Not all is what it seems in this more modern Giallo flick from a master filmmaker. Looking as if it oozes sizzling sexy stuff, Body Puzzle rarely entertains and even has trouble maintaining interest along the way despite some fine performances and some brief moments of violence.
Tracy is being plagued by strange break ins and discovers the intruder is leaving behind body parts. This results in a weary detective Michele stepping in to investigate several murdered folk missing body parts. After a time the detective connects the dots and (spoiler) solves the body part puzzle.
Body Puzzle jumps before it can walk in the opening 5 minutes with a wild motorcycle chase through a storm accompanied by charged piano playing and we are met by a lunatic who sits perfectly in a Giallo nightmare. Once the scene is over, abandon hope for any returning to the pace or energy for these few minutes.
The heavy saxophone number on the soundtrack is something that would normally feature on a late night movie channel and draws upon certain expectations. It’s hard to judge a stereotype, however, Body Puzzle looks like it might contain more erotic scenes than it does, in fact I think there is one moment of lusty naughtiness and the 18 rating more likely comes from the graphic nature of the (sometimes bloodless) kills.
There are a number of poor decisions taken in the film. The most notable was the murder in the swimming pool. Generally when someone is stabbed, they bleed. Whilst I have not put this to the test, I think it sensible to conclude that stabbing results in bloodletting. However, one victim manages to keep their blood from leaking out underwater whilst being brutally stabbed several times. This could have been cheated, it doesn’t help that the body of the victim is then hoisted out of clean pool water revealing the extent of the wounds, and not a droplet of blood in sight.
Outside of this the kills are quite straightforward and their frequency does keep the film moving to see the next ill fated victim and in what way the killer will do his business. A moment in a park with a child gives the film an opportunity to do what the genre had been notorious for back in the 70’s and 80’s, however, Bava shows restraint and keeps the wickedness focused on the adults.
Body Puzzle overarching storyline is a little humdrum, however, the performances from Tracy and Michele are above this. They keep things going with believable dedication. However, the underlying love story between the two becomes quite hard to believe. Not a lot of effort is written in to believably bring these two together. There is little discussion between the two about anything non case related and Tracy’s trauma turns off and on like a tap. I would say that following the case, Tracy would likely have PTSD and good reason to take a case against Michele for exploiting her whilst she was vulnerable. But then this was a 90’s thriller.
I honestly had high hopes for this as the film opened. The opening 5 minutes are intense and exciting, however, once done we film slows to a deathly pace. It doesn’t sound flattering but the best and most suave moment of Body Puzzle is the last shot and line of dialogue. A beautifully measured line uttered by Michele that summaries the journey of the leading detective as he walks away. Despite not enjoying the film that much, I would be on board for another tale involving Michele and it’s entirely due to this final moment and the follow-up camera movement.
I did stay to the end of the credits to see if it said Michele will return in Body Puzzle II: Ker-Plunk. It didn’t.
88 Films has released a Blu Ray recently and the film looks terrific. There isn’t too much in the way of extras, those hoping for alternate ending and deleted scenes to add more to the so-so story will be disappointed.