Torso (1973) (Arrow Video) (Blu-ray Review)
DIRECTED BY: Sergio Martino
STARRING: Suzy Kendall, Tina Aumont, Luc Merenda
RATED: UR/REGION A/1:66/1080P/NUMBER OF DISCS 1
AVAILABLE FROM Arrow Video
A talented and versatile journeyman, director Sergio Martino (The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail, Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key) has lent his talents to multiple genres across his long and varied career, but it is undoubtedly his giallo thrillers from the early 70s for which he is best known. Among the most highly acclaimed of these, 1973’s Torso revels in the genre’s time-honored traditions while simultaneously laying the groundwork for the modern slasher movie. A sex maniac is prowling the streets of Perugia, targeting picturesque university town’s female students. Alarmed at plummeting life expectancy of the student body, Jane (Suzy Kendall, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage) and her three friends elope to a secluded country villa – only to discover that, far from having left the terror behind, they’ve brought it with them! Also known as Carnal Violence, Torso was released in Italy towards the end of the giallo boom before enjoying a second life on the American grindhouse circuit. Co-starring Tina Aumont (Salon Kitty) and Luc Merenda (The Violent Professionals), the film finds its director at the top of his game, delivering copious levels of violence, sleaze and one of the tensest cat-and-mouse games ever committed to celluloid!
One thing you’ll notice about this movie is everyone is either naked or looking suspicious! Well no, let me go into detail a little better, if you are a male in this movie you are a total creeper AND looking suspicious at all times. If you’re female you are usually naked or acting all snobby..unless you’re the one American chick in the bunch, then you don’t get naked at all!…Guess who probably ends up lasting the longest?? Oh, and do you want a fun drinking game while watching? Take a shot every time someone says “Chow”. I know this is a dubbed movie from 1973 but come on now people! Give me a hello or a goodbye at some point, don’t just say chow! Regardless, and all jokes aside, red herrings are all around in this movie. And to the film’s credit, you never really know until you finally know for sure. Another really awesome thing about the movie is the killer, who is in a simple ski-mask (full head one). He comes across as pretty crazy and cool looking. And even if at times it seems as if his killing ways are a bit limited (a lot of choking and cutting), you should respect this film for being one of the forerunners to the whole “Slasher” group of horror none the less. But all that being said, the movie does tend to run just a bit slow, perhaps too slow for many of you out there. But that’s not saying the movie is all bad because it isn’t. It just seems to drag a little too long during its middle portion. But, that’s all setting us up for a pretty cool ending.
If you’ve been patient (and if you plan on watching a Giallo style film you should be), the last act of the film does pick up a whole lot. Little is even said as this all comes to a head, and what you are left with is full on suspense and a lot of drama. And yes, we even get to see that trusty handsaw from the cover of the movie come into play. This is of course when all your questions are answered, motivation is revealed, and we get an ending that I feel I pretty damn satisfying if I do say so myself. Maybe, in reality, Torso is a bit more of a thriller than it is a horror film. But it’s still got some great moments and is a film worth watching more than once…Even if to me it’s a bit slow. I had no beef with the Blue Underground version of this but Arrow does seem to once again have the edge with this new transfer and the movie does indeed look better. If you are a big fan of Torso then, by all means, feel free to get the Arrow version even if you are happy with the other because the new stuff is worth the re-buy.
– New audio commentary by Kat Ellinger, author of All the Colours of Sergio Martino
– New video interview with co-writer/director Sergio Martino
– New video interview with actor Luc Merenda
– New video interview with co-writer Ernesto Gastaldi
– New video interview with filmmaker Federica Martino, daughter of Sergio Martino
– New video interview with Mikel J. Koven, author of La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film
– 2017 Abertoir International Horror Festival Q&A with Sergio Martino
– Italian and English theatrical trailers
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais
QUALITY OF TRANSFER: 98%