Paramount // 1991 // 88 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // November 5th, 2004
A medical miracle has become a murderous nightmare!
Bill Chrushank (Jeff Fahey, The Lawnmower Man) seems to have it all: a fulfilling job as a criminal psychologist, a loving wife, Karen (Kim Delaney, TV's N.Y.P.D. Blue), two darling children, and the arm of a convicted serial killer grafted to his body! Say what? Yes, after Bill is caught in a tragic auto accident and loses an arm, brilliant Dr. Agatha Webb (Lindsey Duncan) performs a miracle operation to take a donor's arm and attach it to Bill's body. Bill's new arm is good as new, aside of a few kinks: stitch scarring, a bit of mismatching hair...and an arm that wants to beat the snot out of everyone it comes into contact with! Say what?!? Yes, Bill's arm used to belong to a killer whose spirit seems to be lodged in the nails, bone, and muscle of Bill's new appendage. When Bill decides to probe even deeper into the mystery of his new arm he finds horrors and secrets that may unravel his family, his mind...and maybe even his new limb.
Body Parts is a movie that moves at a snail's pace. It takes its sweet-ass time to get to the gruesome ending, and by the time it finally got there, I was half-asleep. Here is a movie with all the excitement of wheat bread, and it's far less filling. What should have been an updated Frankenstein-like tale turns out to be a movie that stretches the boundaries of tedium. I really wanted to like Body Parts. I can't say that about every movie, but there are a few that I pop in with an initial desire to enjoy. A murderer's possessed arm grafted onto the body of an innocent man? Now, that sounds like a fun little horror movie, doesn't it? And yet somehow Body Parts -- and director Eric Red (who would go on to make the equally silly werewolf cheapie Bad Moon) -- are able to suck the life out of this movie in opening first scenes. Whenever a movie clocks in at under an hour and a half and still feels long, your movie is officially a dud.
Jeff Fahey is an actor I've never warmed to. It's not that I dislike the guy -- he's just very, very bland (studio execs disagree, since he's got nearly 100 movies under his belt). Fahey walks around the movie looking tired and sweating a lot, as if the arm weighs around six hundred pounds. Kim Delaney -- an actress who'd find far better work next to Dennis Franz's ass on TV a few years later -- complements Fahey by also looking tired and worried. If ever there was a movie that needed Prozac, Body Parts is it. The plot concerns Fahey's character trying to piece together where his missing arm came from, and why it's acting so strange, and you get no bonus points for guessing where his inquisitiveness leads him. Along the way we're treated to a few mildly entertaining surprises, including the always-entertaining Brad Dourif (Graveyard Shift) as a fellow patient sporting Fahey's matching arm. However, the loony Dourif is the only bright spot in the film -- the ending, while requisitely gross, is too little, too late. If for some reason you're forced to sit through this film, I suggest saving yourself a good hour and just fast-forward to the good stuff. Body Parts could have used its own transfusion -- one where the screenplay is replaced by a better, scarier plot and better pacing.
Body Parts is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture here looks good, but not great. Most of the colors here are well rendered and bright, though there is a slight dullness in the picture at times (no doubt considering its age and budget). The black levels are solid and dark without any grayness. Edge enhancement is absent, as well as most dirt and defects. I can't say that this is a stunning transfer, though fans of the film will be thrilled to get Body Parts in its original aspect ratio.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. Much like the video presentation, there isn't much to say about this 5.1 mix -- it does the job that's needed, and little else. Generally this is a front heavy mix without much in the way of surround sounds, though a few do creep in thanks to a creepy music score and some ambient noises. Otherwise, this soundtrack works well with the film it's supporting. Also included on this disc are English subtitles, as well as a Dolby 2.0 Sound mix in English and a French Stereo track.
For once I won't complain about a lack of extra features -- since I wasn't crazy about this movie, I'm not disappointed that there isn't a single feature on this bare bones disc.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 1991
MPAA Rating: Rated R