Monday, June 14, 2010

Body Parts (1991)

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Tagline:

The transplant was a success. Then the donor came to take it back.

Back of Video:

Bill Chrushank (Jeff Fahey) is a criminal psychologist who loses his arm and nearly his life in a grisly car accident. A daring medical operation follows in which a donor's arm is successfully grafted onto Bill's body. But after the operation, the arm starts to take on a violent life of its own, striking out against Bill's wife and children.

Consumed by fears about his dangerous behaviour, Bill is driven to learn the donor's identity - a horrifying discovery that delivers him into a world of unimaginable terror.

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Movie Review:

This movie is a guilty pleasure of mine. I saw it on the video shop shelves when it came out (I was 12 at the time) and wanted to rent it, but being rated R I wasn't allowed to. Somewhere along the way I finally did get to see it (kids always have ways to see R rated horror) and I damn well loved it. I picked up an ex-rental VHS about six years ago and although it has been released on R1 DVD since, it is unfortunately deleted and doesn't show up cheap often. I wanted to review a horror movie on the blog as well and although it's not action-packed (it has a few good scenes) it's definitely worth watching.

Body Parts stars Jeff Fahey, the Lawnmower Man, as typical hard working family man Bill Chrushank. He works as a criminal psychologist and teacher and he starts the movie interviewing an insane prisoner who just killed his cellmate. Burnt out from having to justify dealing with these psychopaths he goes home to his wife for a cuddle. The next day he sets off to work again but while taking a dictaphone recording in his car he notices the tyre of the car in front of him is coming loose. It comes off and he manages to swerve it, but a truck coming from behind fails to break in time, smashing into Fahey's car and sending him through the windshield.

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You know how some movies, no matter how small or cult they are, have scenes that stick in your head from years past? This movie has two for me. The first is when Fahey wakes up in hospital on a gurney in theatre. Looking around the room there are doctors with shotguns and one with a bible reading a prayer to another patient. He sees a computer screen with a human form on it and the words 'seperation in progress'. The sound of a bonesaw whirs up and Doctor Webb (Lindsay Duncan) cuts off the head of the other patient! Fahey is gassed and falls asleep. Awesome scene.

He wakes up with tubes protuding from him everywhere and a new arm all bandaged up. Things go swimmingly at first; through a training montage Fahey gets his strength back and can fully utilise his new arm. It has a few teething problems, like massive apparent spasms, but otherwise it's fine - he can play ball with his son and fiddle around with his wife (no boobs, sadly).

Fahey resumes his teaching job but in the middle of a lecture starts getting strange visions. The next day he cuts himself shaving and lashes out at his son. Later on he even strangles his wife. Fahey goes to see his criminal patient who notices a tattoo on Fahey's arm that is apparently only given to death row inmates. Concerned as to whose arm he has, Fahey gets his fingerprints run by a cop friend and the results are shocking; he has the arm of Charley Fletcher, a multiple murderer serial killer. Pissed off he talks to Doctor Webb who dismisses his worries, but determined to find out more he finds out the names of the other donor recipients and has a chat with them.

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The recipient of the other arm is Remo Lacey (horror alumni Brad Douriff, otherwise known as the voice of Chucky and The Gemini Killer from Exorcist III). Before the operation he was a crap painter but with his new arm he paints works of art, albeit disturbing visions that Fahey says are from the mind of Charley Fletcher. Like the Doctor, he dismisses Fahey as an idiot. The other recipient is a guy who lost both his legs (Mark Draper, played by Peter Mumik), but thanks to Charley's generous donation he can now play basketball a tad better. He also dismisses Fahey's worries, but he really shouldn't have because the next day he gets his legs ripped off. Could Charley Fletcher still be alive and wanting his limbs back?

This is a great movie. I loved it when I was younger and I still love it now but sadly no-one I know remembers this movie. I'm not even sure if it went to cinema, at least here in Australia. It moves at a fast pace and is a really interesting plot for a film, has a few minor police procedural scenes and restrained amount of gore - the really good 'science' kind, not the Fulci kind (though I love that kind as well). Fahey plays this role well and even has a few action scenes when he gets in a car chase (with explosions) and blows away a guy with a shotgun. This kind of movie could be really silly but Body Parts isn't silly in the slightest, there aren't even any jokes cracked. Great acting all round.

I mentioned two memorable scenes. The other is near the end when Fahey returns to the medical clinic to see the Doctor but what he finds is not what he expected. The films poster is a dead giveaway. There is a tank in the clinic with arms, legs and a torso all hooked up to machines and pipes feeding them blood. The torso even quivers as presumably it's heart is still beating. Fahey is sickened by it all and blows the parts away with a shotgun. Fantastic scene with more of that restrained medical gore.

Seek this one out. The DVD is hard to get but the VHS goes for a few cents. Hopefully the DVD gets reissued or maybe we will get treated to a bluray one day.

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The Video:

Despite being a VHS (C&C Video PAL ex-rental), the picture quality was pretty sharp and the sound in Dolby Surround and clear as a DVD. The picture was re-formatted from its native 2.35:1 aspect ratio as the majority of VHS were, and for the most part the reformatting works well, but there are a few obvious scenes where important characters are out of the viewing boundaries when they shouldn't be. The out-of-print DVD is in the native aspect ratio. Runtime 85 minutes.

Sourced From:

50c ex-rental from a local video library.

Trailer:

More Screens:

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