pieces | juan piquer simon | dick randall | roberto loyola | christopher george | lynda day george | frank brana | mystery | thriller | slasher | giallo | exploitation | spain | edmund purdom | ian serra | paul l. smith | jack taylor | gerard tichy | may heatherly
Film: Pieces (Mil gritos tiene la noche)
Director: Juan Piquer Simón
Writers: Dick Randall and Roberto Loyola
Starring: Christopher George, Lynda Day George and Frank Braña
This is a movie that I didn’t hear about until getting into horror movie podcasts. It is one that from what I could gather, they love its absurdity. That excited me to be honest. I know that my buddy Duncan champions this film while acknowledging that it isn’t good. What it comes down to is that this one is fun. Jake and I decided to come back to do our podcast now that my life has settled in and this was what we decided on for Side Quest Podcast.
Synopsis: the co-eds of a Boston college campus are targeted by a mysterious killer who is creating a human jigsaw puzzle from their body parts.
While what the synopsis is stating is true, I also think that is a bit misleading as well. We start this back in 1942. There is a boy who is putting a jigsaw puzzle together of a naked lady. His mother comes up and is upset. There is deep seeded hatred here as it sounds like her husband left her for another woman. She punishes the son for this. This causes him to snap and kill her. A neighbor comes by and no one answers the door. She gets the police and it is believed that a psychopath came in, killed the woman and left. The boy plays traumatized.
We then shift to the present of the movie. There is a person who has the shoes and dress from the beginning. They’re still bloody. This person also has the puzzle and starts to put it together, originating with the head.
This is taking place on a college campus. This place is run by the dean, played by Edmund Purdom. Doing a landscape project is Willard (Paul L. Smith). He’s a big burly guy. I should also say that we have Kendall (Ian Sera) who is considered a bit of a Casanova on campus. We also have Professor Arthur Brown (Jack Taylor).
There is a shake up here when Virginia Palmer (Roxana Nieto) is killed in a park. She is decapitated with a chainsaw. The police are called in to investigate, led by Lt. Bracken (Christopher George) and Sgt. Randy Holden (Frank Braña). They meet with the dean who wants them to work with Prof. Brown. He is supposed to have known the student.
When there is another victim, this time in the pool, this causes the police to ramp up their efforts. A former tennis pro turned police officer, Mary Riggs (Lynda Day George), goes undercover as a teacher. Lt. Bracken learns that a note was sent to Kendall to keep him away from the pool so he asks this young man to keep his eyes open. There is another thing in common, more body parts are missing from the victim.
That is where I’ll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. Where I want to start is saying that this is as wild as people said it is. Now I know different things that I’ve picked up here and there. I just wasn’t sure how they would play out. This plays like a giallo. We know the killer is the boy from the beginning. We just don’t know who they are as an adult. Looking back this doesn’t do a great job at introducing a lot of potential suspects so when it came down to me figuring it out, it was straight forward in my opinion. This isn’t a problem though as I think the deaths are the focal point.
Let me shift back over how to classify this movie. I’ve already said giallo. I think it falls mostly into that category due to us not knowing who the killer is. They wear black gloves. This movie is sleazy and the police are using the help of Kendall to solve the case. He’s a college student, not a police officer. This goes violent as well which made me think that it is also a bit of a slasher where that goes. The reason for the killings works for me as it is caused by childhood trauma. That could go either way to be honest for how you look at what subgenre this goes into.
Now with that fleshed out, let me just finish out with the story. First, I do have to nitpick that the police would allow Kendall to help like they do. It is what it is though so I’m not going to destroy the movie for that. I did have a problem that there are deaths off screen. I’m not sure if that was budgetary or censorship. They do shift to showing more as we go on. This leans more into showing us the aftermath, which is usually a bloody mess. I did like that at least. I’d say that what we got for the effects was solid. The cinematography is also good with hiding things when needed. I did appreciate that. Since this has been the other filmmaking, last is the soundtrack. I like that it is incorporated into the world of the movie through a plot point. I also like the smooth jazz song we got and the other music as well. I was impressed to be honest.
Next then should be the acting. This is where I think it is cheesy, but fun. Christopher George is good as our lead detective. He has a good screen presence. He’s also the one that wants Kendall’s help and it does feel like he’s going off a hunch. Lynda George is also solid as Mary. It is funny that Kendall knows her from her tennis career. Now she’s a cop. It is a bit wild, but not bad. Braña is more realistic as the other cop which is good. Purdom, Smith and Taylor are also good in their roles. Smith is imposing with size so it makes sense why he’s the first suspect. Sera is funny as he’s considered to be this stud on campus. Good role for him to play and he’s fine in it. Other than that, the victims are good. We get a good amount of nudity, which I appreciate. The rest of the cast works.
In conclusion, this movie lived up to the hype of what I was expecting. We are getting a sleazy giallo/slasher hybrid. The reason for the killings is good. Mystery is lacking a bit, but that doesn’t necessarily hurt things. The acting fits for what they needed. The effects were good. My issue there is that we cut away from early deaths and just see the aftermath. Other than that, I’d say that this was done well enough. Is this a masterpiece? Not by any stretch. I do think this is better than what it is given credit for. It is mostly a fun, shut off your brain time movie that you roll with. If that’s what you’re looking for, give this a go.
My Rating: 7 out of 10