Halloween Havoc!: BODY PARTS (Paramount, 1991)

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October is  here, and Halloween is on its way! I’ll be reviewing horror movies all month on Cracked Rear Viewer and Through the Shattered Lens, covering everything from Aztec Mummies to Zombies! Pleasant screams!

This 1991 variation on THE HANDS OF ORLAC stars Jeff Fahey as psychologist Bill Chrushank, who loses an arm in a horrific car crash. Dr. Agatha Webb (Lindsay Duncan) tells his wife Karen (Kim Delaney) she can restore his arm with a new surgical procedure. Webb grafts a human arm onto Bill’s body. After surgery and therapy, the operation is a success. Bill’s new arm is good as new, but he soon begins experiencing weird visions. Upon doing some research, Bill discovers the arm belonged to executed mass murderer Charles Fletcher. He finds out others have been given Fletcher’s limbs, including artist Remo (Brad Dourif) and young Mark (Peter Murnik).Bill also starts losing control of the arm, as if it has a mind of its own.

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Bill and his son are horseplaying at home, and Bill violently lashes out with an elbow smash to the kid’s kisser. When he tries to strangle wife Karen in bed, he’s forced to leave home. Bill meets at a bar with his fellow graftees. He’s goaded into a fight with a belligerent drunk, and almost kills him. The bar patrons try to stop him, but Bill’s out of control, stopped only by a superkick from Mark. The cops, led by Detective Sawchuck (Zakes Mokae), help break up the melee.

The terror now piles up as Mark and Remo are both killed, their new limbs ripped from their bodies. Bill and Sawchuck get involved in a mad car chase as someone with the grafted head of Charles Fletcher handcuffs himself to Bill, trying to rip his arm off. The cars roar down city streets side by side as Bill desperately tries to hang on to his arm. I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s plenty bizarre and bloody good.

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Director Eric Red ratchets up the terror slowly, building up to the gruesome climax. Red wrote the screenplays for THE HITCHER and NEAR DARK, and worked on this one with Norman Snyder. It’s based on the novel “‘Choice Cuts” by Frenchmen Pierre Boileau and Thomas Norcejac, who also collaborated on books and screenplays for classics like DIABOLIQUE, VERTIGO, and EYES WITHOUT A FACE. A fine pedigree, indeed. Loek Dikker’s score adds to the eeriness, and he won a Saturn Award for his contribution. BODY PARTS is a well crafted movie guaranteed to satisfy horror lovers. A chilling good time! .

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