong, I love CH. I think it is one of the most important films that came out of the eighties, and still influences horror to this day, but it's not entertaining, in any sense of the word. Pieces, however, had me laughing my ass off. Some of the lighting in the film is entertainment in and of itself. When the killer's entire body is obscured by unexplained darkness, that seems to follow him around as he creeps near his victims is a nice play on an early horror cliché, and turns out chainsaw-wielding killer into a cartoon character.
“You don't have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre”, is the famous tagline for this film. More people have probably heard that tagline, than have actually seen the movie. It is very catchy, and absolutely accurate. You get far more “chainsaw massacre” in this film that you do with almost any TCM flick. Yes, the violence in Pieces is hilarious, but it exists at least. How many people did you see get chopped up with a chainsaw in TCM? Were any of them literally sawed to pieces and stacked into neat little piles? Nope. You get all of that and more with Pieces. Also, just as the whodunit aspect of the movie, as utterly incoherent and riddled with red herring as it is, starts to build steam, we venture into a dark alley for for a random display of kung-fu. It is a completely unnecessary scene, but oh, so hilarious. Also, in one of the scenes when the killer is attacking one of his victims with a knife, he throws her onto the bed, jumps on top of her, and drops his knife down beside the bed as he does. He stuck it out, though, and managed to retrieve it without losing a beat. It was fantastic, and I laughed out loud. I think I even messaged James right after scene to express how hilarious I found it to be. Honestly, I tried to keep in touch with him all throughout my viewing, so that he would know how much I truly appreciate what Pieces is. This may have been my first time, but it most certainly will not be the last. Pieces is the ultimate party film. I can't wait to get a group of friends together, alter our minds in one way or another, and press play on this thing again. I know that some of you will argue that Pieces doesn't qualify as Italian horror, but doesn't it? Does having a Spanish director take away any of its fine Italian horror qualities? I say, no it does not. It is very much an Italian horror movie, both in heart, and in technicality. It has all of the bright red spatter, and quirkiness that we love in every other Italian horror movie, so why not? Sure, it was filmed in Spain, and partially in Boston, but how many Italian horror movies were filmed in New York? I may not be as well-versed in the world of Italian cinema as some of you, but I have seen my fare share. I have seen most popular Italian horror movies, and I quite frequently purchase Raro Blu-ray releases, so I have seen some of the not-so-popular Italian genre films as well. Pieces fits category perfectly. Now come on, Grindhouse, bring on that Blu-ray you've been teasing!