Following in your father's footsteps can often be a demanding experience. Just ask Lamberto Bava, son of the late Mario Bava. After working as assistant to his father, Lamberto became a director, hoping to kick start a new golden age of Italian horror cinema.
Body Puzzle begins with a road accident which turns a promising concert pianist into a serial killer. This highly disturbed individual removes body parts from his victims and places them inside the home of attractive widow Tracy Grant (Pacula), using a front door key to gain access. Enter one disheveled cop (Arana) who neglects to call a locksmith, prefering to install 24 hour protection for his charge by way of three equally inept officers. While the killer continues his macabre home delivery service, Tracy and her (by now) new lover wearily proceed to a point in the script that's alluded to on the back cover of Madacy's Region 1 DVD. Yes, it's a "Startling conclusion that will keep you on the edge of your seat". Well, assuming your backside has actually strayed that far (doubtful), you may well find this plot twist to be surprising.... at least for about 3 seconds. On the surface, it's very much a case of gross police incompetence, though the main culprits for this laughable revelation reside on the other side of the camera.
An unintentional black comedy is how I'd describe this film, though Lamberto Bava clearly had his sights set on the American market, providing a cliche-infested band of stock characters: gorgeous widow falls for rough and ready cop; a pathologist who lunchs while discussing his work, and a volatile police chief ("I kiss ass one day, I kick ass the next".) who indulges his 'star player'. Throw in an MTV-style love scene, pages of virtually unlistenable dialogue and the priceless moment when Grant mistakes a severed organ for a finger and you have a movie tailor made for audiences that were still several years away from acclaiming Wes Craven's godawful Scream trilogy.
To be fair, Bava does occasionally demonstrate he's more than capable of delivering white hot suspense scenes: a murder in a toilet cubicle and a gripping set piece involving a class room of blind children shows he can quicken pulses when the mood takes him. Overall, though, it's a waste of the man's undoubted talent, and a long way from the promise shown in such films as A Blade in the Dark, Macabre and the excellent Delirium (aka Photos Of Joy).
Madacy's DVD makes light of its budget price tag to deliver good A/V quality. Although some of the night scenes lack detail, picture quality is usually sharp and colourful,particularly during interior scenes: check out Pacula's red dressing gown, and the cool aqua blue of the indoor pool. Sadly, none of the characters grow in stature from this superior home video incarnation, though Euro buffs will surely appreciate brief appearances by Erica Blanc and John Morghen.
Italian director/producer and son of legendary horror auteur Mario Bava. Began working as an assistant to his father on productions such as Planet of the Vampires and Baron Blood, and co-wrote Mario's final film Shock. Made his directing debut in 1980 with the effective chiller Macabre, which were followed by exploitation favourites A Blade in the Dark, Blastfighter, Delirium and two gore-laden Demons movies, both produced by Dario Argento. Bava's subsequent work has largely been for Italian TV, his last theatrical film being 1991's duff Body Puzzle.