HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Gemini Man
End of the Century
If Beale Street Could Talk
Raining in the Mountain
Day Shall Come, The
Scandal
Buzzard
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, A
Sons of Denmark
Light of My Life
Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The
Jerky Boys, The
Chambre en Ville, Une
Joker
Relaxer
Mustang, The
Baie des Anges, La
Ready or Not
Seven Days in May
Bliss
Hollywood Shuffle
Uncut Gems
Wilt
Daniel Isn't Real
Presidio, The
Curvature
Puzzle
Farewell, The
Challenge of the Tiger
Ad Astra
Winslow Boy, The
Pain and Glory
Judgment at Nuremberg
Rambo: Last Blood
Sansho the Bailiff
Iron Fury
Ride in the Whirlwind
Deathstalker II
Cloak and Dagger
   
 
Newest Articles
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
   
 
  Puzzle Gone to piecesBuy this film here.
Year: 1974
Director: Duccio Tessari
Stars: Senta Berger, Luc Merenda, Umberto Orsini, Anita Strindberg, Bruno Corazzari, Rosario Borelli, Manfred Freyberger, Tom Felleghy, Carla Mancini, Duilio Cruciani
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Awoken one night by an intruder in the house Sara Grimaldi (Senta Berger) has a close call before the culprit flees the scene. Shortly thereafter she receives word that her estranged husband Ted (Luc Merenda) is finally coming home. Which leaves Sara with mixed feelings. Now she has a life here in Portafino, Italy, coaching a children's swim team and exploring a tentative relationship with the affable Daniel (Umberto Orsini). However when Sara greets Ted at the train station he claims to be suffering from amnesia. Having fled London after an assassin out to murder him was shot dead, Ted is haunted and desperate for answers. While he struggles to piece together unnerving fragments of a seemingly sinister past, Sara is menaced by mysterious assailants bent on bloody retribution for reasons she must figure out. If she wants to survive.

Strangely enough the American grindhouse and home video market tried to sell Puzzle a.k.a. L'uomo senza memoria ('The Man with No Memory') as Europe's answer to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1973). Complete with grisly poster and video box art spotlighting the climax featuring a blood-splattered, chainsaw-wielding (yet somehow still alluring) Senta Berger. When in fact the film remains among the more cerebral, character-driven examples of Italian giallo horror-thrillers. Producer Luciano Martino was coming off a run of stylish gialli directed by his brother Sergio Martino. Here he upholds their reoccurring theme of protagonists whose fragmented memories spur them into an obsessive search for truth. Berger's presence is also interesting given she plays the flip side of her role in the French psychological thriller Diabolically Yours (1968), another film in which her screen husband suffers from memory loss.

Co-written by director Duccio Tessari and the inescapable Ernesto Gastaldi, with input from Bruno Di Geronimo and Roberto Infascelli, Puzzle interweaves parallel plots. One centered on Sara's plight trying to evade and deduce why she is the target of two criminals, the other dwelling on Ted's quest to piece together his ambiguous past. Gradually discovering he might not have been such a great guy after all. As such the film does an interesting job contrasting moments that unsettle on both a visceral (the sense of being stalked in your own home by a malevolent stranger) and psychological level (Ted recalls slitting a man's throat and ponders whether he himself is a psychotic killer). Tessari infuses the unfolding mystery with his background in hard-boiled Euro-crime thrillers and spaghetti westerns, playing neat little mind games that compensate for the script's many ludicrous pulp contrivances and melodramatic moments. His direction is stylishly disorientating, making use of extreme close-ups, offbeat angles and towards the grisly finale dreamy slow-motion. As a result Puzzle maintains an ominous, suspenseful atmosphere (further abetted by Gianni Ferrio's eerily beautiful easy listening score, which includes a lovely theme song) even throughout its slower stretches.

The film is especially effective in those moments with Sara alone in a darkened apartment terrorized by an unknown assailant. Using every lady-in-peril trick in the book, Tessari evokes classics like Wait Until Dark (1967) and See No Evil (1971) while the talented Berger makes for a highly compelling heroine. Vulnerable yet, as the climax proves, resourceful in a clinche. Later a plot twist lands Sara with a broken leg leaving her even more vulnerable to the machinations of the increasingly thuggish George (Bruno Corazzari). Meanwhile a Home Alone (1990) style subplot involves Sara's friendship with a bratty boy named Luca (Duilio Cruciani). His would-be cute insights into the romantic foibles of grown-ups prove irritating (as do his constant attempts to hit on Sara - hey, child or not Luca is still an Italian). However Luca's photography hobby proves instrumental in helping Sara eventually unravel the conspiracy. Refreshingly for this genre, hero Ted is not glib about his unsavoury past and proves suitably contrite. It ends with a taut and gruesome climax, nicely handled by Tessari, with of course a saw-wielding Senta. Although you have to wonder why Sara keeps a chainsaw in her apartment in the first place?

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 210 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: