Murder-Set-Pieces (2004) review
Synopsis: The film follows a wealthy immigrant serial killer: a German photographer, who leads a double life: by day he shoots erotic photos. By night, he rapes, tortures, and murders prostitutes.
Warning: This review will be almost completely negative. Anyone who likes this movie and doesn’t want to read a very harsh critique of this “film” should turn back now. It only gets worse from here.
I picked this movie up recently from eBay as part of my search for rare, out of print, and disturbing films. I’ve read many things positive about this film (more on that later), so I decided to give it a go. I picked it up for $3, not bad for an OOP horror movie. Well, for any other movie. $3 was entirely too much for this movie. I want my money back.
The tagline for the movie on IMDB is “Prepare yourself for the first American NC-17 horror film.” However, according to the movie’s trivia section on IMDB, the film never received that rating. The only mentions that I could find about the film’s previous rating were from director Nick Palumbo himself (or people that sounded like Palumbo representatives). Another fun fact: apparently, in the lead-up to the film’s release, Palumbo, and his promoters were banned from pretty much every major horror message board for bashing other films, trolling and insulting users, and writing fake reviews for their own blurbs. In fact, from what I’ve seen in my own research, most of the positive “reviews” of the film come directly from the director or someone who is obviously a shill. Some reports I read actually stated that Palumbo threatened people on various boards, and actually called the police to get one of them shut down due to unsatisfactory reviews. Now, I can’t vouch for the veracity of all of these claims, but there are too many to be completely untrue, and from what I’ve read from the director’s actual correspondence, I tend to believe most, if not all, of these reports.
Now, this has nothing to do with the film itself, it just strikes me that if you have to lie about your film to sell it, that should tell you something. The film itself was awful on its own merits. The actors did not have much to work with: this film had one of the worst scripts I’ve ever seen in a film. The Photographer (the only name we’re given for the main character) would randomly scream things in German because of his Nazi ancestry. This is hardly explained, of course, as is most of the plot. One of the actresses in the film, Cerina Vincent, asked to have her part cut from the movie upon learning all of the details, which was, of course, was denied. To her credit, she, at least, tried to get out from under the wheels of this burning bus.
Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th) and Tony Todd (Candyman) were also in this movie (which gives me great hope that I can get them to come to my birthday party). Hodder is a Nazi, because of reasons, and is really more of a cameo than a character. Todd runs an adult bookstore, which the main character visits to look for “a real snuff film.” Which snuff film, in particular? Wonder upon wonders, its director Nick Palumbo’s previous effort, Nutbag! Of course, this is so “disturbingly real” that it’s a real snuff film. Seriously, what a lazy piece of writing and filmmaking. You decided to plug your other film inside this film, and sell it as a snuff film? Tony Todd then yells at The Photographer because he’s asking for a snuff film in an adult bookstore, that’s not something that someone would actually do. The killer then says “In my mind’s eye, I light fires in your cities.” This is a loose paraphrase of one of Charles Manson’s quotes, “In my mind’s eye my thoughts light fires in your cities,” which is much, much creepier. Of course, with writing this lazy, there’s no reason to expect that we’d get accurate quotes. Obviously, Hodder and Todd are fantastic actors and have had many classic characters in the horror movie pantheon. It’s clearly the writing that is at fault here, which again lays the blame at Palumbo’s feet.
And then enters legitimate footage from 9/11 – for no reason at all. Palumbo uses footage from the worst mass killing in US history to make his shitty film more controversial! Hey, Nick, that doesn’t make you edgy, that just makes you an asshole.
Let me also say, I can’t completely categorize the gore as bad or unimpressive. The SFX were done by August Underground veteran Fred Vogel, and from what I was able to see from the R-rated version, they weren’t bad. I’m sure they would’ve been better in the unrated version, so I’ll give him a pass. His films were much more realistic, though. Vogel’s talents, as well as everyone else’s, are wasted on this film. It’s a shame, really.