In 1942, a 10-year-old named Timmy plays with a jigsaw puzzle of a nude woman when his unhinged mother walks in and chastises him for it. After she orders him to dispose of the puzzle, he returns with an axe and murders her, then saws her body with a hacksaw. When the police arrive, they find him hiding inside a closet and Timmy acts as if he was a witness of the crime scene. The police believe this, not suspecting him as the murderer, and is sent to live with his aunt. Forty years later, a black-clad figure opens a box containing the bloodied clothing and a photograph of Timmy’s mother. He also un-boxes the bloodied jigsaw puzzle and starts to put it together.
Forty years later, as a nearby girl studies outside in broad daylight, she is decapitated with a chainsaw by an unidentified killer, who steals her head. Lt. Bracken and his partner Sgt. Holden arrive to investigate the murder. After the detectives explain to the college’s Dean that there were no witnesses or suspects, the Dean asks the rather sinister Professor Brown, who teaches anatomy, to show the detectives around. Outside, the groundskeeper, Willard, is seen trimming a hedge with a chainsaw, similar to the killer’s. In the campus’ library, a student named Kendall receives a note given by a girl to come to the pool later; the killer finds it and tracks down the girl at the swimming pool, where she is brutally sawed with the chainsaw. A little later, Willard arrives on the scene and is arrested, believed to be a suspect. Near the pool, they find the chainsaw and the girl’s body parts, with the exception being that her torso is missing. The next day, Dr. Jennings meets with Kendall at the station in hopes that Kendall can help provide a profile of the murderer. Lt. Bracken brings in an undercover cop named Mary Riggs, who was also a former tennis player. Bracken explains to Holden that Mary is going undercover to pose as a tennis instructor at the college and Kendall is going to assist her whenever he can. As a reporter named Sylvia Costa is stonewalled by Bracken, the killer stalks a girl later that evening, who had finished her dance routine, and saws her arms off inside an elevator just before Kendall and the police arrive. During the same evening, the killer also stalks Sylvia and stabs her on a waterbed.
Later the next day, one of Mary’s tennis students heads into the locker room after the killer turns on music on the loudspeakers and is pursued until she meets her demise by having her waist sawed horizontally. While Mary and Kendall focus on turning off the loudspeakers’ music, the killer steals the girl’s legs and escapes. Prior to Mary getting enraged for the killer’s escape, she and Kendall find Willard being released from custody due to lack of evidence. Kendall then goes to the police station and presents his theory to Holden about the killer being part of the university faculty, since the killer knows when and where to strike before avoiding the police. They spend hours researching files on the faculty and discover that the Dean previously changed his name and that his mother was brutally murdered, finding out the Dean’s identity to be a grown-up Timmy. Meanwhile, Mary is drugged by the Dean at his apartment and attempts to saw off her feet after the previous victim’s feet did not fit his mother’s shoes for the puzzle. Bracken, Holden, and Kendall burst into the Dean’s apartment, and the Dean gets shot in the head by Bracken while trying to kill Kendall, who was also trying to leave with Mary, paralyzed by the drugs given to her by the Dean.
After searching through the apartment and discovering the jigsaw puzzle, Holden joking to Kendall that he should join the police force leans on a bookshelf which switches around and contains the Dean’s human puzzle; a decomposing body made of the Dean’s victims’ body parts stitched together and donned in his mother’s dress, which tears apart as the jigsaw-corpse falls on Kendall, terrifying him. Later on, a shaken Kendall leaves with Holden and just as he grabs his jacket, the jigsaw-corpse inexplicably comes to life and castrates him as he screams.
BEHIND THE SCENES/ PRODUCTION/RELEASE/DISTRIBUTION
An independent film distributor has got to keep a sharp eye on foreign film production in order to sift through all the inept exploitation fare for that occasional picture that combines professionalism with commercial value. But sometimes, he might not be looking for something good enough he just might decide to take on something bad enough.
