Monday, January 25, 2010

Torso (Sergio Martino, 1973)

A faceless killer with some serious doll issues is roaming the streets in search of attractive women to strangle and dismember in the luridly trashy Torso (a.k.a. I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale), an Italian giallo from director Sergio Martino (Giovannona Long-Thigh). Now, I realize films featuring women being killed and arty shots of doll faces are as common as the sight of a dozen Canadian dimes stacked neatly in a recently sullied ashtray. But this Euro endeavour is different in that it seems to be obsessed with the female anatomy; specifically, the freshly scrubbed gams of its shapely victims. This shameless display of the right kind of skin creates an elegant balance between the grisly scenes and the more erotic ones. There's moment early on when it looked like the film was gonna start centering its tawdry gaze on the investigative side of the film's first murder, a nighttime strangulation with some mild mutilation. But thankfully the focus stays on the naughty co-eds and the creepy guys who love/want to kill them. The film is set mainly in halls of Perugia, but most of the murdering takes place in the lovely Italian countryside. And since I've already alluded to the film's first murder, I'll skip ahead to the second: a swampy slaying sequence that just happens to be my favourite in the entire film.

A flirtatious co-ed named Carol (the alluring Conchita Airoldi), tired of being molested by two generously haired motorcycle riders at a freewheeling hippie party, wanders off into the forest only to end up face-to-face with a knife-wielding maniac in a ski mask. Probably wishing she was back at the quasi orgy being pawed by gay bikers, Conchita (credited here as Christina) makes a feeble attempt to escape her boggy pickle of a situation.

I don't want to give anything away, but let's just say she doesn't do so well in the not being killed by a psychopathic madman department.

With two girls murdered and a prostitute (Rosaria della Femmina) with darkish nipples nearly asphyxiated, the other tantalizing co-eds are starting grow concerned over the possibility that their primary breathing passage could be forcibly obstructed in the near future. Oh, sure, they're dismayed by the fact that the killer likes to tamper with bodies of his victims, but it's the actual choking that has all bent out of shape.

One co-ed in particular named Daniela (the wide-eyed Tina Aumont) is extremely skittish because she thinks she might be able to identify the killer. The only problem being that she can't remember if the scarf the suspect was wearing was black with red wavy lines on it or red with black wavy lines on it. Of course, it doesn't help that almost every guy in town likes to smirk evilly whilst fondling their duel-coloured scarfs.

Hell, even the scarf vendor (Ernesto Colli) caresses scarfs in a sinister manner. You'd think being surrounded by cloth-based neck beautifiers all day would diminish his predilection for scarf stroking. But that's nowhere near the case, as this motherscratcher is seen touching scarfs like nobodies business.

Better safe than sorry, Daniela, along with her two lesbian gal pals, Ursula (the leggy Carla Brait) and Katia (the wispy Angela Covello), decides to hop aboard a train to a remote village in the mountains to relax until the killer's reign of terror blows over. Lounging during the day and canoodling at night is what's on the docket for these young ladies. Unfortunately, strangulation followed by some unsanitary sawing is never far away. In other words: they should keep an eye out for deranged fellas lurking in the shadows, especially the one's sporting driving gloves (a giallo staple) in a non-driving environment.

Rendezvousing with the trio of women is the modish Jane (the all-purpose Suzy Kendall), an intellectually curious chick who has interests that go beyond drugs and dicks (a rarity for the drug and dick-centric era). Anyway, the killer is completely unaware that she is in the house Daniela and friends are staying at, which creates a tension filled final third where Suzy must use her wits to out smart the butcher downstairs. Oh, and she does all this while nursing a sprained ankle. (She may be smart and junk, but she can't walk down a simple flight of stairs worth a damn.)

Fans of gore will at first be alarmed by the all the cut away shots just as the killer is about to get his mangle on. However, this alarm is totally unwarranted when you consider the amount of dismemberment that takes place in the following scene. I mean, imagine how tedious it would have been had the murder and the gruesome aftermath had been shown. The decision to concentrate solely on the limb liberation was the correct one.

And by showing as little as possible of the actual sawing, Torso was able to maintain the violence to titillating ratio I mentioned earlier.

It should go without say, but the skimpy hem lines, gratuitous leg shots, and perverted camera angles were absolute joy to savour throughout this film. Though, I must say, it was the sheer largeness of the eyes of all the actress involved with this project that was mind-blowing. I don't know if it had anything to do with the makeup they were using. But what ever it was, I loved the way Sergio Martino filmed the eyes of the women in this film.

If I had to choose the winner of the "I had the biggest eyes in Torso" contest, I'd have to go with Tina Aumont; they're like dinner plates.

Yet, despite her winning of the big eye crown, I'd say Conchita Airoldi wins the prize for being the most attractive Torso girl from a sexy point-of-view. Check out the scene where she taunts the scarf guy with her slender Italo-stems. Provocante! Bella donna! Mela manico di scopa!

video uploaded by Drive-In Of the Damned


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  2. I'm honoured.

    It's been a lifelong dream of mine to become accepted by the weirdos with facial hair community.

  3. I love Torso and yes, the women are hawt. I think this features one of the most attractive (female) casts of all time...

    Love the still you chose. I think Torso is fairly underrated (the pot smoking hippie girl death is amazing) and I also think the score is fantastic. I have bits of it on CD...

  4. Even the secondary characters (like the prostitutes and students hovering in the background) are insanely attractive.

    Thanks. Making screencaps for this flick was not a chore at all.

  5. whoa - thanks for inspiring me to finally see this movie, and including the promo TV spot, which freaked me out to no end as a six year-old kid, though for the longest time I remembered the masked killer coming at her with a chainsaw and a lot more writhing in the mud, which percolated my hormones and made me terrified at the same time, a mix that insures I'm insanely skittish about slasher films to this day. I don't blame Torso though... or the fact we kids could see these ads while watching TV with the whole family. TORSO!

  6. The tv trailer for Magic caused me to run screaming from the room.