Zach’s Sunday Slashers: ‘Pieces’ – The chainsaw massacre with kung-fu fight scenes


“Pieces” is a low-budget 1982 slasher directed by Juan Piquer Simon and produced by both Spanish and American producers. The film is not exactly what you think it is, but instead one of the most confusing and bizarre slashers I have ever seen, and its marketing makes no effort to distance itself from its inspirations. (Image courtesy of Film Ventures International)

Zachary Cimaglio

There’s something about campy, terribly low–budget horror movies that make for a perfect night in with a bowl of popcorn and a few stiff drinks. When I find the perfect movie with the perfect combination of cheesy kills, bad special effects and the worst acting I’ve ever seen, I get absolutely thrilled – just not for the reasons the filmmakers probably intended.
This is partly why I pay monthly for a subscription to Shudder, the exclusively horror-themed movie streaming platform where I found the subject of this week’s column, a low-budget 1982 slasher movie called “Pieces.”
Despite its derivative nature and the horrible acting and effects, the film is unintentionally entertaining for its sheer absurdity.
“Pieces,” directed by Juan Piquer Simon, tells the story of a group of college students terrorized by a brutal chainsaw killer as the authorities scramble to figure out who is responsible.
The film opens in the 1940s with a boy named Timmy doing a jigsaw puzzle of a nude woman only to be discovered by his mother, who throws out all of his perverted material in a disgusted rage.

Timmy, who is implied to be the chainsaw slasher in the film 40 years later, hacks his mother to pieces with an axe in 1982’s “Pieces”. Despite searching high and low, there seems to be no information publicly available about the name of the boy playing Timmy in this scene. (Image courtesy of Film Ventures International and Bloody Disgusting)

Timmy then kills his mother with an axe and chops her body into pieces, hiding in the closet before the police arrive so he can maintain his innocence. The tone is set right away with the excessive gore and campy effects on display here, along with the egregious overacting on the part of both Timmy and his mother.
The scene then cuts to a very confusing scene of a girl skateboarding down the street 40 years later before running into a large pane of glass carried by a couple delivery workers which transitions to a scene of Timmy’s mom’s face being smashed against a mirror.
In a completely sudden twist of events, the scene then cuts to one of a girl being murdered with a chainsaw in the park completely abruptly and without any payoff. Overall, the intro is very hard to follow and full of the worst, campiest acting imaginable, but despite this, I found myself eager to see what would happen next out of sheer amusement.
Before long, the killing starts on a nondescript college campus in 1982 after a vicious chainsaw murder, and the movie seems to paint the burly and suspicious gardener named Willard as the main suspect. If I know anything about slashers, though (and I’d like to think I do, all things considered), I had my doubts about the man’s guilt.
I think Willard the gardener is a perfect example of the film’s lack of logic overall, however, and is part of what makes it such an entertaining slasher to watch.
At one point in the film, a girl is literally netted out of the swimming pool and killed with a chainsaw, and Willard is spotted afterwards with the body by the police, who naturally suspect him almost instantly.
It might be easy to assume Willard here would simply explain the situation and defend his innocence (he is, after all, later revealed not to be the killer), but he instead breaks out into a fully choreographed kung-fu fight scene with the police for several minutes.
However, despite his suspicious behavior and obvious proficiency with a chainsaw, this is the last time he ever comes up as a suspect in the murders. For some unknown reason, the police simply ignore Willard the gardener from this point on, and let the man roam free.

Burma-born actor Huang Jianlong appears in an uncredited cameo as a horribly stereotypical Chinese kung-fu instructor in “Pieces.” The actor went by the name Bruce Le in nearly all of his films in an attempt to appropriate the name of the late martial artist and action star Bruce Lee. (Photo courtesy of Film Ventures International and IMDb)

Surprisingly, that isn’t even the only kung-fu scene in the film, as near the story’s climax, a horribly stereotypical karate instructor (played by a man calling himself Bruce Le, with one E) appears in an alleyway to attack one of the main characters (whose name the film makes no attempt to remind me of, so why should I be bothered to remember?) The scene ends as quickly as it starts, and ultimately amounts to nothing more than a fake-out scare. Of course, no B-movie horror is complete without terrible dialogue and a fair share of overacting.

Fortunately, “Pieces” has this in droves, with so much of it that I am convinced the entire script was penned on a bunch of napkins inside a Denny’s.
“Don’t tell me I’m the bearer of bad news, I could kill myself.”
“No, it’s alright.”
“Good, I’m too young to die.”
One thing the film does have going for it overall is the gore effects. While many of the kills are very bland and boring, happening off-screen many a time, the few that are shown in detail are surprisingly disturbing to watch thanks to its practical effects, with one standing out especially when a girl is sawed in half in a locker room in gruesome fashion.
Even here at its best, it does still have its B-movie moments, especially in the water bed stabbing scene toward the end, where the knife the killer uses can be seen bending against the woman’s back, making the fake plastic replica incredibly apparent.
The film’s sound design is terribly inconsistent as well, with some scenes being so quiet I had to turn my volume way up just to hear the dialogue, only to have my ears blasted in the very next scene. Of course, since the film was made in partnership between Spanish and American producers, there is an excess of overdubbing that can be seen throughout the film where the actors’ mouth movements don’t line up even remotely with the words they are supposedly saying.
“Pieces” is the perfect example of a film that is ‘so bad it’s actually good.’ Aside from the admittedly shocking ending, which I will refrain from spoiling here, it may not be scary in the slightest, and lacks any sort of production value in most cases, it is the perfect film for a night with friends and an irresponsible amount of junk food or alcohol.
“Pieces” can be found on the horror-themed streaming platform Shudder or with ads on Peacock and Tubi.