ByPaul Donovan, writer at
A jerk with an opinion. An explorer of transgressive cinema. See more things about movies at
Paul Donovan

The images and language in this article about the shocking classic are not for sensitive readers.

This controversial movie never really made it out of obscurity. It’s a bat-shit crazy, super gory exploitation slasher film that was released in 1982. And it's awesome. Even though it was unrated, and played the grindhouse circuit in the US, scenes were still cut out of the American release. The uncensored version did not appear in North America until 2008. Since it was just released on Blu-ray in March 2016, this is a good time to revisit the qualities of the film that make it both memorable, and censored.

The gore in the film is of much higher quality than the movie itself. This is terrible film-making.

Let me just put that out there. This movie is undeniably awful. Some people think it was made by people that had no idea what they were doing. Some people hold the opinion that the movie was made bad on purpose, perhaps as a spoof of other slasher films. But nobody defends the quality of the movie. Everybody can agree that it’s bad.

Part of the reason it’s so bad is because it’s a Spanish film, but it pretends it's in Boston. The representation of the U.S. in this movie is a little off-kilter, like it exists in parallel universe. It’s what I think life would be if America became a giallo film.

The story is completely loony.

It starts out with a sweet little boy, Timmy, quietly putting together a jigsaw puzzle in his room. His mom comes in, and sees that the puzzle Timmy is working on is a nude woman. Mom freaks out, and calls Timmy a pervert. Timmy kills her with an axe.

Flash forward 40 years, and when a college girl skateboards through a mirror, it triggers something in Timmy, and he starts putting together the nude woman puzzle again. But this time, the puzzle pieces are body parts!

I'm not even going to begin discussing the logical vacuum in which this movie exists. That's a treat that viewers best discover on their own.

It’s an un-mysterious mystery

You don’t see the adult Timmy, so it’s technically a case of “figure out who the killer is”. But the movie throws such intense suspicion on a few characters that you know right away it’s not them.

Besides, the audience isn’t really going to care who the killer is. You don’t watch movies like this for the mystery.

Like the story, the acting is hilariously awful

Almost everybody in the film seems to have based their characters on stereotypes from other bad movies. Some of the dialogue seems to have been written by stoners; this would explain the quote made by a female college student that “the most beautiful thing in the world is smoking pot and fucking on a waterbed at the same time.”

According to an interview with the director, the female stars of the film were supposed to be professional tennis players, but none of the actresses knew how to play tennis, so a coach had to be hired to help them not look totally pathetic.

There’s a lot of nudity

All this talk about acting reminds me: what do some actresses do if they can’t actually act? They show their boobs. There's a lot of boobs in this movie.

Some of the gore scenes are impressive, even by today’s standards.

There’s no CGI blood in this movie. It’s all practical effects. But even more than 30 years later, some of the violence is still impactful. The stabbing on the waterbed is still pretty great, as is the chainsaw killing in the elevator (apparently, they actually sawed through a pig carcass for that one).

It requires no concentration. At all.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t pay attention to the plot. The writers didn’t. The movie is 85 minutes long, which is about 45 minutes longer than it needs to be. There is a lot of silly and unnecessary dialogue, or aimless walking, just to get to the next kill scene.

The ending is one of the greatest slasher finales ever

The final 30 seconds of the movie comprise one of the funniest and biggest WTF moments in slasher movie history. In my opinion, this scene alone proves that the movie was not meant to be taken seriously.

There is no socially redeeming value to this movie. Zero.

At the time this movie was released, there was no reason you could give for watching the movie except that you wanted to watch gut-churning violence and pointless nudity. It is of value today as a piece of film history, or as an example of controversial and banned exploitation films of the 1980’s. But even if you use those reasons to watch it, you still need to be interested in watching gut-churning violence and pointless nudity. If you can admit you’re a gorehound as well as a film buff, then you must watch this film. Otherwise, there’s nothing to see here.

Here's the super graphic, super NSFW trailer.


What do you think of the movie?


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