M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Four of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2013 and going through September 30, 2014. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!

How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2013 and September 30, 2014 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number—31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on July 5, 2014. Available on digital download, On Demand, and DVD/Blu-ray!

PIECES OF TALENT (2014)

Directed by Joe Stauffer
Written by Joe Stauffer & David Long
Starring David Long, Kristi Ray, Taylor Kowalski, Barbara Weetman, Jon Stafford, Nate Panning, Joy Merrow, John Marchioni, Shaun O’Rourke
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here

At face value, PIECES OF TALENT is your typical SAW-like stalker film with an obsessive killer who likes to videotape his victiims and killing any obstacle between him and the object of his obsession. PIECES OF TALENT’s story isn’t necessarily new or groundbreaking, but sometimes the simplest of stories make for the most interesting if shown through a new and original lens. In this case, that particular lens means the stunning eye of director Joe Stauffer and the star-making performance by David Long who plays a serial killer and madman named…David Long.

PIECES OF TALENT is one of the most breathtaking and awe-inspiring looking films I’ve seen in ages. The compositions set up in this film, somehow managing to capture the beauty in some very despicable, filthy, and diabolical scenes, took my breath away and director Joe Stauffer deserves credit where credit’s due for filling this entire film with all sorts of scenes that could be set up conventionally, but instead seem to be painstakingly placed to make the scene memorable and iconic, almost like a still-life painting. There is one scene where one of David Long’s victims drops from exhaustion just before making it to an open highway and the killer lounges with the victim playfully is something born from a nightmare but still has an aesthetic that is simply breathtaking. PIECES OF TALENT is filled with these types of nightmarish snapshots, confusing the eye to see beauty where horror is taking place.

The elaborate torture and hunting experiments we witness throughout this film are made more terrifying by the diabolical and devious performance by David Long. Though he hasn’t been in a lot of films, this is a film that, if seen by enough people, will make the actor a mega-star. Long struts around like a psychotic version of The Dude, acting mellow and cracking wise even while murderizing folks. Even though his lines are said with a smile, Long’s surfer boy attitude seems to shine through, and we can understand why Charlotte, the object of his desire, might actually be charmed by him. Though he’s far from the ideal human specimen, he exudes a confidence that makes you instantly like him even after we’ve seen him hack a person to bits with an axe on camera.

Kristi Ray, who plays Charlotte, does a great job here as well, showing both a soft and hardened side with equal believability. Ray conveys a life hard lived and is easy to follow as the protagonist and apple of David Long’s eye. While there are a lot of hard edges to this titty bar waitress, simple scenes of her serenely looking out over a calm lake give you the picture of a misplaced princess in a world of horror. But the spunkiness comes out again when Long shows his hand and again, its believable when she fights back against him with such fervor.

PIECES OF TALENT has tons of bloody scenes of torture and dismemberment. It’s not for the squeamish, as David Long’s camera rarely cuts away from any of the horrors he inflicts upon his victims, but the result isn’t as stomach-churning as one would expect since the images captured through the camera are often as beautiful as they are horrific. The few snippets we get to see inside David’s mind are unpleasant and terrifying, making Long’s happy-go-lucky exterior all the more frightening. PIECES OF TALENT is the perfect storm of a film. It’s a modern day version of MANIAC that doesn’t star Elijah Wood. Made from raw story elements that most will find familiar, I guarantee the way PIECES OF TALENT has a look and feel that is like nothing experienced before. Highly recommended.


THE 2013-2014 COUNTDOWN!


#11 – PIECES OF TALENT
#12 – CRAWL OR DIE
#13 – TUSK
#14 – THE BUTTERFLY ROOM
#15 – FOUND
#16 – PLUS ONE
#17 – AS ABOVE SO BELOW
#18 – WILLOW CREEK
#19 – MACABRE
#20 – GRAND PIANO
#21 – RIGOR MORTIS
#22 – ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE
#23 – THE MACHINE
#24 – DELIVERY: THE BEAST WITHIN
#25 – THE SACRAMENT
#26 – THE SEASONING HOUSE
#27 – THANATOMORPHOSE
#28 – DEVOURED
#29 – CONTRACTED
#30 – DISCOPATH
#31 – SATURDAY MORNING MYSTERY


M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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