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  Body Parts Transplant Terror
Year: 1991
Director: Eric Red
Stars: Jeff Fahey, Lindsay Duncan, Kim Delaney, Zakes Mokae, Brad Dourif, John Walsh, Paul Ben-Victor, Peter Murnik, Nathaniel Moreau, Sarah Campbell, Andy Humphrey, Lindsay Merrithew, James Kidnie, Arlene Duncan, Allan Price, Hal Eisen, Peter MacNeill
Genre: Horror, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Bill Chrushank (Jeff Fahey) is a criminal psychologist whose job is getting him down, as he is confronted with a killer on Death Row who is plainly guilty but would be able to live if Chrushank were able to prove he was insane and therefore not responsible for his actions. Other than that, the shrink has a happy home life with his wife Karen (Kim Delaney) and two kids, and considers himself a stable kind of guy, but all that is about to come crashing down when he is driving to work on the highway and notices a car in front is having difficulties. Suddenly, there is a collision, and as he was not wearing his seatbelt, he is sent straight through the windscreen and onto the tarmac...

Body Parts was one of those transplant movies where getting someone else's, well, body part can spell at the least a change in personality, and at most a spree of murderous carnage, something that probably would not happen in real life. It's true enough that some transplant recipients can adopt a trait, usually a preference, that their donor had when they were alive, but that doesn't happen too often, and if you were given the arm of a criminal, as Chrushank was here, it is extremely unlikely that it would prompt you to turn to wrongdoing yourself. According to the movies, on the other hand (so to speak), there's almost no way you can avoid such a violent reaction occurring.

For the first hour of Body Parts, it seemed to be taking this whole transplant business as seriously as you might have expected a TV drama to, with only the occasional lapse into bad taste or unintentional humour. The director was Eric Red, who will always be the man who wrote cult classic The Hitcher, one of the brightest horror-thriller hybrids of the nineteen-eighties, and was his stock in trade, adopting thriller frameworks to apply to over the top scenes of shock. It was assuredly what he concocted here, but those first two acts might wrongfoot you into believing there was a sincere motive for the drama, as Fahey emoted when his new limb gave him nightmares and troubled thoughts.

Determined to find out why, he gets his new hand fingerprinted and discovers - quelle horreur! - that the donor was in fact a bloodthirsty maniac with a list of convictions as long as your... yeah, arm. He also gets the addresses of the other two recipients, one who now has the murderer's legs, and Brad Dourif who has the other arm. Dourif played an artist who has found a new lease of creative life as he paints canvases that he is unaware depict the killings of the maniac, but they are making him a lot of money, so he is not complaining. Again, this was all oddly low key aside from the odd scene where, say, the leg person finds his pins trying to accelerate at a stop light while driving, but nothing to indicate this was going to venture quite as way over the top into the realms of the preposterous.

Yet that was precisely what it did, and as a result it was a lot more entertaining in the final half hour than it had been before. Pay close attention to the operation sequence, where in no way lunatic scientist Lindsay Duncan made sure to remove the head of the donor body, and you would have a strong hint as to where this was going. If you're a vintage chiller buff, then you will have seen Peter Lorre in Mad Love which was based on The Hands of Orlac, the classic possessed transplant text which had been adapted in various way down the years, and Body Parts was more or less a version of that creaky yarn, but it had something Lorre did not have: a car chase between two parallel vehicles where the villain had handcuffed himself to the passenger in the other car (!). This should offer a glimpse of the balls-out madness in store for you should you stick out the scenes of Chrushank hitting his kids or fretting to detective Zakes Mokae, it was hilariously nutty and bumped the film up the enjoyment scale for those of us who appreciate the ridiculous. Bad timing (concurrent with the Jeffrey Dahmer case breaking) foiled it at the box office, but it has become a cult effort since. Music by Loek Dikker.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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