'Body Parts' doesn't quite make a whole

MOVIE REVIEW

August 03, 1991|By Stephen Wigler

"Body Parts" is as tasteful as the Jeffrey Dahmer jokes making the rounds. No wonder they won't show TV ads for this movie in Milwaukee -- it's a cinematic raw bar, the best film for barbecue lovers since "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."

The germ of this so-bad-it's-almost-good film by Eric Red (as in Eric the Red?) is as old as "Donovan's Brain." Some poor chump loses a body part and gets a transplant from another chump RTC who's lost more than a part -- who's lost, like, everything! Before ,, long, the guy with the borrowed part is behaving like the guy he got it from -- or worse yet, the dead guy wants it back. (This is the primal nightmare of horror movies about body parts: God's not in charge of the Resurrection.)

Bill (Jeff Fahey), a psychology professor, has his arm amputated after an accident and another person's arm is attached. The transplant scene is great -- we see Bill's bleeding shoulder socket and see the genius-level surgeon, the bitch-goddess Dr. Abbott (Lindsay Duncan), wield a circular saw on the donor's arm. But, in what seems at the time to be only an anesthesia-induced nightmare, Bill senses that the operating room is awash in cops with shotguns and that the "donor" still seems alive.

For the next few months, Bill seems fine. Then he nearly tears his son's head off and practically strangles his wife. Bill does some investigating and discovers that:

1: The arm belonged to a homicidal maniac named Charley Fletcher who had been sentenced to death but whose execution had been left to Dr. Abbott (for the public good so she could save his body parts).

2: Dr. Abbott attached Charley's other arm to a painter -- who now paints scenes of mayhem and murder -- and his legs to a heretofore mild-mannered double-amputee, who now wants to kick other guys' chests in.

3: And -- this is the best part -- Charley himself is still alive: The brilliant Dr. Abbott had sawed his head off but transplanted it to another body.

Now the movie really gets down and dirty. Charley doesn't have to ask "Where's the rest of me?" -- he knows where it is and begins killing the guys who have it. Dr. Abbott assists him because she realizes that sawing off someone's arms, legs and head, then reattaching them to other people, and then re-assembling it will be the greatest achievement in medical history -- even bigger than if all the king's horses and all the king's men had put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

'Body Parts'

Starring Jeff Fahey, Lindsay Duncan and Kim Delaney.

Directed by Eric Red.

Released by Paramount.

Rated R.

*

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