Pieces (Juan Piquer Simón / U.S.-Spain-Puerto Rico, 1982):
(Mil Gritos Tiene la Noche)

The preamble rhymes the pieces of a salacious jigsaw with those of a mutilated scolding mother, and adduces a promising whiff of Ensayo de un Crimen: The boy is interrupted in his pastime, then continues calmly, covered with blood. Four decades later, the wanton hacking resumes in a Euro-hack’s vision of a New England university, where coeds turn up with missing body parts. Who’s the cape-and-fedora campus ripper? The dean (Edmund Purdom, a thrift-store Richard Burton)? The spindly college "stud" (Ian Sera)? The epicene anatomy professor (Jack Taylor)? The huge, lumbering groundskeeper (Paul L. Smith)? Detective Christopher George, at the splatter-caked scene of the crime: "Now, could that have been done with a chainsaw? Like that one over there?" The scariest thing is the Eighties score, which oscillates from Casio music boxes to what sounds like electronic keyboards mauled by pumas, though the dubbing of the chick in the white sweater ("The most beautiful thing in the world is smoking pot and fucking on a waterbed, at the same time") is art of some sort. The token Kato kung-fuing out of nowhere, a victim wetting her pants (in close-up) as the maniac’s blade buzzes nearer, Lynda Day George bellowing every possible inflection of the word "bastard" -- the Juan Piquer Simón touch. The unveiling of the murderer’s Freudian gore-masterpiece is a nice finish, even if Vadim’s Pretty Maids All in a Row had already told the tale in an intentionally funny way. With Frank Braña, Gérard Tichy, Hilda Fuchs, and Isabel Lugue.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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