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February 18, 2016



Mil Gritos tiene la Noche
Juan Piquer Simon - 1982
Grindhouse Releasing BD Regions ABC

The best parts of the new blu-ray of Pieces? That would be some of the extra pieces, from the abundance of supplements found on the second disc. I loved the interview with Paul Smith, who has had an amazing career and some amusing stories. Coincidentally, both he and Pieces star Christopher George both made their big screen debuts under the direction of Otto Preminger. There's also the documentary, 42 Street Memories, with Joe Dante, Larry Cohen, and Veronica Hart, among others, telling about their adventures watching movies at that one block strip of movie theaters in New York City, back when there was sometimes as much or more action in the theater than on the screen. This was something of a nostalgia trip for me as I use to see movies there myself when I worked nearby on 38th Street. A special shout out to Lynn Lowery who shared her memories, and whom I saw at 42nd Street theaters, in David Cronenberg's They Came from Within because it was playing no where else in NYC, as well as Radley Metzger's Score and Fighting Mad, a virtually forgotten film by Jonathan Demme.

As for Pieces, there is the English language version, but I like the original Spanish language version, Mil Gritos tiene la Noche, which translates as "A Thousand Screams in the Night. The extra three minutes provides a little more flesh to the prologue. Also, the original music score by Librado Pastor is better than the library score on the English language release. Much of Pastor's score is piano driven, and sounds like something that would accompany a silent movie.

The prologue takes place in 1942, in Boston, for no particular reason. Ten year old Timmy is caught by his mom, putting together a jigsaw puzzle of a nude woman. Mom goes berserk, and chastises young Timmy, comparing the boy to his no-good father, and ordered to get a trash to dispose of his porn stash. Timmy instead returns to his room with an ax and makes like Lizzie Borden. If matricide was a school project, Timmy would get extra points for severing Mom with a saw. When the cops come calling, Timmy is found hiding in a closet, crying, and blaming a "big man" for the carnage. At this point, the narrative jumps ahead forty years, and someone is slicing and dicing the cute co-eds at a Boston university with a chainsaw and reassembling that naughty jigsaw puzzle.

Pieces is mostly about the gory murders. To complain about anachronisms in the prologue, bits of business unrelated to the story, or even how the, um, execution, of the murders defies logic, is besides the point. It doesn't take much effort to identity the red herrings among the characters. Pieces takes place in a universe where a former tennis champ works as an undercover cop, and the unnamed university has a whole department devoted to anatomy. The most believable part of Pieces is the affection displayed between real life couple Christopher George, as the chief investigating detective, and wife Lynda Day George, billed here as Linda Day, as the former tennis star.

Pieces was produced and co-written by Dick Randall, an American abroad, who specialized in low budget exploitation films that frequently featured stars a decade or more past their prime, like Sonny Tufts and Jayne Mansfield. Edmund Purdom appears here as the dean of the university. Pieces has stabbings, decapitations, and geysers of blood. But nothing could prepare me for the horror of Edmund Purdom, in his luxurious apartment with classical paintings and expensive furniture, serving Lynda Day George two cups of instant coffee.


Posted by Peter Nellhaus at February 18, 2016 07:23 PM