Review: Torso (Blu-ray)

Blue Underground brings Sergio Martino's psycho sexual Italian sleaze fest Torso to Blu-ray!

  • Director: Sergio Martino
  • Starring: Suzy Kendall, Tina Aumont, Luc Merenda, John Richardson
  • Year: 1973
  • Runtime: English: 90 Mins / Italian: 93 Mins
  • Company: Blue Underground
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Discs: 1 - 50GB
  • Video: 1.66:1 - 1080p - AVC
  • Audio: English DTS-HD MA Mono, Italian DTS-HD MA
  • Region: All
  • Released: 9/27/2011

Giallo films are quite a treat. Definitely an acquired taste and usually not accessible for the casual viewer but a unique new experience for cinephiles looking to delve into an obscure genre filled with sex, murder and black gloved assailants wielding shiny butcher knives. For the unfamiliar, the term 'giallo' literally means yellow in italian, but garnered a much impactful meaning in the film world for being feature length thriller mysteries reminiscent of paperback novels with the trademark color. The genre owes a great debt to the dozens of filmmakers such as maestro's Mario Bava, Dario Argento, etc, for certifying it's legendary stance. Torso is certainly a quintessential giallo that embodies the genre's infamous trademarks while sporting some truly unforgettable scenes.
To adequately & simply summarize the film's plot without giving anything away (like all films, best to go in fresh), I'll repost Blue Underground's own to-the-point synopsis. A series of sex murders shock a college campus, and four beautiful young girlfriends head for the safety of an isolated country villa. But as they succumb to their own erotic desires, their weekend of pleasure becomes a vacation to dismember at the hands - and blade - of the lecherous maniac. In other words, Torso is a nasty slice of sleazy italian horror.
Years prior to Torso (aka Their Bodies Bear Traces of Carnal Violence or simply Carnal Violence), director Sergio Martino was no stranger to thrillers. His films The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh & Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key both are master examples of the giallo genre that are still highly regarded to this day for their transcendence and sexy use of Italian babe Edwige Fenech. Martino wouldn't stray far from the genre with Torso, which most consider his seminal film for various reasons. The whodunit theme in all gialli is more than often telegraphed and predictable but here it's actually quite a surprise when the killer is revelaed, a revelation for films of this ilk.
Furthermore is the films notorious and copious amount of nudity and gore. Torso is filthy and grimy to the bitter end; no exaggerating. 99% of the onscreen women shed their clothes to reveal their busty assets before meeting a grizzly end from the hands of the killer. Did I mention the bladed maniac cops a feel after dispatching his luscious prey? Well yeah, he does. One of my peeves with Torso is it's terribly slow structure that seems to take ages to get where it's going. Sure the aforementioned bloodletting and T&A keep your attention but in between those crimson moments it's pure boredom. Luckily, the cat-and-mouse third act is exceptional and truly shows Martino's sharp eye for suspense.
Torso is required viewing for horror buffs that want to search beyond the FX laced golden age of the genre. It's a jack of all trades film that includes all the trademark staples with excessive amounts of boobage and blood to trance your mind. It has it's faults but sticking with it to the end is wholly rewarding and quite redeeming with it's shocking finale.

  • Video
To my eyes, Blue Underground's Blu-ray release of Torso looks mighty impressive. I've seen many reviews that have major complaints with this disc and other Italian discs from Blue Underground. I'm no home video specialist and will never claim to be, but with my own devices I think this transfer is just fine. 1080p really brings out the collage of vibrant colors throughout the film and significantly boosts them. Grain is present but not as much one would expect, DNR has slightly been applied but it never detracts from the viewing. It's a sharp disc and certainly one of Blue Underground's finest efforts.
  • Audio
Both included DTS-HD Master Audio mixes are sound quite nice, dialogue is distortion free and always clear. Same goes for the music and effects, sharp and crisp throughout. No worries in this department.

Bonus Features
  • Interview - "Murders in Perguia"
This newly produced interview (thanks Red Shirt Pictures!) with Director Sergio Martino is quite informative and sheds light on Martino's career. Topics range from his introduction into filmmaking and working in many different genres (giallo, spaghetti western, action etc) to his professional relationship with actors. Martino is in very good spirits here and loves that Torso is still enjoyed to this day. At the tail end of the video, Martino even reenacts the voiceover from the American trailer!
  • Theatrical Trailers
International, Italian and U.S. trailers are included, each with their own unique spin on selling the film. The U.S. trailer is like a mix of a late night TV ad voiced by a hyper game show announcer, complete with a wailing guitar and nudity. It's become one of my favorite retro trailers for that reason.
  • TV & Radio Spots
Two TV spots are included which are essentially shortened versions of the U.S. trailer (sans nudity) with the unmistakeable guitar whine. The two minute Radio spot also carries over the aforementioned trade marks. We American's knew how to sell a film!
  • Poster & Still Gallery
The always welcoming photo gallery on Blue Underground discs is one of my favorite special features. It's chock full of various poster sheet, lobby cards and video releases. Seeing the film's diverse marketing from all over the world is highly entertaining.
  • U.S. Opening Credits
  • Intro - Director/Writer Eli Roth
This quick introduction from horror filmmaker Eli Roth optionally plays before the film where the director divulges his love for the film, calling it Martino's masterpiece.