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Torso (1973)

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Plot Summary:
"Someone is strangling coeds in Rome. The only clue is that the killer owns a red and black scarf, and police are stumped. American exchange student Jane and her friends decide to take a break from classes by going up to Danielle's uncle's villa in the country. Unfortunately the killer decides to follow, and the women begin suffering a rapid attrition problem."

Review by
Ryan McDonald
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Review Date: 06 November 2007 My Rating: out of 5


Whilst young women are being strangled in Rome, four female students head off to an isolated retreat, unaware that the killer is following them.

Whether you regard it as giallo, slasher film, or both, this 1973 Sergio Martino (director of the infamous 'Slave of the Cannibal God') cult favourite was a film I wanted to see for a long time. The reason? Sapphic love scenes- so sue me, OK? And even though there wasnít very much of that (sadly, but there is some, at any rate), itís still chock full of stunning 70s babes to keep horndogs like me happy enough. The cinematography by Giancarlo Ferrando is positively stunning, especially one seriously creepy scene involving a fog-laced swamp.

But actually, the most impressive thing about this film is what it is trying to say; This film wallows so much in misogyny and exploitation, mostly seen from the POV of the killer, that it would appear that the audience is being asked to join in on the voyeurism (nearly every scene has someone watching someone else, often itís us doing the watching). It makes for a slightly unsettling (yet visually pleasing) experience- thereís even nudity in the opening scene!

Which is a jolly good thing since the plot is old hat, the performances underdone (though Suzy Kendall comes to the party acting-wise at the finale, with believable terror and fright), and the characters barely drawn at all (as is typical for a giallo, the male characters are total dullards). The music score by Guido and Maurizo de Angelis is also very Goblin-esque and too familiar.

Itís not in the upper echelon of giallo, but itís certainly better than many slasher films (including every one of the 'Friday' films. If only those films dispatched their insipid characters as quickly as this film does- youíll see what I mean when you watch it). Worth seeking out (and better than many dense critics suggest), if youíre into either category of horror mentioned above (I reckon, along with 'Black Christmas'- which it occasionally resembles- this film helped give birth to the slasher film) or like lots of naked breasts. If you do watch the film, answer me this; Were the first twenty minutes or so really relevant?

Overall, itís a near miss, with the finale an absolute corker, but a long-time coming. Watchable, at any rate, particularly for giallo or slasher fans.

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