(Lectures): Sergio Martino tells an interesting story about the film’s originally planned title in an excellent interview on this lushly produced Arrow Video disc. The film’s producers wanted something more salacious to sell tickets, so they chose to pump up the sexual violence aspect with what they saw as a fitting title, I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale (The Bodies Bear Traces of Carnal Violence). where as Martino wanted to use I corpi non mostrano tracce di violenza carnale (The Bodies Bear No Traces of Carnal Violence) here after his working titles like Rosso come l’amore, nero come il terrore (Red Like Love, Black Like Terror) were rejected early on. The Torso moniker (Carnal Violence was a title created for the export release) was a choice from the film’s US distributors, by the way, In the States, Joseph Brenner Associates worked up a new title opening, chopped out 4 minutes of footage seemingly for some gory content and likely to make the film a run a compact 90 minutes (more butts in the seats at the end of the day), changed some music cues (the great Guido & Maurizio De Angelis score was fine, thank you), and there you have it.
*Ahem* I’m starting this review much like the film does (with an intentionally dull lecture after a sexy-ish opening) as a little joke because I’ve heard some kooky grumblings over the years at how the film gets off to a slow start for about 20 minutes or so. Nonsense, I say. Torso works as an effective and disturbing popcorn flick you’ll want to gather a few like-minded giallo-loving friends up to see. Yes, those friends will have to like some copious female nudity, icky flashes of gore in two of the early murders and nearly every male in the film portrayed as a leering goon of some sort (there are some regular guys here, but as background noise or padding out the lovely Perugian scenery). But this is a film where you’re getting almost exactly what you expect from with a title like this.
After the murder of some friends by the above mentioned killer (Hello!), four college students decide to hoof it over to a secluded villa, only to have the killer and a few other suspects trail them. While that’s pretty much the plot here, Martino makes things quite tense as well as very 70’s sexy (well, as far as the ladies are concerned). The film tosses a few potential suspects your way as it goes on, so you’re always on the fence as to who the killer might be. The killer not only has a penchant for he ladies, he turns out to be an equal opportunist, as the bodies pile up and more are claimed by a few means.
Those who haven’t experienced it might find it dated compared to modern horror films in some respect. I’d say those people have no sense of suspense. The last reel is still amazing because Martino uses less gore and more nail-biting thrills to roll out a killer finale where all is revealed. Showing the results of the mayhem that takes place rather then spending time on each kill was an interesting choice because the film then gets to focus on its survivor, trapped in a house while the killer dismembers her friends piece by piece… all the while thinking everyone has been killed. Until he overhears later that there’s still someone in the house… Eeek.
Arrow Video’s transfer is the most gorgeous to date, although some small elements of the longer 94-minute cut are in Italian with English subtitles because there either was no translation available or I kind of really killed the actors involved (I’m kidding! That footage either was never translated or lost to the ages). It’s not something you’ll miss anyway, as these restored sections are pretty self explanatory. It’s too bad about the restored US credits though. Well, I do like the VHS version for its graininess and such messing with the image quality – it makes for a nicely “retro” feel for a few seconds.
Arrow wisely includes both 90 and 94-minute English and Italian versions of the film here for all to see. I suppose I should remark about the lovely Suzy Kendall (The Bird With The Crystal Plumage) being “too old” to play a college student here, but I’ll just say nicely that one can be a college attendee and NOT adhere to a certain age, so there, nyah. That, and the other girls are certainly quite a lot to look at (you’ll see!). Oh, and I guess I’ll have to amend what I said about most of the men above a little, as Luc Meranda does indeed cut a dashing figure as a potential suspect, mua-ha-ha-haaa.
Um, anyway, you have a video below to check out to see what else is included on the disc, don’t you? Oh, wait. I haven’t gotten to that part yet- here you go, my friends:
So yes, I absolutely recommend Torso as a must for giallo fans and those who can handle it’s tense moments of genius. Of course, I’m a little biased, but hey, who’s got the fancy scarf here, pal? ME.
Oh that’s right, we did have a little deal, didn’t we? Hold on a sec, I’ll be done in a jiffy.
Score: A- (95%)
-The Killer (er, I kind of had to get rid of the other guy, sorry!)
-Review screener provided by Arrow Video