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(aka "Mil gritos tiene la noche" or "Le sadique Ó la tronšonneuse" or "Le cri du cobra" or "Chainsaw Devil" )

 

directed by Juan Piquer Simon
Spain/USA 1982

 

In 1942, a young boy butchers his mother with an axe after she catches him assembling a puzzle of a naked woman. Forty years later, the now-grown killer stalks coeds at a Boston college with a chainsaw to assemble his very own girl to be fitted in his bloodstained mother's dress and shoes. The first victim is decapitated in broad daylight, but the student body is too preoccupied "smoking pot and fucking on a waterbed" to notice. The suspects include the cock-eyed, chainsaw-wielding gardener Willard (Paul L. Smith, POPEYE), the biology teacher Professor Brown (Jack Taylor, THE GHOST GALLEON), and the Dean (Edmund Purdom, THE EGYPTIAN); since the main action is set "Forty Years Later" it really narrows down the viable suspects. Tennis pro/police officer Mary Riggs (Lynda Day George, MORTUARY) infiltrates the campus as the new tennis teacher while Lieutenant Bracken (Christopher George, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD) and Sergeant Holden (Frank Bra˝a, FABULOUS JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH) mill about. Rather than assigning Riggs to keep an eye on possible witness Kendall (Ian Sera, THE POD PEOPLE), Bracken asks Kendall to keep an eye on Mary. Kendall and Mary contend with sleepwalking karate teachers, sleeping partners who ask to be gagged, and Willard's glare, but the "lousy bastard" of a killer manages to accumulate more "pieces" to his puzzle without getting caught, and it seems that Mary may be next. Although the more popular tagline for the film is "You don't have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre," the film's alternate tagline "PIECES - It's exactly what you think it is" seems a better match in tone for the stupefying experience that will greet first-time viewers. It isn't "Exactly what you think it is" but it attempts to give you exactly what you're thinking. There's nudity and gore aplenty. The effects are not always convincing but they are executed with gusto. Utterly absurd scenes are played completely straight (Bracken asks Brown's professional opinion as to whether the bloody, gristly chainsaw at a crime scene could have been used to dismember the victim). Reportedly, Lynda Day George dislikes the film (one wonders whether this has to do with the graphic gore, or the popularity of her oft-quoted "bastard" line). Purdom had already acted in the Dick Randall productions THE DEVIL'S LOVER, FRANKENSTEIN'S CASTLE OF FREAKS, and INVADERS OF THE LOST GOLD and would get his chance to direct with the Santa slasher DON'T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS for Randall and Steve Minasian (one of the FRIDAY THE 13TH series investors). Randall and Minasian also produced the slasher SLAUGHTER HIGH. The Spanish version featured a mostly original score by Librado Pastor (he recycled at least one cue from his score for Carlos Puerto's SATAN'S BLOOD, which was produced by Simon) more appropriate to a silent film. The English dub was produced in Rome and replaced the music cues with library tracks from the CAM library (including Stelvio Cipriani's cues for Pier Carpi's RING OF DARKNESS as well as some cues by Carlo Maria Cordio from ANTHROPOPHAGUS 2) and also featured the infectious, anonymous disco song "Running Around" for the totally eighties aerobics class scene.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 23 September 1983 (USA)

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DVD Comparison:

Arrow Video - Region 0 - PAL vs. Grindhouse Releasing (Deluxe Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for all the Screen Caps!

(Arrow Video - Region 0 - PAL - LEFT vs. Grindhouse Releasing (Deluxe Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Arrow Video

Region 0 - PAL

Grindhouse Releasing
Region 0 - NTSC
Runtime 1:21:54 (4% PAL speedup) 1:25:21
Video

1.65:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.22 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.65:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.39 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Arrow Video

 

Bitrate:

 

Grindhouse Releasing (Deluxe Edition)

 

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono; Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono; Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

Subtitles English, none English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.65:1

Edition Details:
• Introduction by star Jack Taylor (16:9; 0:24)
• Audio Commentary with Fangoria magazine’s Tony Timpone, moderated by Calum Waddell
• Pieces of Jack: Interview with Jack Taylor (16:9; 17:54)
• Pieces of Deconstruction: Looking Back at a Grindhouse Gorefest – Hostel producer Scott Spiegel,
• filmmaker Howard S. Berger, critic Michael Gingold and horror historian Santos Ellin Jr. reflect on
• PIECES (16:9; 23:14)
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 0:30)
• Liner Notes Booklet by NIGHTMARE USA author Stephen Thrower
• Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork
• Double-sided fold-out artwork poster

DVD Release Date: 5 September 2011
Amaray

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Grindhouse Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.65:1

