Picks and Pans Review: Body Parts

updated 08/19/1991 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/19/1991 01:00AM

Jeff Fahey, Brad Dourif

Nobody who sees this medical horror film is going to be favorably disposed toward transplants for a while. It offers such a negative portrayal of recycling parts, in fact, that it could make you think twice about buying a rebuilt carburetor.

The plot recalls such films as The Beast with Five Fingers, Frankenstein and, who could forget, The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant. Fahey is a prison psychologist who loses an arm in a highway accident. He is given an immediate surgical transplant, but soon he starts experiencing strangely violent impulses. The arm turns out to have come from a freshly executed mass murderer, and the surgeon, it is clear, is operating the mad-scientist version of a chop shop.

Director Eric Red and cowriter Norman Snider, aware that they are not dealing with Chekhov here, keep things going in a cut-and-dried—make that cut and very bloody—fashion. Fahey is a serviceable tormented shrink, and the supporting performances are effectively diverting. Dourif, the most reliable wide-eyed crazy this side of Peter Loire, is an artist who got the executed murderer's other arm in a transplant; Peter Murnik has the fiend's legs. (No word on who got his spleen, but that guy is in real trouble.)

As long as Fahey is investigating the reasons for his nasty behavior, disbelief stays willingly suspended. The pace flags only on the rare occasions when he has to give a philosophical speech—for instance, "Does the arm have a soul of its own?" One is inspired to answer, "No, and the sole doesn't have an arm of its own either. Now get back to the slicing and dicing." (R)

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