Thursday, July 27, 2017

In short: Body Puzzle (1992)

Rich widow Tracy (Joanna Pacula) is having a bit of a hard time. Someone is sneaking around leaving her rather disturbing presents, things like a  human ear, a hand, or a “finger” (“it’s not a finger”), like a kitten gone bad. These body parts belong to the victims of a series of murders shaking the town. Apart from his habit concerning Tracy, the killer (François Montagut) likes to put a bit of Mussorgsky on his walkman while he’s working, so expect to hear the same bit of “Night on Bare Mountain” again and again and again.

Cop Michele (Tomas Arana) is on the case, yet despite the killer’s fixation on Tracy, he has a lot of trouble catching his man, or finding the bizarre secret behind the murders.

As a rule of thumb (there are of course obvious exceptions to this rule), the more time a giallo spends following a cop on a police procedural (but with everyone involved being pretty darn dumb) style investigation, the less enjoyable it becomes. Lamberto Bava’s Body Puzzle certainly is a pretty great example for this rule. But it goes even further to demonstrate it: while the scenes of the killer slashing his victims are generally entertaining enough (and sometimes even a little bloody), and those of Tracy being stalked by him are even downright suspenseful, whenever our hero Michele starts investigating – usually slowly and badly – the film turns into a void of utter boredom that suffers from the blandness of Michele, the general – there is one terrible gay stereotype which isn’t enjoyable but at least memorable – lack of distinction of the characters he interviews, and what looks like an inability by Bava to film these investigations in any interesting, stylish or even just economical manner.

Unfortunately, at least half of the film is taken up by Michele’s non-adventures, always slowing things down in the worst possible moment. This state of affairs is made even less interesting by the perfunctory romance between Tracy and our man Michele in scenes that feel so pointless and disinterested, I can’t help but ask myself if the producers strong-armed Bava into including them.

Of course, as this was made in the early 90s, long after the genre had faded away, it was certainly not easy for Bava to get a giallo made at all; going by the results, I’m just not sure it was worth his effort.

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