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Review: Tormentor (1972)

Reviewer: Daniel Perry


We call them slashers but across the pond in Italy they like call them Giallo or in the plural sense Gialli. For those not familiar with the term the word giallo (pronounced jah-loh) is Italian for "yellow". This is associated with books that were written in Italy that concerned slashers and or mystery thrillers and had yellow covers. Tormentor (aka Death Carries A Cane) is just that. A mystery slasher if you will.

Our story opens in fine slasher fashion as Kitty (Susan Scott aka Nieves Navarro) witness’s a murder while looking through a coin operated tourist telescope. She cannot make out the identity of the killer but notices that the killer has a limp and is dressed in all black. The police are called in to investigate and conclude that the killer walks with the assistance of a cane. This cane is put to good use throughout the film as well. Soon more murders take place and one common thread becomes apparent. All of the victims are ballet dancers. The killer continues to elude the police and Kitty’s boyfriend Alberto (Robert Hoffman) becomes the main suspect due to his curious limp caused by a sprained ankle that happened right before meeting up with Kitty after the first murder. There are plenty of red herrings to go around in this rather bloody slasher, from Alberto to the head detective on the case (who likes to sharpen pencils with a razor while at his desk!). The killer’s identity does come somewhat as a surprise by the final minutes of this Hitchcock influenced, some say ripped off, Italian giallo.

As with most gialli from the 1970’s, director Maurizio Pradeaux builds up his slasher scenes with plenty of suspense. Making sure the viewer is going to be caught off guard when the killer strikes. Each sequence is somewhat drawn out and you do tend to find yourself getting a wee bit fidgety anticipating that final moment. The weapon of choice is a straight razor, a weapon I’ve always felt was one of the cruelest and icy cold of blades a slasher could wield. Not to worry the cane is also used as part of the killer’s modus operandi. Much flesh is sliced in gory fashion and also revealed in many a sex scene in this film as well. Sex and violence seem to get many people killed in Italian slashers just like in American slashers.

An important ingredient in the genre that is put to good use in Tormentor. The storyline is a little confusing at times but again that also seems to be an ingredient in these Italian slashers. I don’t think it has anything to do with the incompetence of the director but is used to literally throw the viewer off the true identity of the murderer. Overall this is a good effort and a fun watch!

The version I used for this review was provided by Wizard Video and is somewhat cut and is missing some of the gore and nudity that is prevalent in an available uncut version that can be found via Midnight Video (google it!).



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