Most people read scientific journals to be in awe of the future that awaits us with groundbreaking medical procedures. A horror writer takes that bright promise of tomorrow and envisions the most scary thing that can happen. They know there’s a bigger audience for their warped view of a revolutionary treatment than the medical magazine. Think of how many people bought Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein novel and later bought tickets to the movie when Boris Karloff came alive? Choice Cuts by Thomas Narcejac and Pierre Boileau was written in 1965 after surgeons in Ecuador tried the first hand transplant. It was unsuccessful. The novel was turned into the movie Body Parts in 1991 when there was a lot of buzz about external organ transplants. The film easily let audience know what could go wrong if patients didn’t know more about the donor than blood type.
Bill Chrushank (Lost‘s Jeff Fahey) is having a good life. He’s married to Karen (NYPD Blue‘s Kim Delaney) with a kid and a great house. He’s a psychologist working at university that meeting with prisoners. The only thing he could improve is his car. One afternoon while driving, the car has an issue and Bill finds himself in the emergency room. Things aren’t looking good for Bill since his arm is missing. Dr. Agatha Webb (The Reflecting Skin‘s Lindsay Duncan) tells Karen they can attach the arm of a recently deceased man to Bill, but they have to act fast. Karen signs the waiver and Bill gets wheeled into the operating room. The drowsy Bill sense something is weird since the donor is surrounded by police with guns that don’t leave the room until the donor body is beheaded. Bill has enough troubles adjusting to his new limb as he heals. He has horrible dreams that he’s killing people. During his waking time, he senses the arm has a mind of its own. During a session with a prisoner (The Wire‘s Paul Ben-Victor), Bill learns the meaning of a tattoo on the new arm. He visits with a pal at the police department to get fingerprints taken of his new hand. Turns out the former user of the arm was a not a nice guy. He meets an artist who has the other arm (The Lord of the Rings‘ Brad Dourif). He recognizes the artist’s recent paintings as the faces of the donor’s victims. The artist has no issue since he’s finally getting publicity and selling his work. He isn’t concerned. Same with Mark Draper (Hard Rain‘s Peter Murnik) who has two new legs from the donor. But Bill fears the arm is taking over his body. Dr. Webb tells him he’s just having issues from the surgery and the arm won’t take him over. But does she really understand?
Body Parts is a great thrill ride from the early ’90s. The movie goes at a pretty good pace without things getting bogged down. Over the course of the 88 minutes, there’s mystery, horror, science fiction, supernatural and limb ripping action. And there’s little confusion as to what you’re seeing. Detective Sawchuck (The Serpent and the Rainbow‘s Zakes Mokae) is a bit confused in the middle of this whirlwind. But after you hit play, you’ll be you’ll be screaming more than going “huh?”
Body Parts didn’t do too well when it was released. The fact that it came out as the same time as Jeffrey Dahmer was busted made it a hard sell. Luckily the film has built up a bit of a following thanks to home video. This is a fun yet grotesque film that should be double featured with Robocop for a night of what can go wrong with cutting edge transplant science.
The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the details in the hospital and nasty car wreck. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD MA Surround to get you into the operating room There’s also a 2.0 DTS-HD MA Stereo of the original theatrical release. The movie is subtitled.
Audio Commentary with Eric Red has the director dig deep into the film.
Interview with Eric Red (52:15) goes deep into his career. He started as a horror fan. He tells a great story about his grandmother taking him to a theater that years later would run Body Parts. Grandma saw the film by herself. Red started off in screenwriting with Near Dark, The Hitcher and Blue Steel before getting to direct.
Interview with Anthony Redman (22:32) as he recounts the editor got his big break thanks to a connection at Universal. His interview was interrupted by the right person. After working with Roger Corman. He ends up cutting Kolchak: The Nightstalker, Quark and The Incredible Shrinking Woman. Then to make his career cooler, he edited Fear City, King of New York, Dangerous Game, Body Snatchers and Bad Lieutenant for Abel Ferrara. He even claims he’s been in the same room with Abel and the mysterious Nicholas St. John. Redman is one of those people you want to be stuck next to on a cross country plane trip. He does get around to Body Parts. He speaks of studio wanting cuts made. If you go to film school, buy this Blu-ray for Redman’s talk because it’ll be the best film lecture you’ll enjoy all semester. Does Anthony Redman have a podcast?
Interview with Paul Ben-Victor (13:40) has him talk about making his own drumset as a kid. He talks about going from New York to Los Angeles when he got serious about acting over music. He’s not sure how he got the role, but he talks of working with Eric Red.
Interview with Peter Murnik (17:14) catches up with the actor who had the killer’s legs. He talks of dealing with the rejection of living in Los Angeles. Murnik was in Seinfeld‘s “The Trip” episodes. His Lt. Martel busts Kramer for being a serial killer.
Deleted Footage (10:03) gives us two scenes that Paramount snipped before release in work print form. See the glory of Anthony Redman’s editing work. The commentary from Red explains the MPAA had already given the film an R-rated so the edit was not to keep it from getting an NC-17. Fahey watching his arm get run over by a truck robbed him of a great emotional moment.
Trailers (4:07) has Bill’s wreck and amazing surgery. This includes the theatrical trailer and three TV spots. It started Friday, August 2 at theaters everywhere!
Image Gallery (2:44) includes press photos and poster art. Don’t watch this before the film.
Scream Factory presents Body Parts. Directed by: Eric Red. Screenplay by: Eric Red & Norman Snider. Starring: Jeff Fahey, Kim Delaney, Brad Dourif & Zakes Mokae. Rated: R Rated. Running Time: 88 minutes. Released: January 28, 2020.
Tags: Body Parts, Brad Dourif, NYPD Blue, Scream Factory