Loaded with ample amounts of gore, nudity, and bold idiots making terrible decisions, Torso (also known as Carnal Violence) will be a dream for giallo fans. Its influence on that specific genre is clear in the present. In terms of appreciating it as a classic of its type, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Torso has plenty of violence. It certainly has enough personal touches from director/co-writer Sergio Martino to make it distinctive from the very long list of giallo films.
If anything keeps Torso from being one of the very best, it’s an aimless first half. That portion spends a lot of time upping the body count, looking for creative approaches to filming softcore sex scenes, and finding the best ways to combine its surrealistic score with big bucks of violence (mostly against women). Some of it eventually means something to the more enjoyable second half. Some of it doesn’t. It is also entirely possible that you’ll just enjoy that first half for what it is. This is tawdry and exploitive in the kind of unapologetic way that you’d expect from something like this. If you are of that mindset, you’ll probably have a good time with the whole thing. For everyone else, I would also that you at least considering holding on for the second half. That’s when we finally get into the best parts of this story that has a serial killer knocking off coeds, and just trying to sort some stuff out.
The mystery element is always important to these movies. Some directors take it more seriously than others. While Martino’s was generally tamer than his contemporaries, he certainly had the capacity to build a murder mystery. It just seemed to take him a little too long sometimes, and Torso suffers from that slightly as a result. Still, Torso offers a twist that makes sense, and actually delivers an element of surprise you truly didn’t expect. My telling you that won’t make a difference. Twist has a better-than-average murder mystery behind it. Everything more or less makes sense, and the tension Martino brings to that 2nd half is probably why guys like Eli Roth and Quentin Taranto think so highly of him. Those guys like to waste time, too, while hoping it all pays off in the 2nd half. When it does, you generally leave with a film that falls anywhere between pretty good and astonishing. Torso is better than pretty good, but I probably wouldn’t say it’s astonishing. The cast, particularly Suzy Kendall and Luc Merenda, also go a long way towards making Torso worthwhile.
For fans for this notable chapter in giallo history, the special features and overall presentation share the stage for breathtaking. The 2K restoration allows the film’s atmosphere and other visual qualities to shine. This Arrow Video Blu-ray also packs a deep resource of informational features. Not only is the movie available in several versions, but the disc also offers audio commentaries, as well as video interviews with Martino, his daughter, noteworthy scholars, and others. Worth a blind buy for any horror fans with an appreciation for vintage and Italian, liking this movie includes the benefit of seeing these features as a godsend. While this isn’t the best Italian horror movie I’ve seen this month, it was good enough that I enjoyed everything those features offered. For what that’s worth.
Review copy provided
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THE FILM: 7/10
THE EXTRAS: 10/10
THE DISC: 10/10
While maybe not the masterpiece Tarantino thinks it is, Torso is nonetheless entertaining for just about the whole of its running time.
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