Edward Montoro of Film Ventures says that the first time he saw the shot-in-Spain feature Pieces, he “sat there in stunned shock.” In fact, he thought the movie was bad enough to turn down. Not only was he not impressed by the quality of the production, to say the least, he was not fond of the subject matter (psycho-slasher on the prowl a genre Montoro likes to stay away from). Why, then, did he decide to acquire Pieces for distribution in the U.S.?
Montoro says, “I didn’t want to take the film until the producer Steve Minasian said, ‘Could screen it for an audience.’ Well, I screened it for a paying audience in San Diego, and they screamed at the gore parts, but basically they laughed all the way through the film. They absolutely loved the picture. That’s what made me change my mind about this particular film; I normally wouldn’t want this type of slasher picture, but the audience started laughing right away. You know, you put 200 people in a theater and they start to laugh and it’s infectious. There’s a lot of gore, but for the most part it’s really very unintentional camp. “At one point in the screening, the film broke for eight minutes. I figured, now everyone’s gonna leave, right? They’re going to walk out. But they came out and smoked cigarettes and talked about who could be the killer and how much fun they were having. So I thought I might end up with a cult classic.”
Montoro had no compunctions about discussing how absurd his current release is. “The part I really loved,” he says, ” and the part that really broke up the audience, is the scene where the girl is waiting for the elevator and the killer comes up and she doesn’t suspect anything. He enters the elevator and she doesn’t notice the chainsaw that he’s holding behind his back. And I also thought the tennis match was particularly good. It sounded like a Super-Bowl crowd cheering, and then they cut up to the crowd and there’s 15 people turning their heads from side to side.” He appreciates the dubbing of the film as well (“especially when the words are coming and the lips ain’t moving”).
The short script for Pieces was written by Italian producer Roberto Loyola and American exploitation filmmaker Dick Randall. Contrary to popular belief, Joe D’Amato was not involved in this production. It was given to director Juan Piquer Simón by Randall and Steve Minasian, with whom he had worked on previous films. Although the film was set in the United States, specifically in Boston, it was mainly shot in and around Valencia, Spain, home of film director Juan Piquer Simón, though some exterior filming took place in Boston. The shoot lasted four weeks with the cast and crew, and another week went by to film the special effects for an estimated budget of $300,000.
The advertising that FiIm Ventures has concocted emphasizes this campy quality. On the posters, directly underneath the title Pieces is the line “It’s exactly what you think it is.” Has Montoro acquired any other horror pictures before on the basis that they are so bad that they’re funny? “Not really,” Montoro says, “this is really an original. All in all, there aren’t too many pictures made like this,” he adds with a laugh. “This is an experiment for us in a way.”
Montoro believes that it is an experiment that will succeed. He believes that people will pay money to see an unintentionally funny horrorshow. He says, “If the audience enjoys itself, for whatever reason, they’re going to talk about the picture and that’s going to create business. And I think that Pieces is a genuinely, if unintentionally, entertaining picture.
“I’ll tell you how sharp the audience is with this movie. As you know, it starts back in the 40’s, and the mother’s got the Iine, ‘Get me a plastic garbage bag.’ The audience roars at that. They picked up immediately on the fact that there were no plastic garbage bags back then. I was really amazed because you don’t normally think of audiences for this type of picture to be listening that closely. You’re not looking for rapt attention ordinarily and I thought stuff like that would go right by them. But they picked it up right away and we had one of our first big laughs in the picture.”
“Paul Smith: The Reddest Herring” (2007) Character actor Paul Smith discusses a long career in international filmmaking, with stops in Israel, Rome, Mexico, Malta, Spain, and Boston.
BEHIND THE SCENES/INTERVIEWS
Interview with Director Juan Piquer Simón
How did Pieces come to be?
JUAN PIQUER SIMON: Steve Minasian and Dick Randall got in touch with me through my partner Tonino Mori, and offered me a film. After agreeing on a budget, I accepted without giving it a second thought. Tonino, from Almena Films, was a relatively young man, a relatively young man, but he had about 25 years of experience cutting his teeth in all possible markets with small productions, which he purchased and sold constantly. I met him at the Italian market, and we quickly got along very well. Back then, he had what I needed that is to say, a wealth of contacts for the buying and selling of films.
