Leave it to the French lyric imagination to make compulsive homicidal erotomania sound romantic. Leave it to Zombie Joe's Underground to make Pieces, writer-director Adam Neubauer's grisly evening of amour fou, a venomous Valentine to broken hearts everywhere.
Pieces begins with a roar of anguish – well, call it an extended blackout of blubbering – by the disconsolate and supremely self-absorbed John (the capable Alex Walters), who has fallen to pieces after being dumped by a girlfriend whom he considers the embodiment of physical perfection.
His unpredictable state of mind brings together a concerned clique of incestuously close, backbiting friends in a round-the-clock vigil, which soon stresses the subterranean fault lines of petty jealousies and unspoken desires, and just as quickly tears the group to pieces, albeit in a far less figurative way.
Though the script rarely strays from the familiar surfaces of its genre, Neubauer delivers more than a few Zombie Joe – worthy stage coups for what clocks in as a funny and affectionate homage to the blackly comic, bucket-of-blood drive-in horrors of vintage Roger Corman.
Zombie Joe's Underground, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; through March 21. (818) 202-4120, zombiejoes.com.
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