Torso is about as basic as giallo gets, with four nubile college girls being stalked by a masked killer in a remote and secluded house. Is there nudity? Yes. Is there gore? Plenty. Is there poor dialogue and rigid acting? Check and check. And even though this should be a formula for the most rote slasher movie of all time, it works surprisingly well.
The story plays out like this: after a credit sequence menage-a-trois involving eyeless dolls and hidden cameras, we meet Daniela (Tina Aumont) and her college friends Jane (Suzy Kendall), Katia (Angela Covello) and Ursula (Carla Brait) who are attending Rome University when a series of brutal (and naked) murders occur. Sticking with bloody tradition, two lovers making out in a car are done in by a masked pervert. Then another girl gets got after being kinda sorta kidnapped by two longhairs on scooters who take her to a some kind of love in at a warehouse or… something. None of it makes much sense, but it becomes increasingly clear that the person killing these people gets his switch flipped by sexuality.
Being totally freaked out, the girls decide to get out of death town for the weekend and head to a remote country villa to try and relax, which involves even more nudity. As if drawn to the raging libidos of every guy in the town below, the killer shows up, offing anyone who gets in his way. And this being the uncensored version, there’s plenty of gore when he does.
The whodunit aspect of the story is kind of beside the point, but it does keep things lively. Every man in the story is portrayed as either a leering pervert or a drooling neanderthal, creating all the red herrings you could ever hope for and establishing an interesting point: it doesn’t matter at all who the killer is. At the end of the day, this is survival horror, not Miss Marple.
It follows that the big reveal holds almost zero resonance, but by that point the movie has already pulled its best trick. While everything else is pretty standard stuff and should be terrible to sit through, there’s a subtle switcheroo in the third act that sort of spits in the eye of the standard final girl philosophy of most slashers. It’s nothing that’s set up – it feels more like Martino decided to pick what happens at random in a scenario that may well have inspired Alexandre Aja’s Haute Tension. Story threads just fall away for no particular reason, creating an off-kilter feeling that would send American slashers into conniptions. A character who was being set up as the weakest lamb in the flock ends up having a lot more life in her. And other characters that seemed more important end up having much less.
The gore doesn’t even approach realistic, with candy apple red blood and mannequin dummies. This coupled with the brutality and salacious nature of the murders ups the camp factor a good bit, adding to the fun. Here is a movie that remake-drunk Hollywood should take a look at – they wouldn’t have to think at all in terms of story and could concentrate solely on blowing the whole budget updating the FX.
It’s all a pretty impressive feat for this ’70s Italian slasher that appears to have nothing more ambitious on its mind than gore and some T&A. This sick little popcorn movie has a point of view, not just a marketing directive. It might not be so bad if today’s psychos could regress to the simple, clean lines of Torso.
The film is presented in 1.85:1 / 16:9. The video is surprisingly clear, especially when compared to the quality of the trailers. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono in both English and Italian. The English version includes some portions in Italian with subtitles because apparently the English tracks were lost or never recorded.
U.S. Trailer – The standard, if overlong, trailer for the film. (3:32)
International Carnal Violence Trailer – The international version with freaky deaky color effects and a different, more relevant title.(3:08)
Torso gets by on its guts, literally and figuratively. This is a movie that can easily stand shoulder to shoulder with other classics of the genre.
Blue Underground presents Torso. Directed by: Sergio Martino. Starring: Suzy Kendall, Tina Aumont, Luc Merenda, John Richardson. Written by: Ernesto Gastaldi and Sergio Martino. Running time: 92min. Rating: NR. Released on DVD: July 28, 2009. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: Blue Underground