Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 88 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Jeff Fahey (THE LAWNMOWER MAN, WHITE HUNTER BLACK HEART), Brad Dourif (ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, DEADWOOD), Kim Delaney (MISSION TO MARS, DELTA FORCE, HUNTER'S BLOOD), Zakes Mokae (DUST DEVIL, OZ, Tony-winner for MASTER HAROLD... AND THE BOYS), editor Anthony Redman (LONE WOLF MCQUADE, BAD LIEUTENANT) and director Eric Red (writer of NEAR DARK, BLUE STEEL, and THE HITCHER).
Tag-lines: "It will scare you... to pieces."
Best one-liners: "I now have a murderer's blood in my blood."
Man, Jeff Fahey was totally on a hot streak in the late 80's, early 90's. Kind of like a latter-day, less mainstream Roy Scheider, he was given myriad chances to shine- and he did- but his star somehow refused to take hold.
Thankfully, his career's been given a real resurgence lately thanks to PLANET TERROR and TV's LOST, but anyone who thinks Fahey can't carry a feature need look no further than BODY PARTS. Amputation is such a visceral, unsettling motif- since the dawn of cinema, masters like Lon Chaney (THE UNKNOWN, THE PENALTY) have exploited it to tremendous effect. Then came the trend of 'killer's body parts transplanted to make ordinary people killers' genre which kind of envelops everything from FRANKENSTEIN to THE HANDS OF ORLAC to MAD LOVE. BODY PARTS hitches on to these rich traditions, combines it with the modern-day medical thriller and a script adapted from a novel by the writers of DIABOLIQUE, VERTIGO, and EYES WITHOUT A FACE, and it makes for a film that feels at once conventional and inventive, and one which truly remains unnerving until the very last frame. The editing, by Abel Ferrara-regular Anthony Redman, and the visuals, by Dutch cinematographer Theo van de Sande, are crisp, glossy, terse, and accentuate each other perfectly. Fahey is on fire- he makes everything involving the arm gruelingly realistic, and you continually feel his pain and exhaustion. He gives us a man in psychological turmoil, a loving father, and a steadfast asskicker without once disconnecting from the character and going over the top. We've got an awesome supporting turn from Brad Dourif as well as a manic, grotesquely-inspired artist.
There's even a sweet barfight scene reminiscent of THE FLY where we get to see the murderous body parts in action.
Four solid stars. For a similar feel, also see Dario Argento's TRAUMA, his 1993 medical thriller which also happens to contain a neck brace car chase, multiple amputations, and the acting talents of Mr. Dourif.