Although you aren’t credited, you revised the screenplay written by Randall and Joe D’Amato (under the pseudonym “John Shadow”).
SIMON: They gave me about 20 pages, and I said, “This isn’t enough to start shooting with.” So I had to add a lot of material to the script they first gave me, developing it from their initial idea: a guy who kills his mother because of their bad relationship. By the way, in the interest of clarity, the title of that first treatment. and the project’s original official name, was Jigsaw.
Considering your contribution to the final shooting script, why aren’t you credited as a co-writer?
SIMON: If I recall correctly, I am credited in the Spanish version. Once I completed work on the movie, it was left in the hands of the American producers, as was control of the marketing. I was very surprised when I saw the posters for the U.S., where only they appear as credited writers. I thought that was very unfair.
Why change the title to Pieces!
SIMON: I changed it. The literal translation [of the original] into Spanish, which is basically the word for “jigsaw puzzle,” just didn’t seem right. For the Spanish title [Mil Gritos Tiene la Noche/The Night Has a Thousand Screams], I was inspired by John Farrow’s Night Has a Thousand Eyes an old movie featuring one of my favorite actors, Edward G. Robinson. This was very suggestive, and with a small adjustment, it was a very apt title for a horror film. In fact, Jess Franco was so inspired by it for one of his own movies. Mil Sexos Tiene la Noche [a.k.a. Night of 1,000 Sexes).
Have you talked about this with Franco?
SIMON: No. I met Jess at the end of the ’90s, during my visit to the horror film week at the San Sebastian Festival, together with Eugenio Martin, Narciso Ibanez Serrador, Paul Naschy… I remember that Amando de Ossorio couldn’t make it. I already knew “Chicho” Serrador and Eugenio, since his wife. Lone Fleming, had worked with me on Where Time Began (1977).
Getting back to your contribution to Pieces’ screenplay, did you have any influences when expanding the story?
SIMON: No. I developed it taking the film’s budget into account, and the idea they had already given me. The advantage of working with Steve and Dick was that, even with little money, you could do things your way.
What was your budget?
SIMON: I think it was something like 32 million of the old pesetas [$250,000], approximately.
In the first draft, was the film already so bloody, or did you add that specific ingredient?
SIMON: The picture had already been conceived to be a gory movie, though most of the bloodiest scenes were my own creation.
Did you have a point of reference for the killer’s style? I ask this because of the similarities to giallo black gloves, a hidden face, brutality in the killings, a long list of suspects…
SIMON: The only influence I had for the movie came from the series The Shadow half-hour episodes I could use as reference. Like, for instance, the characters, the composition of whom served as inspiration for the film.
Did you have any disagreements with Minasian and Randall when it came to being so explicit with the killings?
SIMON: No; they placed no boundaries and gave me complete freedom for everything. I remember during the shooting of the changing-room sequence where the girl is cut in two, and she’s terrified Steve said, “Why don’t you put some water between her legs, so it looks like she’s pissing herself?” You can imagine the sick ideas of those two, can’t you!
How much truth is there to the rumor regarding Joe D’Amato’s participation in the production?
SIMON: I’ve never worked with, nor have I even met Joe D’Amato! As far as I’m concerned, he was never involved [in the shoot]. Now then, if he was eventually hired by Steve or Dick to work on the film in post production or something like that which I doubt I have no knowledge of this.
Depending on which version you see the Spanish or American one Pieces’ music, including the cue that opens the film, varies.
SIMON: Dick and Steve had contacts with CAM, a company in charge of making soundtracks in exchange for a copyright. Because of this deal, they were able to choose whichever they preferred without consulting with me.
You didn’t like the one they chose?
SIMON: Not in the least. I heard it and didn’t like it at all, so I told them to change it. But they said that, since they had already signed a contract, there was no turning back.
What did you do?
SIMON: I told them of my decision to choose the score for the Spanish version myself. So I got in touch with Librado Pastor, who composed some music I liked a lot more. It’s the tune that plays at the beginning, when the son axes his mother to death.
