Gailo veteran Sergio Martino offers us a delectable slice of early giallo cinema. Whilst viewing his movie now, ‘Torso’ may seem generic in terms of in terms of content as its bares all the trademarks of all giallo movies made since, but realise that back in 1973 this was one of the first wave, this was a film which was inspired subsequent movies, not copied.
As you may have guessed, in terms of plot it’s fairly basic. The usual unidentified killer is stalking, killing and trophy-taking from young college coeds. The killer always uses the same after death MO and through flashbacks we see somehow how psychological events from the past have twisted the killers mind, causing him to kill; in this case the eye gauging of dolls.
As with all Gialo’s the plot twists and turns with many suspects being dwindled down to one final person, who is inevitably revealed in the end sequence of the film. The best of the genre keep you guessing right until the end, however, dispite the cast of the movie struggling to figure out who it did it (as Martino apparently refused to tell them until the end) I thought it was pretty obvious who the killer was and guessed around halfway through, although I’m not going to lie, I had no idea of motive.
That said the plot was pretty well crafted with a lot of red herrings to keep you guessing (if only for a bit!).
The cast was well put together, and despite the women obviously selected for aesthetic purposes the acting isn’t bad. The dubbing (the only language option on the UK disc) however does spoil the integrity of the movie a little and I would definitely have preferred to watch the movie in its native tongue. On the topic of women, my god, there are a lot of tits in this movie, all are pretty nice too. There is a definite influence of the times shown here as there are boobs in pretty much a third of all scenes. Lovely!
With that out of the way I looked towards the other genre defining aspects of the movie, brutality. Now for me giallos don’t have to be particularly gory but what I do want is brutal, imaginative murders. Torso definitely makes a good effort and despite the majority of the deaths being through strangulation Martino also manages to slip in some eye gauging, impaling, limb removal and throat slitting. Admittedly, owing to the time it was made, the effects are a little bit dodgy and you can tell most of the ‘corpses’ are models but still, credit for effort.
Overall, despite its age ‘Torso’ is still a strong entry into the genre. Personally I believe that work since, namely by Argento and more recently Puglielli’s ‘Eyes of Crystal’ have improved on Martino’s formula, however it was still really interesting to see where their influences came from. If you are intrigued by the story and are sick of watching poor giallo efforts then give this movie and try and revitalise your love for the genre.