Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Body Puzzle (1992)

When you get down to it, Lamberto Bava hasn't had the career dear old dad did. Sure, he directed the classic "Demons", as well as the fun Giallo films "Macabre" and "Delirium", but apart from that? There was the middling sequel "Demons 2", the okay but nothing great "A Blade in the Dark", an ill-advised remake of "Black Sunday" and well, the less said about "Devil Fish", the better. With 1992's "Body Puzzle", he returned to the Giallo world, with the end result being a mixed bag of sorts.

Tracy (Joanna Pacula) is having a hard time: she lost her husband in a motorcycle accident. To make things worse, someone is mailing body parts to her-someone who has a connection to her late husband, and has dug his body from the grave. Can handsome detective Mike Livet (Tomas Arana) solve this case, or is there more to him than we know?

There are a few pluses in "Body Puzzle", one in which is the way it plays with conventions. While most Giallo films make the audience wait to learn the identity of the killer from the get go, with the real mystery being the killer's connection to Tracy's dead husband. It also lovingly plays with some pretty fucked up subject matter (necrophilia) and there are moments that are genuinely atmospheric, at times echoing themes and visuals that wouldn't feel out of place in a classic title in it's sub-genre.

Unfortunately, it's just that-several moments. With the exception of the first murder sequence, the movie doesn't attain much interest in that department. Sure, the kills are bloody, but they aren't all that interesting either. It also doesn't help that even in the field of Italian horror, this doesn't make a whole lot of sense. This is the kind of movie where people behave in the dumbest ways imaginable, and people are killed without anyone noticing it until it's too late. A perfect example of this is a lifeguard whose murdered in broad daylight, and nobody expects anything-not to mention that there doesn't seem to be any evidence, even though the guy was violently slaughtered. That's just pure laziness.

Man, they don't pay us enough for this I tell ya what

This brings me to my last complaint: for a movie in a sub-genre that usually relies on heavy style, this is a rather sedate feeling movie. There's little of the flair that Bava showed in "Demons" or "Macabre" here, just flat direction and only a few inspired directorial moments in a film that offers no substance. Watching this, I felt like I was viewing any other Italian horror film from this period. By the 90's, the Italian film business was hurting, and you could tell with most of the output. With the exception of Dario Argento and Michael Soavi, there weren't any worthwhile titles anymore. Granted, this isn't as bad as say, "Black Demons" or Argento's "Phantom of the Opera", but there's little here to warrant much interest. It's just another mediocre genre film in a period that wasn't good or it's industry or genre.

Rating: 4.5/10

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