Body Parts (1991)
Director: Eric Red
Lindsay Duncan/Dr. Webb
Criminal psychologist and family duder Bill (Fahey) has an insane car accident, loses his arm and thanks to a novel medical procedure, gets a new one grafted onto him. But when violent dreams begin to haunt him and his new limb starts acting-up solo, Billly-Boy launches into an investigation to find out what the arm is going on!
"Science, like nature, destroys to build." – Dr. Webb
Unfortunately for everyone involved, "Body Parts" received the silent treatment at the box-office upon its theatrical release. You see, back then, real life serial killer Jeffrey “I hope you’re barbecuing in hell right now fuck-wad” Dahmer was kidnapping and eating folks. The last thing filmmgoers wanted to see was a movie named “Body Parts”. Over time, the picture has gained somewhat of a cult status on home video and for good reason…it’s a fine genre film.
This bad boy’s spine-chilling initial premise was the first appendage to be firmly glued to my noggin. Not only was the sole notion of having somebody else’s arm attached to one’s body chilling in itself, but the film also asked serious “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy” types of questions, with the key one being “where does evil reside”? Is it in the flesh, the mind, the blood, the soul or in my ex-girlfriend’s panties? The answer to that query was splendidly addressed in a heavily macabre and highly pleasurable fashion. I can think of worse ways to slaughter time than by following wild-eyed, crazy-haired and turtle-neck whoring Jeff Fahey around as he suffers through a mucho “out there” ordeal. Did this dude go through hell or what!? FUN STUFF! The affair’s riveting quota was jacked up by the mere fact that Fahey was at his “Faheyed” best here. He played both appealing and mucho aggressive flawlessly. In the hands of a lesser actor, the character might not have been as fascinating. What a wonderful bit of casting!
What’s more, the graphic red grub on this plate was quite esteemed by this ketchup glutton. The flick sported some truly grisly scenes that hit the screen hard while beating us like the unwanted pet hamsters that we are. Every time I thought this Mack-Truck couldn’t "up" its helping of violence…it did! Thank goodness for Chef Boya-Red! The cherry on top of this bloody Sunday was Red’s firm directorial hand. The chap was all over this one with his most stylish film yet as a director. Let me count the visual treats! The insane car accident bit with the Zoom-In freeze frame! GOLD! The weird, stretched lens, operation sequence…SOLID! The overhead “crash out of the window” shot…AMAZING! The slow motion, hardcore brawl in the bar! SPLENDID! The latter is actually one of my favorite scenes from the film which has stayed with me since I first saw it back in 1991. I felt every punch and so wanted to get in there to join in the rumble. Breaking beer bottles on heads = fun for the whole family.
On the hitch side of the ride, "Body Parts" didn’t have all of its members screwed on tight. On the minor slab, I really could’ve gone without those two grating, overly syrupy kids…BARRRRF! I very much wanted the son to tell his dad to go f*ck himself so I could buy it. TOO NICE! And why was that detective (Mokae) in the movie again, other than to act as a device to serve the plot? What a weak and annoying part! He felt like a film cop! My biggest peeve though had to do with the last block where smarts were dropped in the name of going for the jugular. Granted, that new direction blessed us with some gnarly graphic kills, mucho gunplay (I love shotguns…) and one hell of a nutty car chase with two dudes handcuffed to each other…in different cars….you do the math! OH YEAH! But the flipside was that the narrative sold itself short, abandoning the compelling semi-cerebral approach it was putting out to that point, while turning a tad “Frankenstein” influenced silly for its ending.
In general though, "Body Parts" was an atmospherically gothic, fast-paced, brutal and an, at times, quite ingenious puppet show of severed limbs. Sure, it should’ve stuck to one game as opposed to trying to do two things at the same time (being intelligent and going "ga-ga-goo-goo" with high gore/stunts) but when the end credits rolled, I was a happy surgeon, chewing on my scalpel with joy. You can’t go wrong with that feeling. LET’S RIP OFF SOME LIMBS AND BEAT EACH OTHER WITH THEM!
So that’s why he’s named Eric Red!!! The plasma flowed freely with a saw to the neck, ripped off legs, a ripped off arm, a shotgun blast to the melon, lots of blood splashes, severed limbs up the ying-yang and more!
Jeff Fahey (Bill) is such an underrated actor. His turns in "Lawnmower Man" and "Psycho 3" were excellent and he hit the jackpot again here by delivering a powerful and intense performance. His hair rocked too! Kim Delaney (Karen) did her best Demi Moore impression and...it worked! Lindsay Duncan (Dr. Webb) was chilling as the heartless doctor. Brad Dourif (Remo) was remarkable in one of the most “sympathetic” parts I have ever seen him play. Zakes Mokae (Det. Sawchuck) didn’t have much of a part and didn’t do much with what he had either. Can you spell “throwaway”? He sure can!
T & A
The ladies get a shirtless Jeff Fahey and we get severed male limbs and Kim Delaney’s back. Why her back? I give a shite about her back! That scene screamed tit shot, but nobody answered! COME ON!
Red went hog-wild on this one, offering creative angles, a powerful use of slow motion, some groovy quick flashes of muscles acting up, a firm handle on the action/stunt scenes and a winning bleak atmospheric veneer to boot. This nasty little ditty is, in my often inebriated opinion, Red’s best work as a director.
We get a moody and efficient score by Loek Dikker.
IMAGE: We get an anamorphic widescreen 2:35.1 image.
SOUND: We get an English 5.1 Surround, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround and English subtitles.
EXTRAS: What a bummer! None whatsoever! Where’s my director commentary? What about a featurette on the effects? The deleted scenes? Or at very least...the damn trailer! We get nada, squat, zilch…NATHING! Paramount…I have to ask…do you even give a shit about the genre fans that buy your product? I’m waiting for an answer!
"Body Parts" was well written for the most part, quite horrific, adequately acted, stylishly directed and exceedingly stunt-ambitious (the car mayhem on hand was beyond superior to the norm). I was hands-down entertained throughout even when this nasty little bugger’s IQ level dropped to a “f*ck it, let's tear the house down” level. If you haven’t seen this film, I urge you to rip this one’s legs and graft them into your DVD player. Play with this part and thank me in the morning with another part. NOTE: If you know what that means…I’ll buy you a beer and a Mini-Van.
This film was shot in 45 days in Toronto, Canada and had a $10 Million budget.