The Curator of Schlock #394 by Jeff Shuster

Puzzle

Sausage festival. 

I thanked the Orlando area vigilante known as the Revenging Manta for saving my life and wished him the best of luck in his battle with the criminal gang known as the Iguana Consortium. I figured I would track down the nearest Comfort Inn as my home, The Museum of Schlock, had been taken over by members of said gang. Then the hand of the Revenging Manta gripped my shoulder. 

“You’re not leaving,” he said. “There’s a delivery of fentanyl happening at 3 AM. Together, we will stop it.” — To be continued.

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This week’s giallo movie is 1974’s Puzzle from director Duccio Tessari. This movie was known in Italy as L’uomo senza memoria which translates to The Man Without a Memory. And that’s a fairly apt description as a man named Ted Walden (Luc Merenda) has lost his memory after a bad car accident. He’s seeing a therapist, Dr. Archibald T. Wildgate (Tom Felleghy). Ted’s trying to uncover who he is when the therapist introduces Ted to Phillip (Manfred Freyberger), the best friend he can’t remember.

Ted invites Phillip back to his apartment to get some answers about his former life, but Phillip just proceeds to punch him, calling him a “double crosser” and asking him to give up the amnesia act. A sniper’s bullet hits Phillip in the back, killing him instantly. Ted then receives a telegram telling him to meet his wife, Sara, in Portofino, Italy. Ted then hides Phillip’s body in the Murphy bed in his apartment. That body is going to be ripe in a few days. I’d hate to be the landlord who discovers that surprise.

Next, we’re introduced to Sara (Senta Berger), Ted’s beautiful American wife. She is a swimming instructor for boys at a recreation center. She’s friends with the boys’ coach, Daniel (Umberto Orsino), who may have a thing for her. Daniel is just a little too nice if you know what I mean. There’s a young street urchin named Luca that Sara has befriended. He likes to take pictures and shove other boys under when he’s trying to win a match. Sara lives a full life and even has a pet dog named Whiskey. She also keeps a chainsaw in her apartment. Perhaps she makes ice sculptures in her spare time.

Ted meets Sara at the train station at the appointed time in the telegram. He walks right past his wife, but a mysterious stranger points her out to him. She’s furious that he didn’t recognize her. Ted explains that he doesn’t know who he is and she says he’s a dirty rotten bastard. Also, Sara didn’t send the telegram. Ted becomes worried that some bad men set up their meeting.

Whiskey, the dog, is found with his throat slit on Sara’s bed. Who kills a dog? Some real sicko. Turns out the mysterious stranger Ted ran into the train station wants a string of white sausages. Rest assured these aren’t sausages, but tubes filled with pure heroin. Turns out Ted set up a drug deal and now his former partners want his cooperation to finish it. Trouble is Ted doesn’t remember anything about the white sausages or does he. Be sure to watch to get to a rather violent conclusion. You didn’t think the director would introduce a chainsaw early on if he didn’t intend to use it.

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Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444episode 450, episode 477episode 491episode 492, episode 493episode 495, and episode 496) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.