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Review: Torso (1973)

Reviewer Daniel Perry


I enjoy a good thriller. A solid film that delivers the bloody goods…Torso is one of these films.

A crazed killer is strangling and slicing up young female college students in Rome. The only clue to who the killer might be is his calling card, a black and red striped scarf that he uses to strangle his victims. Jane (Suzy Kendall) and Daniela (Tina Aumont) decide to get away from all the violence and go to Daniela’s family villa in the hills with two of their girlfriends. Unknown to them they are being followed by Stephano (Roberto Bisacco), a fellow student who has an unhealthy obsession with Daniela. One their trip up to the villa Daniela meets Roberto (Luc Merenda), the handsome doctor who happens to be going to the same village that the villa is located. Soon their tranquil weekend turns into a deadly nightmare, which there seems no escape.

Director Sergio Martino certainly indulges in this film. He uses every chance to bombard the viewer with excellent cinematography and plenty of atmosphere. Not to mention many graphic sex scenes. The killing of a young girl in a foggy forest is an excellent sequence that really sets the movie on target in terms of style. Not to mention a brilliant sequence involving Suzy Kendall and the retrieval of a key that will unlock her room and to possible freedom. This scene will simply make you say to yourself “Oh that was just wrong!” Another brilliantly filmed scene is when Suzy Kendall is hiding behind a half open door and a chair, staring in horror as the killer dismembers his victim’s bodies with a pruning saw. All the while his face is hidden from view making that more disturbing.

Torso doesn’t seem to get the respect it deserves. It has often been frowned upon because of its lack of “gialloesque style”. This movie plays out more like the slasher films that we have all come to love. It might not have the flare of an Argento film but it does deliver some tense moments and plenty of bloodletting. A good portion of the gore is more implied than actually seen which makes it that much horrific. Yes there is plenty of nudity and sex that doesn’t degrade the actresses but helps put the audience into the mindset of the killer and his motive.

Torso is available through Anchor Bay Entertainment. Their presentation is beautiful and in widescreen format. Some of the scenes are in their original Italian language with English subtitles. These scenes were missing from the US print and restored here. As far as the gore content is concerned, this presentation is the most complete. However there are some discrepancies concerning opening title cards and a seen where a college professor is speaking at the beginning. None of these things take away from the viewing experience though. A very underrated slasher!



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