How long was the shoot?
SIMON: I think it was something like five or six weeks, all in Madrid. There was no shooting at all in the U.S., as has sometimes been reported.
Where was the film’s campus located?
SIMON: It was a Madrid tennis club. Speaking of which, that whole tennis thing was a load of shit. . .
What do you mean?
SIMON: The idea of tennis was already in that script they gave me, the 20-page thing. I told Dick and Steve that no one has any clue how to play tennis in Spain and they said, “No problem, because everyone knows how in California.” I was concerned, because Christopher George’s wife had to play. I was even more concerned when I saw her in action: She hadn’t so much as touched a racket in her entire life! So that whole thing about everybody in California being born with a tennis racket in their hands was about as true as the existence of Bigfoot. While we were shooting other sequences, I got a trainer to get her up to speed. Best of all is, it was clear none of the girls had any experience with balls certainly not tennis balls .
Were the interiors also shot at the tennis club?
SIMON: No. For those scenes, we rented a cottage and did a bunch of things there: The pool scene, the dean’s house, the college murder scene, the police station… It was a contractor’s house, actually. Apparently, he’d had some problems with the Internal Revenue Service and was on the run. The house was now theirs, but the guy’s son would rent the house out for film shoots. A lot of movies were shot there.
Was there much improvising, or were there any major setbacks during the production?
SIMON: A general lack of organization. The problem was, there was very little actual text for the movie, and I had to improvise or make up scenes as we went along. Like, for example, the scene with the Chinese guy. One day, Dick and Steve came to the set. They had been shooting a martial-arts film in Madrid, and showed up with one of the Chinese actors. I told them, “Why not put him in a scene and make him the guy’s karate instructor?” And so it followed, we had to add the whole thing with the playing around on the bike, the teacher, etc. We had to create situations so it would have continuity and be logical.
Were there any gory scenes cut out? Or were you not able to shoot anything for any reason?
SIMON: The only thing cut was my hair I just went ahead and shot whatever I felt like, without considering any possible impact at the time on selling the picture, or showing it at a festival. We were just having fun making the movie. I’d put the actors through the wringer and enjoy seeing how far I could push them.
The main cast is made up of non Spanish actors, such as the Georges, Edmund Purdom and Paul L. Smith. What was it like working with them?
SIMON: This cast was imposed by the producers, and the truth is, it went very well. They had been hired for the smallest amount of money possible, the cheapest way you could imagine. They were true pros in every sense of the word. Though it has to be said that Purdom would sometimes be a bit of a hassle, annoying the other actors, and when it came time to shoot, you’d basically have to kill him to get him to shut up. Ian Sera spoke English, so I told him to communicate a message to Mr. Purdom in these exact words: “Mister Piquer says that you should please shut the fuck up, because you’re starting to get on his balls. Furthermore, please start behaving like the professional you supposedly are.”
After that, Purdom got white as a sheet. He told us no one had ever disrespected him in this way, and I answered, “You’re the one who isn’t respecting the work of your colleagues, and is seriously holding back this shoot.” Ultimately, he reflected on that and changed his attitude, and the rest of the gig went on smooth as silk.
And what about the local cast of Jack Taylor, Frank Brana, Ian Sera…?
SIMON: That part of the cast was hired by me. I had worked with those three actors before, and knew very well that they would work out just fine. Besides, the film was shot in English, with reference sound, and they spoke it perfectly. Then there were some characters who were played by amateur actors mostly girls, generally daughters of people involved with the film, who were needed to fill out several scenes.
And the group of dancers?
SIMON: There was a show at the Melia Hotel in Madrid called Scala Melia, a Vegas-style revue. I knew a dancer who was also a choreographer and told her I needed eight or nine girls for the shoot at the cottage. They honestly did a very good job. Then there was Miss Barcelona, not part of the dance troupe, who played the girl who gets killed with the chainsaw in the elevator. We ended up including her in the ballet group, because she had taken classes and had no problem keeping up with the rest.
