Eric Red’s 1991 film Body Parts is a Frankensteinian thriller about serial killers that had a particularly turbulent release; just a week before it was set to premiere, Jeffrey Dahmer was captured, and despite the fact that the filmmakers could have no indication of this development, it certainly could seem within context to be in poor taste (hey, that’s our other site!). The film never did recoup its $10 million budget, but its box office performance isn’t quite indicative of its quality. The film, starring Jeff Fahey as criminal psychologist Bill Crushank, follows Crushank’s predicament after he receives an arm transplant from a death row inmate after a catastrophic car accident severs his own arm. Like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the movie focuses on the dangers of exploring the boundaries of scientific experimentation and the effects those experiments have on the grafted recipients.
Body Parts is a particularly serious and psychological affair throughout its first half, with a bit of philosophy thrown into the mix. Crushank is even before his accident left pondering his own abilities to “cure” patients of their criminal reflexes, something that he gets closer to when he receives his transplanted arm; since he’s given a death row inmate’s body part, his mind immediately begins to take a darker turn, even seeing the murders that criminal committed in his mind. Red looks to pick apart the voluntary and involuntary psychology behind crime, with Fahey even pronouncing his own thesis on evil: maybe it lives in the skin.
The second half of the film gets a lot hokier, though, especially after adding two more people (Brad Dourif and Peter Murnik) as other recipients of inmate Charley Fletcher’s (John Walsh) limbs. A barroom brawl is the film’s biggest jumping-the-shark moment, but the latter portion of the film veers more into action territory and feels a little tonally shifted from its start. That’s not to say that Red’s directorial divergence is bad, just a little jarring; the film still remains highly entertaining until the end when scientist and criminal get their comeuppance in a nice twist that reminds of Lovecraftian tales and Re-Animator influences.
Body Parts riffs on a number of highly influential ideas before it but it’s an effective new story all the same, aided by some great performances from Fahey and Dourif. While it tends to end on a cheesier action note with an extremely abrupt final scene, viewers should enjoy this take on Frankenstein from head to toe.
Scream Factory has released Body Parts on Blu-ray with an HD transfer, though their press release does not state that this is a new scan or from what sources it is taken. It appears that this is from a prior HD transfer done by Paramount based on the film’s availability in HD from online streaming sources. The quality is quite good, with a medium grain scale that remains unobstructing throughout. Depth and tone is well-maintained though there is the occasional softness in close-ups. The film isn’t particularly vibrant but color timing has been preserved well. Dirt, debris, and damage is not apparent. In motion, Body Parts looks quite good.
Audio options include a DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 track. Both are of good quality with no volume drops or audible hiss issues. English subtitles are also included.
Extras include four new interviews. A 52-minute interview with Eric Red provides the bulk of the background information about the film, and he goes over everything from his earlier films to the production on Body Parts and the reasoning behind the film’s two cut scenes. He also provides a new audio commentary as well. A second interview talks with actor Paul-Ben Victor in a brief 14 minute discussion about his appearance as a death row inmate Crushank has been following. Actor Peter Murnik discusses how cool it was to do a slam dunk on film with his “new” legs in a 17 minute interview, and finally editor Anthony Redman describes cutting the film and how he feels the producers failed to market Body Parts as well as they should have.
Also included are the two cut gore scenes. Eric Red provides commentary for these scenes as well, describing that it is a myth that they were cut due to an early NC-17 rating and the only reason they were cut was because producers asked for it. Ultimately these add about 10 minutes of gore to scenes that already occur in the film including the first accident scene and then the operation. Even though these aren’t inserted back into the film (probably due to the workprint quality), it’s nice to have them accessible on this disc.
Theatrical trailer, TV spots, and a still gallery are also included. There is also slightly different reversible cover artwork.
NEW Audio Commentary With Director Eric Red
NEWI Dare You To Read The Script – An Interview With Director Eric Red (HD; 52:15)
NEW Something Unstoppable – An Interview With Actor Paul Ben-Victor (HD; 13:40)
NEW Molded For Cinema – An Interview With Actor Peter Murnik (HD; 17:14)
NEW That One Hurt – An Interview With Editor Anthony Redman (HD; 22:32)
Deleted Gore Footage With Optional Commentary With Director Eric Red (unrestored HD; 10:03)
Trailers (unrestored HD; 4:07)
Still Gallery (no chapter breaks; 2:44)
Body Parts is a successful play on Frankenstein with a strong psychological first half that veers into chaos later on. Scream Factory has released a great Blu-ray with a nice HD transfer and an inclusion of the original gore effects cut from the film.