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 care for or even know the thinly written characters in the slightest.
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.
Along with Bay of Blood this is one of the co-founding movies of the slasher genre. I like how Martino manages to build an insane ammount of tension in the final act. The killer and a potential victim are in the same place, yet they keep avoiding each other. Any other director would blew their load too soon. Martino waits, and waits.
Delightfully suspenseful, grubby giallo with some excellent visual flourishes and an arresting mise en scene. One of the best Italian horrors I've seen. I particularly loved the cluttered, gaudy interiors (of the apartments, not the victims). I wasn't entirely comfortable with the erotic elements which verged on the exploitative at times, but it's a thoroughly entertaining shocker that deserves its reputation.