Was the puzzle girl also from the dance troupe?
SIMON: No. She was an actress who normally did bit parts. I was introduced to her by the nephew of [filmmaker] Jose Luis Saenz de Heredia. He’d worked on some movie with her and told me she had no problem with nudity. I called her, and I personally took the pictures some five or six of them for the puzzle.
How did you do the scene where the kid axes his mother to death? That’s a brutal moment!
SIMON: The kid and the mother are never [seen] together, because they really weren’t. I didn’t want the kid to be there for such a violent scene. I was the one who moved the ax up and down, even though it’s supposedly the kid doing it chopping his mother with it. Also, we made a foam rubber ax, which was designed to fit around the woman’s head, to simulate that particular bit. That was all there was to it.
And the girl decapitated on campus?
SIMON: That scene was pretty complicated. There was a hollowed-out wooden floor that she got under. We made a hole for her to stick her head out. We got real grass and weeds to put around her neck, so it would look convincing. Then we made a replica of her head to use for the decapitation itself, so you could see it fly off the body.
In the scene with the second victim, who gets chopped up at the pool, you make a cameo as a photographer.
SIMON: Yes, wearing a brown leather jacket. The pieces of the chopped-up girl were made from molds.
The journalist’s death on the waterbed, with the knife going through the back of her head and coming out of her mouth is probably the best one in the film.
SIMON: I agree. It’s my favorite scene in the movie, in fact. The effect was accomplished with the tin foil from a pack of cigarettes, and the knife was made of cardboard. We wrapped the cardboard with the foil, creating a harmless effect of the knife penetrating the skull. In theory, the killer’s stunt double would stick the knife into her head. So I grabbed the pack of cigarettes I’d just started, folded the tin foil into a triangle and had the girl hold that between her teeth. Get it? The killer brings down the knife, hits her on the back of the head, and she turns a little so you can see the tin foil between her teeth. The effect was perfect. If you take a close look, when the knife goes into the back of the head, the cardboard bends. It’s not solid. Basically, she had the result of the stabbing prepared from the start. All she had to do was turn her head. It was hard to match up the two movements, but that’s an editing trick, really. In any case, when the actress saw the final result on screen, she was blown away.
What about the murder of the tennis player in the shower, with the chainsaw through her stomach?
SIMON: For that, we used a pig with very smooth skin and makeup so it would be similar to human skin. There’s a flaw in that scene: there should have been a lot more blood, and there’s barely any. We used a syringe to spray the tile wall with it, but not during the cutting itself. Overall, I’m satisfied with the cutting effect, though, because the skin looks very realistic.
The dead girl who falls on Ian Sera at the end is that a dummy, or the real actress playing the journalist, with makeup on?
SIMON: It’s just a girl with makeup. That’s a kind of sinister striptease I didn’t know this girl at all. She came as a model to appear in the scene. She was really ballsy, you know? Instead of giving me any conditions, she said, “I’ll do whatever it takes.” I did a rehearsal for this sequence, by the way. It was totally ridiculous; I mean, the dead girl could have at least been in a freezer or something, right? Instead, she was in a closet, like the Frankenstein monster without the benefit of refrigeration, I had that piece of furniture custom made, so the shelf area could turn. I wanted it to be spectacular, and it occurred to me that it should be like a strip- tease as she’s falling; with her clothes coming slowly off. Her clothing had some cuts in it and was affixed to the closet with a fishing line. While she fell, we would pull on the line so that pieces of the clothing could come off. She did a good job. We did a couple of takes: one from the front and another from a different angle, because we’d missed Ian Sera’s reaction the first time.
Why did you end it that way, with the attack on Ian Sera’s genitals?
SIMON: I didn’t know how to end it, so I decided to do it like that. However, I had another possible ending, where the dean, now detained by the police, wakes up from a dream, like the reaction of a crazy person. If you look, when she grabs the testicles, there’s like a yolk that comes out of one of them.
Were all the special FX and makeup designed by yourself and Basilio Cortijo?
