Pieces

Although clearly Europe, the purportedly Boston-set slasher, Pieces, does take the viewer to another place entirely.

(For 80s gore-heads, Bean Town is the setting for the fairly pedestrian slasher, Night School, filmed in the city’s Beacon Hill neighbourhood).

Like other slasher masterpieces from the era, Pieces whets appetites with a delicious prologue and a nudie puzzle-obsessed kid who wastes his mommy all in the first five minutes.

When the authorities arrive, no need for any further forensic investigation, as they just take the word of the child.

Fast forward into adulthood with the nature-nurture problem solved, and Timmy is back to his murderin’ ways, attacking coeds on a campus in a string of set pieces that are more bush than Ivy league.

Pieces then lives up to (or down to) its name depending on one’s perspective, with a couple of whiz-bang gruesome chainsaw killings, and a Red Herring in the form of a leering, cross-eyed college groundskeeper, Willard (such is the level of sedateness / quietude at this particular institute of higher learning that the school’s Dean himself, rather than an underling, is responsible for hiring the gardener and negotiating his contract!)

The real hilarity ensues when genre stalwart Christopher George (City of the Living Dead/Grizzly/Graduation Day) wanders in as law enforcement, with an oft-repeated gag about him needing a cigarette lighter that is as dead in the water as this pic’s vics. Rather than put out a notice to the study body that there are student bodies piling up, he hatches a plan to have one of his colleagues go undercover as a varsity tennis coach! (played by Linda Day, real-life missus to Mr. George).

Suffice it to say, there’s a lot to “love” about the embarrassing strokes (the cast members weren’t quite adept at racket sports). The crowd’s reaction to the matches, and women who the Williams sisters could best with just their backhands, is priceless.

Still, as some wag on Instagram put it, this is the finest Italian, Spanish, Puerto Rican production they’d ever seen! A total blast.

*** (out of 5)

Murder Party

Didn’t we learn anything from Lamberto Bava’s Demons? Never accept a weird party invite (in that one, it should’ve been even easier to heed that advice too. The guy wandering around in a silver mask in a Berlin train station was one odd dude). In Murder Party, the protagonist, Christopher, is a lonely sad-sack. (How do we know this? The pet cat/single guy speaks volumes, even as he doesn’t)…So any socialization will do, even an invite that instructs him to “come alone.”

Christopher’s wandering around a New York borough when he spots said Halloween party invite on the ground, directions to a “Murder Party.”

And perhaps inspired by his hairy feline, Sir Lancelet, or the boys in Monty Python, he heads to his humble apartment and slaps together a Crusader costume from cardboard and duct tape and ventures out into the night a passable knight.

Chris makes his way to a not-yet-gentrified part of Brooklyn, wanders down an alley, and enters a sprawling warehouse space. It’s there that a group of art students take him hostage, all part of some diabolical plan to maybe turn the taciturn parking enforcement officer into some kind of hipster inspiration for a Death of Marat. The art school crew comes bedecked in Hammer Horror vampire, Warriors-related attire to name a few.

The collective, true “fauves” conspire to make Chris’ death, the life of their art, and debate how they’re going to go about doing it and which medium they’ll choose.

Murder Party shows a real flare for exterior horrors, even as the bulk of the film takes place in one space. There are some choice digs at the cloistered world of modern art, and few punches are pulled with racy banter.

The third act kind of dries up after an inspired start. Still, there’s a lot of fun and for an indie horror, it’s executed oh so well.