Edition Details:
• DISC 1:
• Spanish Opening Sequence (16:9; 5:38)
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 0:30)
• The Vine Theater Experience (audience track in Dolby Digital 5.1)
• The Vine Theatre Experience Introduction (4:3; 1:52)
• Easter Egg: Introduction by Eli Roth (16:9; 3:50)
• DISC 2:
• Pieces Of Piquer: interview with director Juan Piquer (55:21)
• Paul Smith: The Reddest Herring: interview with Paul L. Smith (57:41)
• Still Galleries, Liner Notes Booklet by Chas Balun
• Trailers for CAT IN THE BRAIN, THE BEYOND, CANNIBAL FEROX, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, I DRINK YOUR BLOOD,
• THE TOUGH ONES, MASSACRE MAFIA STYLE, GONE WITH THE POPE, SCUM OF THE EARTH, AN AMERICAN HIPPIE IN I
• AN AMERICAN HIPPIE IN ISRAEL, DEATH GAME, FAMILY ENFORCER, ICE HOUSE, and MAD RON'S PREVUE'S FROM
• HELL
• Easter Egg: continuation of Juan Piquer Simon still gallery of PIECES

 

DVD Release Date: 28 October 2008
Amaray

Chapters 33

 

Comments

Arrow Video's transfer of PIECES appears to be derived from the same master as the Grindhouse edition, but the compression is of the Arrow transfer is noisier (it may be acceptable to some viewers, but those who have emailed asking if the Arrow is a significant upgrade will be disappointed).

Like the Grindhouse release, Arrow includes both the English and Spanish audio tracks with optional English subtitles. Besides the scoring, the Spanish opening sequence differs from the American one in that the credits appear during the opening scene on black. The Grindhouse edition handled this by using branching to include one sequence or the other depending on which language track was chosen. Arrow, on the other hand, have retained the English version opening and have edited the Spanish track to conform to the opening. This is very well-executed. Audio tracks sound comparable to the Grindhouse disc (which also offers the Spanish opening sequence as a standalone extra). Both discs utilize the same "cannot be shown" trailer (on the Grindhouse disc, there is a second, gory 30-second trailer that I found by looking through the individual titlesets (VTS 9) on my computer's media player, but I could not find the Easter Egg link for it in the disc's menus).

The main extra on the Arrow is an audio commentary by Fangoria editor emeritus Tony Timpone. It is not scene-specific and they occasionally talk over highlights, but we learn about as much about Timpone (one of the magazine editors thrown to the wolves as a guest at various conservative talk shows looking for an easy target on the subject of violence and misogyny in horror films) as we do about PIECES and other slashers that hit 42nd street in the eighties. We also learn that the film was offered to Terry Levene of Aquarius Releasing (THE BEYOND/ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST/CANNIBAL FEROX) but he turned it down because he thought it was terrible. Although slashers were probably the only horror item Edward L. Montoro's Film Ventures International (BEYOND THE DOOR) were not distributing, Montoro picked up PIECES for its camp value. The killer's image was also more inspired by the comic book character The Shadow than any of Dario Argento's assailants. The Arrow disc also features a pleasant interview with Jack Taylor (interestingly, he says he played the role straight because he did not realize it was supposed to be spoofy or campy). "Pieces of Deconstruction" features reflections on the film from horror filmmakers and critics. The collector's booklet also includes writing by Stephen Thrower (whose book NIGHTMARE USA is highly recommended) but it was not provided for review.

Grindhouse's 2-disc set extras are a bit more focused and feature director Juan Piquer Simon (who died in January of this year) and a long interview with Paul Smith. The optional Vine Theater Experience track (in 5.1) is not a bad way to watch the movie - although it might have been better if the film's mono soundtrack had been placed in the center channel so we could hear it as clearly as the audience). Simon gives an entertaining interview (he also lets us in on how the film's goriest effect was created). Like Taylor's interview on the Arrow disc, Smith's interview is more career-centric. Simon also gets to show off some pieces props (including the puzzle). Some trailers and an audio interview with co-producer Steve Minasian are hidden in the filmographies.

 - Eric Cotenas

 


DVD Menus
(
Arrow Video - Region 0 - PAL - LEFT vs. Grindhouse Releasing (Deluxe Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - RIGHT)
 

 

 


 

Screen Captures

(Arrow Video - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. Grindhouse Releasing (Deluxe Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM)
Subtitle sample

 


(Arrow Video - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. Grindhouse Releasing (Deluxe Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Arrow Video - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. Grindhouse Releasing (Deluxe Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Arrow Video - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. Grindhouse Releasing (Deluxe Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Arrow Video - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. Grindhouse Releasing (Deluxe Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Arrow Video - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. Grindhouse Releasing (Deluxe Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Arrow Video - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. Grindhouse Releasing (Deluxe Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Grindhouse Releasing

Sound:

Draw

Extras: Grindhouse Releasing (but both have exclusive extras)
Menu: Arrow

 
DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Arrow Video

Region 0 - PAL

Grindhouse Releasing
Region 0 - NTSC

 




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