I found this a curious one as I have no recollection of its release despite it being thirty years old this year and in 1991, I was probably at the height of my cinema activity. It may in part be due to that it got a minimum release in the UK or that it simply didn’t hit my radar. Regardless it has Jeff Fahey as its lead, a year prior to his role as Jobe Smith in The Lawnmower Man.
In Body Parts, Fahey plays a criminal psychologist, Bill Crushank, who works closely with convicted killers in prison. On his way home from work he is suddenly involved in a horrific car accident and loses his arm. Thanks to modern science though, he is granted the chance for experimental transplant surgery and is given a new arm, thanks to Dr. Agatha Webb (Lindsay Duncan), a leader in her field.
All seems well, as Bill adjusts to his new appendage at home with his family, but there is something sinister afoot when he starts to have aggressive episodes that alter his mind and visions that affect him.
When he learns that his arm used to belong to notorious serial killer, Charley Fletcher, he then discovers that more body parts were donated in this experiment. Another arm was donated to an artist, Remo (Brad Dourif), who finds his talent harnessed further since the operation but again, a level of darkness lay within.
The other person who gains from the transplant is Mark, (Peter Murnik) who receives both of Fletcher’s legs.
Slowly however, Bill realises that there is something foul at play, and despite trying to warn both Mark and Remy, they are soon picked off in a brutal way, their new body parts removed.
Body Parts struggles under the hammy delivery and at times feels more like a tv movie, during a time when this was a bad thing. It does tap into the whole mad doctor thing nicely though and this is largely due to Duncan’s performance. And even though it contains some shock moments, the reveal is a far-fetched resolution that falls heavily into cheeseville and little substance is on show.
It was good to see a strong cast in Fahey, Duncan and the always reliable Dourif, but it’s not enough to save it from a essentially a bland script. It would have been nice if the mania was heightened to elevate the prosperous nature of the narrative and be bold in its delivery.
What is probably more shocking however is that the film was released at the time that Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment was raided and numerous body parts were discovered. This had a significant impact on the movie’s distribution and several ads for the movie had to be pulled as a result.
- Saul Muerte