SIMON: Basilio Cortijo was a guy with a lot of practical experience, but very little imagination. Trying to make up for that, I’d put in a dose of creativity while he dealt with the practical logistics. Basilio had worked with Alex Weldon, an effects legend in the U.S. He had a lot of experience, even though he was a bit nuts. I’d like to stress that he came up with very practical solutions for complicated problems. I’ve always loved special effects, so I got very involved in all of this.
Have you always liked gory films?
SIMON: Yeah, I have a lot of fun with this type of movie because I see the humor in it. To see that, all you have to do is look at all the gore in Pieces. In essence, it’s basically Grand Guignol. It’s all very over-the-top.
There were two different one-sheets designed for the Spanish release: a yellow one with a screaming face, and one with a naked girl on the ground, the killer’s face and the chainsaw. Why were there two designs, and which one came first?
SIMON: The one with the yellow face was a drawing I found when I had already commissioned the other poster. The original design the one with the killer in a hat and the girl on the ground was the work of an artist named Jano. I asked him to base it off of The Shadow, which I’ve already talked about, meaning the original comics. Then I found a book with drawings that had that other one, the yellow one. Since I liked them, I decided to just use them both.
Which do you prefer?
SIMON: At first I favored the yellow one because of the face and the way it was screaming. I thought it went well with the movie. But afterward, Jano’s work really pleased me, and I ended up liking it even more. As you can see, the people at Grindhouse Releasing have done a version of Jano’s poster, tying it together with the American one rather than just using the U.S. one-sheet.
What did you think of the U.S. Pieces poster?
SIMON: It was a little too much. . .
Did you have any input?
SIMON: No. They basically used the main elements of the story, with the chainsaw idea from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I mean, they even did a play on the Tobe Hooper film, with the tagline “You don’t have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre!” It took awhile for me to even get a copy of the original American one-sheet. I think I still have it saved somewhere.
The movie took almost a year to come out in the U.S. Why?
SIMON: That’s a bit of a long story… They needed a big sum of money, something like half a million dollars, for its release. So they sold it to a distributor [Film Ventures International] that was a lot smarter than they were and knew his job very well. They had a preview screening to see the reactions of a test audience, which, as I understand, is commonly done in the States. They were particularly interested in the reactions of women, due to the amount of violence perpetrated against women in the film. At the end of that first preview, women wrote on cards with their lipstick, using words like “male chauvinists” and even stronger insults than that. Also, it was slapped with an X rating. With that type of reaction, the distributor had the clear idea that the film wasn’t going to work, and released it [unrated] in just 97 New York theaters. The first week alone, it grossed close to $800,000. After that, the producers seeing its success tried to do another movie in the same style as Pieces. They went to London, spending a ton of money shooting with direct sound and the film was a flop. They lost a lot of money there. The first American distributor, when the movie was finished… Now, I don’t know if this was because he was a complete idiot or whatever, but he told us the movie was too strong for the U.S. market, and the film spent a year without being released until he got in touch with the other distributor I told you about. This guy [Edward L. Montoro] put forward the money from his own pocket and released the film, and it was in fifth place among the top box-office hits of the season, and it continued to make money. The fact is, the movie grossed $25 million gross, that is to say, the net was $7.5 million. From there, I should have charged 25 percent. What happened was, [Montoro] was so thrilled with the money earned, he flew the coop to Rio de Janeiro with all of it, so none of us saw one cent.
Steve and Dick had also sold the video rights. They told me they had received very little money, like $35,000. That was partially true, but they did stiff me, because the $35,000 made up the first payment they received. They later charged a lot more. The rest of the money owed to them was not really tracked, just the first payment. It was difficult to follow the real earnings of the movie in the U.S.
Were you ever able to attend a showing of the film in the States?
SIMON: No, I never got to see the film in American theaters.
Due to that delay, it was released in Spain first, right?
SIMON: Yes, and logically, as you have very well said, due to the American delay.
How were the reviews for Pieces?
SIMON: The critics really gave it a hard time. The funny thing is, some of these critics, or just plain bummers to tell you the truth, revisited the film some time later and commented to me on how amazing it was. In the end, points of view always change with time.
