Tag Archives: Christopher George

Pieces (1982)


By Richard Winters

My Rating: 0 out of 10

4-Word Review: Cutting up the coeds.

This review will be the first of many in which we celebrate October by reviewing all horror movies for the entire month. The film we look at today has managed to gain a strong cult following and deals with a Boston area college that is under attack by an elusive killer who slashes coeds to bits and then uses their body parts to create his personal human-sized jigsaw puzzle.

Horror director Eli Roth describes this film as being one of the top “horror films of all-time” and “the ultimate slasher film” with “the greatest ending in horror history”. Unfortunately I thoroughly disagree with him and was genuinely beginning to wonder if we had even seen the same movie, or if he was just joking. To me it was just another cheaply made horror flick made by a producers looking to cash in on the ‘80s slasher craze by churning out something that is completely formulaic and offers nothing new or imaginative to the genre. The plot is dull and predictable and the scares nonexistent. Even the killer is boring by appearing as this shadowy figure that has no features or distinction. Also, the film’s setting is Boston, but no one speaks with a New England accent and instead just about everyone has a European one.

The opening bit, which supposedly takes place in 1942, is full of anachronistic errors and the other killings, with the exception of the one that takes place on a water bed, fall equally flat. The one that I found particularly ridiculous features a coed, which is played by actress Cristina Cottrelli, who gets killed while swimming in an indoor pool. The killer stands on the edge of the pool and uses a long handled net to ‘catch’ her as she swims and then drags her back towards him. However, the net would be too flimsy for this and if she had given it any resistance at all it would’ve been enough to make the killer to lose his balance and fall into the pool. She also could’ve easily escaped from it by diving beneath the water. The fact that this same net also manages to knock her out is even more absurd although she does manage to regain consciousness only to see the killer coming at her with a chainsaw, but instead of just rolling back into the water for an easy escape, which is literally just inches from her, she instead passively lies there and screams while he hacks her up.


I might’ve given it a few points had the gore been better, but I really wasn’t impressed. There’s lots of quick cutaways before anything much is shown and the body parts were clearly just stuff taken from mannequins and then doused in red paint.

The film got some notoriety at the time for its violence and then was disown by its two stars Christopher George and his wife Lynda Day George who insisted they were unaware that this was going to be a horror film when they agreed to sign on. The truth is they were already doing a lot of horror films before this as their careers were in severe decline and it was the only thing they were being offered. Chances of them thinking this was going to be anything different was slim and they probably were simply reacting to the critical backlash and trying to save what was left of their reputations by ‘disowning’ it even though it made very little difference as George ended up dying from a sudden heart attack just 2 months after its US release.

Edmund Purdom, who was at one time a top European star during the ‘50s should’ve been equally embarrassed and apparently was equally desperate to have signed on. The only other recognizable face is Paul L. Smith who gets stuck with an insignificant role as the maintenance man and uses some over-the-top facial expressions that I found more annoying than funny.

That ‘greatest ending in horror history’ that Roth describes is also really stupid and in fact may be the dumbest part in the film. If you don’t want to read a ‘spoiler’ then look away now although it really doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of the plot anyways, which is the reason why I’m choosing not to give this paragraph my usual ‘spoiler Warning’ alert. Anyways the scene deals with a hand of a dead body suddenly reaching up and grabbing the crotch of the protagonist (Ian Sera), but the corpse was facing away from the character meaning that if it had somehow extended its arm then only the back of the hand would’ve touched the character and no grabbing would’ve occurred. Also, there were no supernatural elements ever introduced into the film, so how then does this body suddenly manage to move anyways?  ‘Surprise endings’ can be fun, but if they make no sense and have nothing to do with what’s occurred before then they become pointless and shouldn’t be added.

Some fans seem to enjoy this for its cheesiness, but for me it was a real chore to sit through and not amusing even on a bad movie level. Even if one makes a party of it by showing it with a group of friends and some beer I don’t see it getting much better.


My Rating: 0 out of 10

Released: August 23, 1982

Runtime: 1Hour 29Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Juan Piquer Simon

Studio: Artists Releasing Corporation

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video

Graduation Day (1981)

graduation day

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Killer slashes track team.

When the high school’s top track star Laura (Ruth Ann Llorens) collapses mysteriously after winning a race strange things start happening to her teammates. One-by-one they get knocked-off by a killer who has a way with swords, but who could it be? Her brash, driven coach (Christopher George) who pushes his players past their breaking point or maybe it’s her strange sister Anne (Patch Mackenzie) who comes back home from the military. The clues and suspects keep piling up, but can the police find the culprit before the entire team gets killed?

Writer Anne Marisse and director Herb Freed teamed up four years earlier to make the very original one-of-a-kind horror film Haunts where they created an excellent atmosphere on a nickel-and-dime budget that is completely lacking here. The scares and suspense even on a cheap level is non-existent. What is even worse is that there is no central character just a mishmash of uninteresting people and scenes that does not help to create any empathy from the viewer nor story momentum.

Freed’s direction is lively to some extent as he does inject some humor and a couple moments were he uses quick flash editing, but his other camera work is off-putting. I particularly got annoyed with a tracking shot showing a person running alongside a moving camera that seemed to make them look like they were on a treadmill, or going unnaturally slow in order to not outrun the camera. This is done several times throughout the film with different characters and the result is very artificial looking. He also features a band named Felony that sings a long seven minute song called ‘Gangster Rock’ that almost turns this thing into a music video. A scene showing a woman being chased by the killer is intercut between the band playing and this takes the viewer out of the film completely and kills what little suspense there already is.

The killings themselves are unimpressive. The scene showing a victim getting beheaded looks too much like it is a mannequin and it is highly doubtful that any sword could make that type of precise and quick cut. Another death features a pole- vaulter  being impaled by a mat full of sharp spikes, which is pretty much ruined when we can clearly seeing that the victim is still breathing even as he lays there with the spikes having gone right through him.

There is logic loopholes as well including having the killer store the Laura’s dead body inside his bedroom and pretend she is still alive, which is too reminiscent to Psycho to be effective or interesting. I also didn’t know how somebody could dig up a dead body from a cemetery and not have the victim’s family, or the cemetery workers not notice. The make-up used to try to make her appear decomposed instead made her look more like she was a member of the KISS rock group.

Michael Pataki hams it up nicely as the school’s beleaguered principal and becomes a scene stealer in the process. Christopher George is so irritable and belligerent with anyone who makes contact with him that he becomes fun as well. Linnea Quigley has a nice topless scene as the horny Delores and Virgil Frye who is the father of Soleil Moor Frye of Punky Brewster fame has a few goofy moments as the school’s incompetent security guard. The funniest though is Patrick Wright as a grungy, overweight truck driver who feels that he is entitled to take liberties with Ann who is returning home from the service simply because he is a ‘taxpayer’.

Sources list Vanna White as the character of Doris, but I didn’t spot her and I don’t feel like going all the back through this cardboard thing again just to see if I can.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: May 1, 1981

Runtime: 1Hour 36Minutes

Rated R

Director: Herb Freed

Studio: IFI

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube