Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 20th, 2007
Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 2004
Approximate running time: 91 minutes
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen
Director: Nick Palumbo
Screenplay: Nick Palumbo
Cinematography: Brendan Flynt
Cast: Sven Garrett, Tony Todd, Cerina Vincent, Gunnar Hansen, Edwin Neal, Jade Risser, Valerie Baber
A photographer with strange artistic fetishes brutalizes and murders the women who he takes pictures of with his 35mm camera.
Murder Set Pieces has caused controversy since its original release in late 2004. Unlike most horror films of its ilk it hasn’t died and faded away into oblivion. All one has too do is visit any of the numerous movie/horror message boards and they are sure to find a topic dedicated to this film. Does this film live up to its hype and is its bad reputation deserved or have some been overly venomous about their feelings for this film.
Murder Set Pieces is not a film without flaws, still it achieves most of what it sets out to do despite its shortcomings. The most obvious kink in this films armor is its lead actor Sven Garrett who does a good job during the raping and murdering of his various victims. Then the problem presents itself when Sven opens his mouth and no it is not his accent that ruins every line he says it is dead pan delivery that draws you away from the film that you are trying to watch. Sure he looks imposing enough with his large muscular frame and when he speaks in German that kind of sounds cool in an odd way. The back story of when he was a boy and how his grandfather was part of the Third Reich are interesting back stories that just don’t get explored further enough.
The direction is stylish and the pacing keeps things interesting tell the very end. Even though the killers’ modus operandi is obvious early on it does become repetitive as the film progresses. The violence is in your face and the way it lingers makes almost unbearable sometimes. The acting overall while not great is more then adequate and better then I though it would be with Jade Risser performance being one of the better of the lot and she doesn’t ever come off as annoying like most child actors. Horror movie fans will quickly recognize Tony Todd, Gunnar Hansen and Edwin Neal. All three are nice additions to the cast even though their roles are secondary and brief.
The films sexual overtones is the one area in which it odes go to far and if Nick Palumbo’s intention was to make a horror film then why does the gore take a backseat to the T&A rape fests. The ear marking of a good horror film is one that scares you. Murder Set Pieces has no real moments where I felt frightened and the violence set pieces only had one effect on me I found it revolting not disturbing. Ultimately when all was said and done none of the characters had any redeeming qualities about them which made it hard to care for them as they fought for their lives.
To date Murder Set Pieces has been released twice on DVD in November 2005 by Fright Flix under the banner directors’ cut and in January 2007 in an R Rated version from Loins Gate. For this review I saw the ninety one minute director cuts version of the film.