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Pieces. (Artists Releasing Corporation; 85 minutes; unrated; 1983). “You don’t have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre!” blared the creative ad copy for this Reagan-era Spanish slaughterhouse, and indeed the producers went no further than Madrid—even though the action is supposed to take place in Boston. Director Juan Piquer Simon’s sick flick begins with a 1942 prologue that shows young Timmy busily piecing together a jigsaw puzzle of a naked lady. Mom bursts into the bedroom (which features a touch-tone telephone!) and gets upset with her son’s naughtiness, as she attempts to destroy his hidden porno magazines. In turn, Timmy gets really upset and literally gives her the ax Lizzie Borden-style, then tells the cops that an unseen intruder is responsible for the horrific crime.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. (Screen Gems/Columbia; 92 minutes; R; widescreen; 2009). The third monster rally in this violent vampires-vs.-werewolves franchise is actually a centuries-earlier prequel that sets up the modern-day events found in the 2004 and 2006 editions. So it may help viewers to bone up on their homework to fathom all the new info about tortured lineages, family betrayals and mixed bloodlines. Then again, maybe not: With all the glowering countenances, cutthroat machinations and bursts of heroism at hand, a scorecard’s really not necessary to divine this stanza’s Shakespearean (as in Romeo and Juliet, natch) complexities.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona. (MGM/Weinstein Company; 97 minutes; PG-13; 2008). This comedy of manners has been hailed in some quarters as a return to artistic form for writer-director Woody Allen, along with a better-than-usual (for him, at least) domestic box-office take of $23 million. Allen again spurns the safety of his familiar Big Apple backdrop—as he did with the London-based Match Point, Scoop and Cassandra’s Dream—and instead globe-hops to Spain to transplant his assemblage of neurotic characters and intersecting storylines. And since this scenic outing earned a surprising $60 million overseas, maybe Allen will cinematically continue with his international infatuation.
Private Screenings: Ernest Borgnine. (Turner Classics; 57 minutes; unrated; 2009). Cable’s Turner Classic Movies pays an it’s-about-friggin-time tribute to one of Hollywood’s most versatile character actors for the network’s newest installment of its occasional interview series. Since Ernest Borgnine turns 92 on Saturday, Jan. 24, however, you gotta wonder what TCM has been waiting for—and that they’d better start getting more of these old-school legends on the series before the grim reaper intercedes.
Loco boy makes good: East Syracuse auteur Bobcat Goldthwait (pictured here when his movie Sleeping Dogs Lie played at Eastwood’s Palace Theatre during the 2007 Syracuse International Film Festival) has a new comedy currently making the rounds at this week’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. He wrote and directed World’s Greatest Dad, starring Robin Williams as a failed writer who inadvertently earns great praise following some tragedy that befalls his obnoxious teen son. (“It’s like Cyrano de Bergerac with a dead kid,” cracked Goldthwait during one interview.) No word yet on a possible distributor for the dark comedy.
The Unborn. (Rogue/Universal; 87 minutes; PG-13; widescreen; 2009). The year’s first horror flick out the chute is this minor trifle that somehow amassed nearly $20 million in its opening weekend—a testament to its target audience of easy-to-spook adolescents in the hunt for their next cheap thrill. Unborn writer-director David S. Goyer lucratively mined similar territory with the PG-13-rated The Invisible, although he’s best known to fanboys for his association on the Blade and Christopher Nolan-Batman franchises.
My Bloody Valentine: Special Edition. (Paramount; 90 minutes; R; 1981). Yes, The New Times briefly reviewed this Canadian splatter epic about a pickax-happy miner gone mental when Eastwood’s Palace Theatre ran a 35mm print last September, yet this DVD reissue is of major interest to hard-core gorehounds. To help push Lions Gate’s new remake, My Bloody Valentine 3-D, due in multiplexes on Friday, Jan. 16, Lions Gate Home Entertainment has teamed with Paramount Home Entertainment for this newly restored disc, which features nearly three minutes of gruesome antics scissored in 1981 to appease the ratings board and apparently locked up in Paramount’s vault ever since. Both versions are available on the DVD and letterboxed at 1.78:1; the original R version runs 90 minutes and 20 seconds, while the restored print clocks in at 92 minutes and 53 seconds.
Bela Lugosi (left) and Boris Karloff (right) flank helpless victim Lucille Lund in The Black Cat, a classic 1934 horror flick to be screened in a 35mm print on Sunday, Jan. 18, 2:30 p.m., and Monday, Jan. 19, 7 p.m., at Rome’s Capitol Theatre, 220 W. Dominick St. It’s part of a double bill with a 1941 comedy-mystery version of The Black Cat (with Lugosi in a supporting role) that honors the 200th birthday of Edgar Allan Poe—which means that adult admission is only $2 (a penny per year), with kids under 12 paying $1. For information, call 337-6453.