Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Jigsaw Murders

Concorde actually got this crime cheapie into a few theaters. Star Chad Everett even plugged it and another Roger Corman production, HEROES STAND ALONE, on a segment of SUPER PASSWORD, though not using the current titles.

The film needed all the help it could get, even from daytime television audiences, because THE JIGSAW MURDERS is an uninspiring crime drama with laughable police procedure, unconvincing performances, and slackly directed action. Considering its subject matter, director Jag Mundhra (NIGHT EYES) would have been better off including more sleazy content, which would have been both appropriate and more entertaining.

Everett, a big shot on MEDICAL CENTER more than a decade earlier, is Joe DaVonzo, a drunken L.A. homicide detective estranged from his model daughter Kathy (BLAME IT ON RIO’s Michelle Johnson) because he disapproves of the nudie photos in her portfolio. He and his rookie partner Elliot Greenfield (soap star Michael Sabatino) are assigned a case involving a Jane Doe (played in photographs by Michelle Bauer) whose assorted body parts are popping up around town. With very little mystery to hook the audience, the cops soon discover her identity, which leads them to her suspected killer, a pervy photographer named Ace Mosley (Eli Rich). The killer’s motive and psychological profile are pretty shaky in Allen Ury’s screenplay, which concentrates on DaVonzo’s obsession with putting Mosley away and his return to the bottom of a bottle when his incompetence allows the psycho to go free.

Everett may have considered THE JIGSAW MURDERS a comeback vehicle, but the flimsy story lets him down. One can see why the veteran leading man would have been attracted to the role, which allows him to cry, crack jokes, act drunk, play domestic drama, and be a cool action star. Never a versatile performer, Everett comes off better than Rich (LOCK UP), whose over-the-top line readings indicate why his career never took off. Jag Mundhra’s sledgehammer direction reaches its peak with a hilariously overwrought crosscutting between a worked-up Everett, drinking and tossing his whiskey glass through his television screen, and Rich masturbating to slides of Michelle Bauer.

Besides Yaphet Kotto’s one day’s work as a jovial coroner who, yes, eats on the job and a brief bit by Brinke Stevens (SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE) as a nude model, THE JIGSAW MURDERS presents little of interest. Not even jigsaw “murders,” as the damn movie only gives us one (the film was shot under the title JIGSAW). Not a great year for Chad Everett, as HEROES STAND ALONE received as little attention as THE JIGSAW MURDERS, if not less, and his ABC pilot, THUNDERBOAT ROW, failed to get picked up by the network.

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