Written by: George Pacheco on February 20th, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: Spain, 1982
Director: Juan Piquer Simon
Writers: Joe D’Amato, Dick Randall, Juan Piquer Simon
Cast: Christopher George, Lynda Day George, Frank Braña, Edmund Purdom, Ian Sera, Paul L. Smith, Jack Taylor
BluRay released: March 1st, 2016
Approximate running times: 85 minutes (Pieces), 87 minutes (Mil Gritos Tiene La Noche)
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Stereo English DTS-HD Stereo Spanish (Mil Gritos Tiene La Noche)
Blu-Ray Release: Grindhouse Releasing
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $44.95
There’s very little many critics could add about the lasting impact and influence Pieces possesses amongst horror fans around the world. The little genre picture that could has thrived longer than anyone involved probably imagined it would, considering the fast ‘n loose way director Juan Piquer Simon and Co. shot this Spanish/American co-production back in 1982.
This is why Grindhouse Releasing’s Blu-Ray presentation of Pieces is so exciting, for it singlehandedly manages to reinvigorate excitement for a film which has been the lifesblood of grindhouse horror cinema for so many years. The company already released a then-definitive DVD release of the film back in 2008, but this Blu-Ray proves that even true greatness can be improved upon, when placed within the hands of those who legitimately care about providing the best possible product for the money.
Pieces is a sort of giallo/slasher/horror hybrid of sorts, directed by Spain’s Juan Piquer Simon, who made a career out of creating humble, yet enjoyable genre fare throughout the 1980s. The film was picked up for distribution by notorious American producer Dick Randall, which allowed the inclusion of such Stateside talent as Christopher George and Paul Smith to appear in the film, alongside its Spanish speaking cast.
The film follows a demented killer who is skulking about a Boston college campus, dismembering young women and assembling a grotesque memorial to his dead mother, murdered years later in a fit of sexually repressed anger and rage. Red herrings and cinematic non sequiturs abound as the bodies pile up, boosted by some fantastic gore, humorous dubbing and a mish-mash of Italian library cues yanked from other films.
The result is a total horror classic which still manages to entertain just as much as it did during its initial run on New York’s legendary 42nd Street theaters. Simon is an underrated filmmaker who manages to throw in a youthful and innocent feeling of fun into all of his films, with Pieces being no exception. It’s clear, especially when listening to the Spanish language audio, that Simon tried to make the best film he could, and this straight faced belief in hard work shows through in the finished product.
This isn’t to say that Pieces is particularly scary, but it’s super successful in nearly everything else it attempts to achieve, from the rampant violence, bonkers atmosphere and sleaze-filled sequences of nudity and horror. There’s a reason why this film continues to gain new fans on a yearly basis, and this Blu-Ray release from Grindhouse reaffirms the fact that you don’t have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre!
Grindhouse Releasing’s Blu-Ray of Pieces looks brilliant; it’s highly likely that no one will ever make Simon’s film look any better. Colors are vibrant, saturated and pop like they were just struck yesterday. Depth and clarity is on point, as are the English and Spanish audio tracks, which arrive clear as a bell with error-free English subtitles. Speaking of that print, the Spanish language titling of the film as Mil Gritos Tiene La Noche is included here, alongside the more familiar American cut of Pieces, with both films clocking in with different running times and containing separate scores, the former consisting of cuts from Italy’s C.A.M. library from such composers as Fabio Frizzi, Stelvio Cipriani and Carlo Maria Cordio.
All of the prior extras from Grindhouse’s DVD issuing of Pieces have been ported over here, including on camera interviews with Simon and actor Paul Smith, both of whom document their careers behind and in front of the camera lens. Additionally, a brand new commentary track from actor Jack Taylor was recorded for this release, as well as a third audio option which presents the film’s audience track from a screening at the Vine Theater in Los Angeles.
There’s also a feature length extra included here, in the form of a documentary directed by The Dark Side magazine’s Calum Waddell about the legacy of New York’s 42nd Street in Times Square. Luminaries from the world of genre cinema are all interviewed about their experiences on the city’s infamous block of grindhouse theaters, including Blue Underground honcho and Maniac director William Lustig, Basket Case director Frank Henenlotter, Gremlins director Joe Dante, Aquarius Releasing film distributor Terry Levene and many more.
….but wait, there’s more! Liner notes from horror journalists Chas Balun and Rick Sullivan, extensive cast bios and filmographies, Grindhouse Releasing trailers and even a soundtrack CD are included in this exhaustive package. Limited copies of this one even come packaged with a replica puzzle to the one featured in the film’s opening scene. Simply put, this is an early contender for home video release of the year, and one which demands a near immediate purchase, even if you already own the film on DVD.
Five stars, all the way around.
Screenshots from Mil Gritos Tiene La Noche