Body Parts 1991
body parts | eric red | norman snider | jeff fahey | lindsay duncan | kim delaney | thriller | united states | mad scientist | zakes moake | brad dourif | john walsh | paul ben-victor | peter murnik | nathaniel moreau | sarah campbell | andy humphrey | lindsay merrithew
Film: Body Parts
Director: Eric Red
Writer: Eric Red and Norman Snider
Starring: Jeff Fahey, Lindsay Duncan and Kim Delaney
This was another film I never heard of before. It was part of the list for the best horror films of the 1990’s series on a podcast, so I checked it out for that. The synopsis for this is after losing his arm in a car accident, a criminal psychologist has it replaced with a limb that belonged to a serial killer.
In this film we follow Bill Chrushank (Jeff Fahey). He is married to Karen (Kim Delaney) and they have two children, Bill Jr. (Nathaniel Moreau) and Samantha (Sarah Campbell). As the synopsis states, Bill is a criminal psychologist and early on we see him interviewing an inmate, Ray Kolberg (Paul Ben-Victor). Later that night Bill is talking to his wife as this interview had a pretty profound effect on him. He really wants to take someone with a broken mind and fix them, but he’s never heard of it happening in any of his research.
The next day on his way to work, Bill gets into a car accident. It is pretty wild what happens and we shift to Karen in the hospital waiting room. She is asked by Dr. Agatha Webb (Lindsay Duncan) if they can do an experimental procedure where they will use the arm of someone else and attach to Bill’s. She is leery about the procedure and they can’t wait until he wakes up for his permission. She decides to go forward with it.
This surgery is a success. Bill wakes up with the arm of someone else attached to him. It takes some getting used to, but pretty early into rehab it is already moving much better than expected. He ends up going back home to his family and there’s a media circus.
Everything isn’t perfect though. Bill gets visions of some pretty violent things and his personality starts to change. He has outburst of anger that upset his wife and children. There is also a moment where Ray notices a tattoo on the wrist of the new arm and he freaks out. This forces Bill to get fingerprinted and it turns out the arm belonged to a notorious serial killer Charley Flectcher.
Bill goes to speak with Dr. Webb about what he’s experiencing and she tells him that there’s nothing going on with the arm that it is all in his head. While there, he illegally figures out two other people who were recipients of items from Charley. He sees both of them out. One of them is a painter Remo Lacey (Brad Dourif), who ever since getting it has been painting his best work, but the problem is that it is the memories that Charley had of his crimes. Mark Draper (Peter Murnik) got both of his legs and almost causes a car accident for him.
Are what they experiencing something in their heads or is there something more going on? This brings up the question that Bill poses, is the evil of Charley contained in the heart or in the flesh?
Now I do have to say, I loved the set up for this film. I’ve seen this story done before, so it isn’t something that is completely new. I really enjoy the idea that memories and the personality of a person could be kept in the DNA of a body part. There’s another aspect of it that gets resolved late in the film, but I’m not the biggest fan of that idea. Ignoring that though, it’s even more interesting though that something like the anger and rage could overcome a less dominate personality like what Bill has. It also could be looked at that he is having guilt about getting this item and it is all in his head. The more he looks into it, the more it gets worse.
The latter theory does have some slight holes to it. The first hole being that Remo also sees the same things and he has no idea about it. Then again, Mark has his almost accident, but he doesn’t seem to be getting any images. I do feel the film probably should have been a bit more consistent here, but it could be to avoid being repetitive as well.
Something I really did have an issue with was the reveal and pretty much most of the third. I didn’t like where they took it. I think this film would be much stronger if they decided to continue on where Bill is losing control. We get that great bar fight sequence, I would have liked to see the arm causing him to take it a step farther where he either kills someone or comes close. What we get instead kind of changes the whole tone of the film. The ending was a bit anticlimactic as well. It does build tension early on; I just think that it loses it with the tonal shift.
One last thing to cover before moving away from the story is I like the concept borrowed from Frankenstein. The idea of putting the three men back together with a body part borrowed from elsewhere is a bit of that. What happens later in the film though is definitely referencing this classic story as well.
I’ll next move to the acting of the film, which I thought was pretty solid across the board. Fahey I thought was solid as the main character. He really has a good life and it gets turned upside down from his accident. What I really like about this is that we see his descent into madness by the images he is seeing and that his wife is getting fed up with him. She doesn’t really believe what he is saying. Duncan is also good here. I really like the change in her character. She seems like she genuinely wants to help him, but when he wants to remove the arm, she has a darker side with faced with ending her experiment. I dug that aspect. Delaney was solid in her role. She is also quite attractive. It was nice to see to see cameos from Zakes Mokae, Dourif and Ben-Victor. The rest of the cast definitely rounded out the film for what was needed.
Something I’ve been really surprised with these movies are the use of practical effects. We get that here and I think what we get look good. There are quite a few gunshots that look pretty realistic to me. I did have some slight issues with how easy the film makes it seem like to rip a limb from someone, but I’ll let it slide. They are pretty brutal to be honest and I dug it. I do think the film is shot very well, so that is also a plus.
Now with that said, this film is quite intriguing. I really like the idea and concept for it. I even like the idea it is exploring. There’s a good set up, but I did have some issues with the shift in the third act. I actually think it ruins the tension the rest of the film had been building up and the ending was a letdown. The acting though was really solid and the effects were done practically, which was good. The soundtrack of the film really didn’t stand out to me, but it also didn’t really hurt it. Overall I’d say this is an above average film. If it sounds good, I’d definitely recommend it.
My Rating: 7 out of 10