ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Murder Set Pieces (2005)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Nick Palumbo

Starring:
Sven Garrett/The Photographer
Valerie Baber/Charlotte
Jade Vesser/Jade
Lots of big fake tits
PLOT-CRUNCH
In Vegas; a psychotic, Hitler loving, German photographer (Garrett) finds delight in bench pressing, playing with a doll and doggie-banging/torturing/murdering mucho big breasted female trinkets. That’s it, that’s all. Sleep tight! Don’t let the bed bugs bite!
THE LOWDOWN
Writer/Director Nick Palumbo’s first film “Nutbag” was about a nut murderously bagging loose dames in Vegas. His follow up, Murder Set Pieces is about a German nut murderously bagging loose dames in Vegas. “Insert your own witty quip here”, I’m out of ideas and need a drink pronto!

The folks behind Murder Set Pieces have been playing the “lets toot our own horn” game arduously as way to market their baby. The Official Website claims that it’s the “most controversial film in history.” Not of the year, not of the decade…IN HISTORY! Quite a bold statement for a flick that hasn’t been officially distributed yet and that maybe 1.5 percent of the population knows about. Controversial to whom again? The Lord above, James Dean or Tara Reid’s publicist? Furthermore, the site brags about: -The inclusion of “never before seen” 911 footage” within the flick (That’s a selling point?). -How they were arrested at some time -That it’s the first movie to ever be turned down by processing labs. – And that the Producers were raided by the Attorney Generals' Office. It’s clear what angle they’re taking to push the film; “let’s be notorious”. Having now sat through this self-proclaimed “be all and end all of genre films”; did it live up to its own hype? Two words: gobble-gobble.

Murder Set Pieces only evoked one reaction out of me; “groans”. Why? Well first, by echoing its marketing strategy with the film itself also being blatant and over-compensating in terms of wanting to distress me! When I see a movie trying so pathetically hard to get to me; it usually has the opposite effect; I become irritated, feel talked down to and then I go numb. That jive kicked in when I viewed "Cannibal Holocaust" and it happened here too. Sadly for me, that was just the tip of the cleaver as to why this blood-fest let me down like Hugh Hefner without the magic of Viagra. Here we go! Let’s begin with the clichéd and slim-fast characterization of The Photographer (Garrett) and his one note “coffee mug” personality. I’m supposed to want to follow this Bozo around for a buck and half?! He bored me stiff at frame 2! And I’m also expected to believe that this charm-challenged block of granite is able to entertain a steady relationship while picking up all those hot chicks on the side! PLEASE! The guy couldn’t pick up a hamster at a pet shop! I’ve dated hand-puppets who displayed more “social skills” than this log!

The lack of a well tuned script to support the madness didn’t help matters either. With 30 victims notched on its bed post; there wasn’t much room for a story or variety. Consequence; redundancy kicked in faster than an STD at my ex girlfriend’s house. The bulk of it all went a little bit like this: Killer bench-presses – his nose bleeds- he makes funny faces – kills/rape girl – a filler scene kicks in - repeat from the top. Think a porn flick's narrative structure but replace the sex scenes by kill/torture/rape sequences. After murder number four, I was not only fed-up of this psycho’s "I'm nuts" routine but also of seeing hot naked girls getting whacked! Who knew that was possible? Dialogue wise, it was often on the "off" vibe (specially the killer’s lines) with gems like “Your whore mother, ready to be a cunt”surfacing and adding to the amount of “urgs” I let out. The cup of acid on top of this one’s melon was its slew of “pointless scenes” that could’ve easily been snipped out in the name of pacing (like the celebrity cameos) and the half baked subplots. In terms of the latter; the main one had to do with the murderer’s relationship to some stupid broad named Charlotte (Baber). That perspective was clumsily addressed, shamefully never explored deep enough and far from credible. This girl gave new meaning to the word “oblivious”! Her incredible clueless demeanor was clearly there to serve the plot. I didn’t buy it for a second!

