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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Friday, August 27, 2021

Torso (1973)

This is what I would consider one of the best Gialli ever made. It has everything you could ask for. A decent mystery as to who the killer is that keeps you guessing until the end. Lots of sleaze and nudity because… well that is what makes a Giallo a Giallo. Fun kills with some decent gore effects work. And finally, a wonderful bit towards the end where we get emotionally wrung out with one of the characters watching in silent horror as her friend’s bodies are butchered. Good times, but then I guess I should backtrack some and talk about the plot.

Our story is set or at least starts off at the campus of a large university. We see students working on their art degrees, which is why they are in Italy. Lots of paintings and statues around. One of the girls goes off with her boyfriend in her Cooper Mini to have naughty grown up times with him. This leads to her and him both being killed, which is a shock to the other girls. When another of their friends also ends up dead one of them, Dani, with a rich uncle sends them to his villa in the country to get out of town and possibly out of danger. This includes an American named Jane who arrives late after driving up rather than taking the train with the others. This is important later as between that and being laid up in bed after hurting her ankle she isn’t around when the killer takes everyone else out.

The black gloved killer thinks he has killed everyone and is leaving town when he hears some of the locals talking about the fourth girl. This means he needs to head back to finish her off. He is in the middle of doing this when the doctor treating her realizes something is wrong and goes to check on them. There is a huge and well-staged fight sequence before the killer gets what is coming to him and the day is saved. Also, we finally find out who the killer is and why the crimes were committed. I won’t spoil that here, but I will say it wasn’t random.

I’ve already mentioned that the mystery is good. There are a lot of suspects and the film does a great job not cluing you in too early as to what is going on. What I especially appreciate about Torso is when they do pull back the proverbial curtain and show you the truth it all makes sense. I love Italian movies, but the plots aren’t always easy to follow and make some odd leaps in logic. Here it is satisfyingly straightforward. While I admit some of the characters are here simply to raise the body count there is an effort to connect them to the bigger storyline. So again, some effort was put into the script.

Being a Giallo you expect some nudity and naughtiness. We get a lot of that from the sex scene that plays under the opening credits to the ladies who enjoy each other’s company there is no end to that sort of thing in Torso. If you don’t want to see that sort of thing then honestly the Giallo genre isn’t for you. This is a staple, and it is nicely done here.

Something else fans expect are decent kills and gore. Again, the movie delivers the goods with a respectable nine kills. Throats are cut, girls strangled and drowned. My favorite kill has to be death by Mini Cooper. Ever wanted to see a guy’s head squished by a bumper? If so, then Torso is the movie you have been waiting for! A lot of the kills are offscreen and seen after the fact, but they stage them so well that it wasn’t a big deal. We also get an extended gag with bodies being dismembered. While it isn’t explicit the sound effects used sell the scene are almost better than any gore could have pulled off.

I love this movie and highly recommend it. This along with Bay of Blood are a couple of Gialli that clearly influenced the Slasher genre of the late seventies and eighties that I grew up on. For that alone it is worth checking out. But again, this is a fantastic movie that has a lot of stuff going for it.  If you haven’t seen Torso, then stop reading and go track down a copy. It is easy to find out there, but if you have the option the Blue Underground Blu-Ray is the way to go.


© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

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