For the first hour this movie bounces between quality and crap even more frequently than it jumps between nudity and gore, but then it all becomes very worth watching in the final third. If only we could get a reedit with some actual character development for our main group of women and an extension of the sweat-inducing game of cat-and-mouse.
dear American friends: this is not good at all really. I don't understand how you can ignore movies like Le orme (1975) or Macchie solari (1975) or Il profumo della signora in nero (1974) and praise such a poorly directed/written/acted movie like Torso. All Martino wanted was making fast cash with erotism + giallo tropes, yet you guys treats him like he's Sergei Eisenstein lol
(La palude. Il risveglio di Suzy Kendall e il silenzio dell'orrore, insieme con la scena che immediatamente lo precede - e lo stacco che le unisce. L'uso espressivo del montaggio, soprattutto nel finale, ma anche nel portare ad evidenza l'elemento che distingue l'assassino.)
An early giallo/proto-slasher that finally rises out of its weak-whodunit plotting when it becomes a final-girl flick, as Suzy Kendall secretly witnesses her friends dead bodies being hack-sawed to pieces by the sex-killer in a series of searingly suspenseful scenes. The horror is so well-drawn out here that it's a true pity that one doesn't know the characters in the slightest and that it takes so long to get there.
Not sure I quite 'get' Martino yet, I greatly admired the inventive blocking of his previous film 'Your Vice...' yet this film didn't quite jive with me. Particular moments such as the association made between giallo aesthetics of bodies & blood to both abstract expressionist art and the Italian Renaissance painter Perugino are the most intriguing aspects and will hopefully become elucidated in subsequent viewings.
Maybe gialli just aren't for me. Besides Deep Red, What Have You Done to Solange and Lizard In A Woman's Skin...every film is dull as dishwater with a few moments of searing visual brilliance to break up the monotony. This one is especially porn-y with little else to interest one, even in the death scenes.
As far as slasher flicks go, this is as fine a piece of misogynist pop art as one might imagine. Certain stylistic flourishes like the camera-zooms and kitschy music now seem like little touches of winking brilliance, although the pornographic prurience is likely very genuine (and therefore equal parts charming and embarrassing, amusing and repulsive).
I'm giving this giallo classic three stars simply because of the superb use of locations. The film has another thing going for it, the tension. In the tense final part of the film the heroine is trapped in a house with a murderer who doesn't even know she's there. While the cliches of most giallo films are present the visual flair, strong directing, and fleshed out characters really made this film stand out.
Sergio Martino was a good technician without any imagination so he was a lot dependent on the screenplay he was adapting. 'Torso' was written by Ernesto Gastaldi, one of the most interesting giallo writers of the period hence the quality of the movie. Recommended.
I must bump this up to 4 stars. I was disappointed 5 years ago when I went in expecting the high hopes that tagged along with the stunning praise it received from other slasher fans, but this time I got what I wanted. A strong Martino giallo, not only with striking imagery, but clever ideas woven together into a well bred story.