On the slight upside; I’ll give the film this; Palumbo displayed an electric eye behind the camera; the gore effects were amazingly realistic (props to Toe Tag Productions) and although futile, the Tony Todd cameo was fun stuff! Candyman’s shouting match with the picture snapper had me in stitches! You go Todd! Lastly I applauded the flick for bravely having an 11 years old girl be the “heroine”. Thankfully, the talented Jade Vesser (Jade) was up to the task. Now if only her character didn’t do the typical dumb horror movie moves during the final confrontation (like not leaving the house) and didn’t yap so much about the same thing throughout (yes he creeps you out; lets move on). If only…

All in all Murder Set Pieces’ two focal points were; flesh and death and I needed more that just that to be entertained. With ZERO investment in characters or story, I got jaded real fast by the "exploitation" ingredients at hand. To be totally honest, I didn’t wince or give a fudge during 98 percent of the murders; they did NOTHING for me since that's all they were; kills for kills' sakes. Tensionless, repetitive and more transparent than my bank account, Murder Set Pieces had me yelling at the screen:” Is that it man; is that all you got?” “Give me something more already!” Now, will you murder this set piece or embrace it?
GORE
Yup! This one was messy! Unfortunately, all the syrup in the world won’t fully come through if there’s no ice cream under it. We get; gallons of blood, two graphic slit throats, human remains, rotting corpses, a head-job by severed head (Did they see Haute Tension?) torso munching, blood drinking, a girl being nailed to a chair (TCM reference), a chainsawed head (nice one), a stab in the stomach (they kill a kid) and more! It was RAINING RED!
ACTING
Sven Garrett (The Photographer) displayed two facial expressions throughout this flick; stone faced and manic. And when he had to speak; his delivery rang false half the time. To be fair; the blah script didn’t support him much. NOTE: For some reason, I believed the character when he spoke German; too bad the flick didn’t subtitle his lines for us. Was Valerie Baber (Charlotte) in the film again? I wouldn’t know since she was tossed aside where dealing with her character would’ve meant straying away from the lazy plot line and actually having to tackle something substancial. Young Jade Vesser (Jade) was a revelation! She was mucho photogenic and displayed solid acting chops. Great bit of casting! All the big titted females in the film played whores to a “T”! I truly believed they were whores! GOOD WORK!
T & A
The ladies get Sven Garrett’s butt and his buff chest while wet get countless boobies, some twats, a pinch of girl on girl action and more naked chicks. I haven’t seen so many nude babes in one sitting since my last B-Day bash!
DIRECTING
Palumbo displayed a sharp eye behind the camera where he perfectly captured the flashy yet vacuous aura of Las Vegas. His stylish knack at visually expressing surrealism and symbolism (loved the train track bits) impressed me too! Nice stuff! It was also obvious that Palumbo is a big horror fan where I caught nods to TCM (the flash bulbs/corpses thing for example) throughout. Hopefully his next screenplay will do something for me.
SOUNDTRACK
I dug the techno/heavy guitar riff stuff and didn’t care for the rest.
BOTTOM LINE
If extreme gore and jugs alone are all you need in a "dramatic" horror movie (I'm not talking Bad Taste types of efforts here), you'll love this film. To me Murder Set Pieces was a soulless, tediously redundant, un-scary, pitifully attention-seeking and choppily written affair that only had one card to play and that was the “shock” card. Too bad that isn’t worth dick to me within a "character study" unless there’s a solid base backing the goodies up. Granted the affair was well shot, the gore kicked serious butt in its realism and Jade Vesser rocked; hopefully those talents will one day be applied on a better project as opposed to this “Look at me, look at me, 911 footage, look at me!" opus.

The Official Site for the film self-proclaims that: “Director Nick Palumbo has raised the bar and shattered the mold with his Murder Set Pieces, the horror film from which all others will now be judged.” Arrow in the Head states: Raised the bar and shattered the mold? The horror film from which all others will now be judged??? Easy man!!! All I saw was countless silicone knockers and graphic murders galore. I’ve been seeing that stuff for years and at times, springing off weighty/well-rounded storylines at that! ” The only bar raising that went on here was the one in my pants when the end credits rolled and I was FINALLY free to press the “stop” button to go surf some real porn. Now that was something!
BULL'S EYE
It’s said that the flick cost $2.2 million to make.

Nick Palumbo is set to start shooting his new film, "Sinister" soon; hopefully it won’t be about a loon killing sluts in Vegas.

Hottie Cerina Vincent (from Cabin Fever) and Porn Star Crissy Morgan showed up in the film.

Great men; Edwin Neal (TCM), Gunnar Hansen (TCM) and Tony Todd (Candyman) all popped up in cameos. It was groovy to see them but their scenes could’ve easily been snipped out without hindering the storyline.

VISIT THE OFFICIAL MURDER SET PIECES SITE HERE

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