Latarnia presents CASTILIAN CRIMSON
The Spanish Horror Film





Director: Juan Piquer Simon
Screenplay: Juan Piquer Simon, Joe D'Amato, Dick Randall
Music: Librado Pastor
Cast: Christopher George, Lynda Day George, Frank Brana, Edmund Purdom, Ian Sera, Paul L. Smith, Jack Taylor, Gerard Tichy
Running time: 89 minutes
Eastmancolor ~ Panoramico



Primal Scene: a young boy is beaten by his mother (Blanca Estrada?) when she catches him piecing together a puzzle of a nude woman (hence, the export titles PIECES). The boy retaliates by chopping mommy up with an axe, placing her head in the closet. The cops break in and rush the boy away, assuming an intruder broke in and committed the crime.

This precredit sequence, missing from some prints, is a sanguine foreshadowing of things to come. JP Simon's PIECES, co written by John Shadow (a cover used by Aristide Massaccesi--hey, one of the reasons I picked up the DVD is that the name "Joe D'Amato" actually appears on the back of the keepcase) wallows in pointless gore, drowning its familiar plot in a sea of plasma. Talk about gratuitous violence, after the credits the first thing we see is a curvaceous teen skateboarding through a plate glass window. Then another scantily clad girl is chainsawed apart while reading under a tree. A killer is stalking the exclusive finishing school with a meat grinder and is sawing off choice parts of female anatomy. You guessed it, he's piecing together his own woman!

The Dean (Edmund Purdom) looks concerned. So are the cops (Christopher George and Frank [Francisco] Brana). They even place a female decoy in the school (Linda Day George) who, along with a helpful student (Ian Sera), unmask the murderer. But not before a lot of footage is exposed of terrified girls getting arms, legs, torsos cut off (one poor coed even wets her pants in anticipation of getting the chop). Yep, this is one sick puppy of a film. Dare I find anything of cinematic value or even a tad of guilty pleasure in this kind of cynical blood pudding? I was amused by hulking Paul Smith (POPEYE) who has but one acting tool in his arsenal, a threatening glare with one eye half closed. Oh well...

The fact that Simon is able to endow the very wet proceedings with a slick sheen somehow makes it all the more offensive. It's difficult to comment on Juan Marine's cinematography as the Diamond DVD is anything but clear and somewhat less colorful than the old VHS prerecord.

I also enjoyed seeing Jess Franco regular Jack Taylor as the way-in-the-closet anatomy Prof who is the number one suspect in the slayings. Taylor always looks cool and collected and seems to add a dash of charm to his roles. Chris George seems to be reprising his role in Fulci's CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD. Of course, Spaghetti Western fans will recognize the prolific Frank Brana as George's sidekick. Linda Day George provides unintentional delight as we get to hear her scream "bastard" over and over at different vocal pitches.

There's no doubting Piquer's direction is leering, sexist and totally shameless in its detailed depiction of the brutal murders of his female cast. The victims are first sexualized, objectified and then subjected to a period of mental torture before physical dismemberment. The entire PRIMAL SCENE-RETURN OF THE REPRESSED aspect is finalized in an appalling coda where our young hero (Sera) gets his genitals ripped off by the madman's suddenly animated human puzzle. I hope Edmund Purdom had fun on this shoot, he sure looks suspiciously content, as if he's thinking how he's going to spend his much deserved paycheck for appearing in this trash.

This was a lensed in Madrid, Spain with some exteriors taken in Boston. Eurosleaze kingpin Dick Randall (the slobbish voyeur in FOUR TIMES THAT NIGHT) put together this coproduction with some added financing coming from Puerto Rico. I've also heard talk of an uncut Spanish version (PIECES appears to be slightly trimmed for violence) with an alternate, more atmospheric score than the sub Goblin cues provided by CAM for the export version.

-- Reviewed by Robert Monell, 2002

Budget DVD ($6.99) and viewer reviews
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