Is it true that, during a screening in Spain, a man stood in front of the screen holding a cross? Were you there, or were you told about this?
SIMON: That happened in Madrid on the day of its premiere, in the afternoon. I never go to the official premiere screenings, but I used to attend the first Madrid shows. And in the evening, at around 7, we went to see how the audience was reacting. I chose that time because I thought that was the more comfortable of the two daily showings; the other was at 10 at night. My partner and I were checking to see that everything was fine with the screening, with a pretty full house. The movie started and people were getting into it and participating, you know? Suddenly, an audience member got up, went to the screen and took out a crucifix while insulting the producers
Did you do anything to get him down?
SIMON: No. And I didn’t dare tell him we were the producers. Due to the success of the screenings, I spoke with the theater so they could also open up a show at 4 in the afternoon. Though they didn’t seem to have a very clear idea, they finally did open up that time, and those shows were also sold out. So every afternoon we would go check out the lines. One day, people were lining up for the 7:00 show when the audience from the previous show came out, and one of them said, “Don’t spend your money. It’s a shit film. Don’t waste your time. . .” Among the people on line, an older woman cried out, “Fascist!” I thought that was a very funny reaction . I also remember a letter sent to me from the U.S., sometime after its premiere in New York. The production company got the letter to me. It was from a fan who told me about his particular affection for it how he would get together with a group of friends, and they would watch it in the style of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
A lot has been written about a sequel. So let’s go one step at a time: After its ’82 release, did you have the opportunity to develop a follow-up?
SIMON: No, not at the time. At the end of the shoot, I got offered the chance to make a sequel to The Last House on the Left. Then a problem arose when the writer [Danny Steinmann] was determined to direct it himself. But anyway, I didn’t like the original film at all. I thought it was a disaster.
So, when did you have an opportunity to make a sequel to Pieces?
SIMON: There was a first attempt by the New York distributors a few years later, around 1985, but without any connection to Steve Minasian and Dick Randall. They insisted on something that was a problem for me: They wanted direct sound, something I didn’t like. As time went by, I shot some scenes, taking into account the original film’s ending, and it went on to be part of some experiments by a company in labs hidden in the forest. The story was developed from the idea that the dead girl’s corpse, just like Frankenstein’s In its props and otherwise. Pieces’ prologue was ahead of its time. Finals are coming up, and everyone on campus is losing their head. monster, comes to life while a sick person is dancing with her, obviously gearing up for some necrophilia. The story began at this lab, where Javier Bardem played a forest ranger. He was suspicious of the people in the lab, because he saw weird things happening in there.
What year did you shoot these scenes?
SIMON: Around the end of the ’80s or the beginning of the ’90s.
Did you ever show them to a production company?
SIMON: Yeah, we moved it around a little, using discarded footage from other movies. But in the end, it went nowhere.
Have you still thought of doing a sequel over the years?
SIMON: Yes, but I realized it was very complicated. I never wrote a new script, but I would jot down ideas. In fact, the people at Grindhouse Releasing were very interested. Though they couldn’t finance it, they were very willing to distribute it. They even told me they had contacted Dick, since Steve had passed away.
Christopher George as Lt. Bracken
Linda Day as Mary Riggs
Frank Braña as Sgt. Holden
Paul L. Smith as Willard
Edmund Purdom as Dean Foley
Ian Sera as Kendall James
Jack Taylor as Professor Arthur Brown
Isabelle Luque as Sylvia Costa
Gérard Tichy as Doctor Jennings
Hilda Fuchs as Grace, the Secretary
May Heatherly as Mrs. Reston
Alejandro Hernández as Timmy Reston
Roxana Nieto as Virginia Palmer, First Victim
Cristina Cottrelli as Jenny, Pool Victim
Leticia Marfil as Suzie, Locker Room Victim
Silvia Gambino as Mary, Elevator Victim
Carmen Aguado as Carla, Aerobics Instructor
Paco Alvez as Alister Schwartz