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Body Parts (1991)
A patchwork of the various screen versions of that old chestnut The
Hands of Orlac, rather disorienting in its mixture of supposedly
up-to-the-minute surgery with incredibly antiquated plot devices. Jeff
Fahey loses his arm in a car crash, but brilliant experimental surgeon
Lindsay Duncan is able to replace it with one sawn off a living donor.
The first hour plays like an intense psychological drama as Fahey becomes
disturbed by his arm's tendency to violent acts, and learns that it
comes from an executed mass murderer. He makes contact with other subjects
of the Duncan treatment, an artist (Brad Dourif) who has received the
killer's other arm and transformed from journeyman to mad genius and
a basketball player whose new legs tend to hit the accelerator pedal
in heavy traffic. Failing to establish much of a mood of dread and unease,
the film suddenly turns into an outrageous mad science melodrama with
the murderer showing up with his head sewn back on to reclaim his missing
pieces, and Duncan trying to keep a straight face with leftover Bela
Lugosi dialogue about the comparative unimportance of a few little atrocities
when weighed against her great work. Wild, but silly and not very scary.
First published in Empire.
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