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Psychotopia

Film Review: Body Parts (1992)

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SYNOPSIS:

A psycho videotapes his dismemberment of strippers.

REVIEW:

If you see the name Body Parts, you’ll be forgiven if you immediately think of the Jeff Fahey movie of the same name from 1991. Sadly, this is not that movie. That flick is a much higher quality than the B-movie hell that I find myself stuck in. Instead, what we have is far more exploitative and far less intelligent.

This particular piece of celluloid centers on the murders of a couple of strippers, and a few prostitutes, some strippers and prostitutes that ply their wares at the Body Parts strip club. The killer has made recordings of the particularly violent deaths and left the tapes at the crime scenes. Now it’s up to a couple of detectives to try to solve the crime. As they get more desperate, they end up going to a psychic who claims that the killer is the spirit of a dead Egyptian ruler who uses cats and dogs as its vessels in the world of the living. The cops now have to figure out if the psychic is a complete nutcase, or if there’s some truth to his preposterous claims.

When I first stumbled upon this movie, some of the blurbs I read for it indicated that it was some kind of slasher comedy. Once the end credits rolled, I couldn’t help but feel like that was a bit of false advertising. Yes, the murders were fairly gruesome, as one would expect, but the body count was surprising low. We didn’t get the normal stalk and slash formula either where victims are picked off one by one as the story progresses. Instead, this movie is more of a slightly comedic take on the serial killer thrillers that centers on a couple of detectives as they follow leads. If you go in expecting a slaughterfest like Friday the the 13th, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

As the story, such as it is, progresses it becomes apparent that the cops are not particularly good at their job. In fact, they struck me as being lucky to still have their badges at all. All they do is question people and then rule them out as a suspect, sometimes when there really isn’t a reason too. Not a whole lot happens in the investigation, and most of the time the movies seems to try to fill in the run time with gratuitous nudity. The mystery itself is never interesting anyways, and the killer’s reveal is so dumb that it renders any attempts at guessing who the culprit is pointless. That’s mainly because that even though the groundwork was laid for the “twist”, it undercuts any kind of mystery. The writing and dialogue is weak, so odds are you won’t really care enough about what happens. After a while you’ll begin to suspect that the real motive of the film is to find excuses to show more naked flesh on the screen without crossing the line into outright porn.

For a movie that tries to be a bit of a comedy, it is not very funny. Most of the humor comes from moments of silliness that is more apt to make you groan than chuckle. The psychic is a great example of this. His theory that the actual murderer is the spirit of a long deceased Egyptian ruler is meant to be funny since it’s such a ridiculous concept. However, there’s just something about this attempt at humor that comes across as forced. It doesn’t feel like it fits with the overall film. A lot of the attempts at comedy feels the same way. There’s something almost dissonant about it all.

Most of the acting is just absolutely atrocious as well. Dick Monda as the older detective in charge of the case is the only person that does an adequate job in his role. All that really means is that his acting is the one that causes the least amount of pain to watch. The rest of the cast needs to get their money back from any and all drama classes they ever attended, assuming they actually went to any. If anyone took the time to act less like caricatures and more like real people in the real world, things would be more bearable. Honestly, if they had replaced most the actors with chimpanzees hopped up on cocaine, it’d probably be a huge improvement. At least the reactions from chimps would be more genuine that anyone that tries emotion on screen.

The only real good things one can say about the film is that it has some good gore effects, and the women were pretty to look at. The rest of the product is not worth the price of admission. A barely-there story, wretched acting, an uninteresting mystery, and lame humor really drags this down. It just doesn’t have that same special something, that charm or insanity, that other B-flicks have to make it fun. Don’t watch this movie, and if you run across it, repress the memory of ever having run across it.

I wish I could repress the memory of having watched it.

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