A sexy, naked college student and her sexy, naked friends flee into the beautiful countryside of rural Italy, pursued by a psychotic masked killer. His rampage carries him knife-first through the abdomens (and eye sockets) of fornicating, pot-smoking co-eds for the duration of the film’s 95-minute runtime, culminating in a tense cat-and-mouse with the hobbled Final Girl. As you can imagine with this type of movie, a strong, handsome Man’s Man appears from who-knows-where to save the day at the last second.
AKA: The Bodies Bear Traces of Carnal Violence Director: Sergio Martino Actors: Suzy Kendall, Tina Aumont, Luc Merenda, John Richardson Genre: Horror/giallo Year of Release: 1973
In keeping with the magnificent tradition that is Giallo, Torso is sleazy, violent filth that should never be watched by anyone of upstanding moral character or good taste. But for the rest of us, it’s a real treat. Sergio Martino is the kind of director who only comes around once in a lifetime. His movies are crude, amoral, trashy, and amount to virtually nothing but pornography with good lighting. It’s awesome.
Make no mistake, this is an iconic Giallo classic for the discerning horror nerd. The cinematography is stylish and slick, the blood and gore are ridiculous and the acting is terrible. There’s a plot—kind of a super-violent Scooby-Doo mystery—but it doesn’t really matter. Sergio Martino makes it clear that watching black gloves touch dead titties and girls getting their eyes gouged out are what this movie is really about. Which you’d think would be expected, coming from the dude who directed Mondo Sex.
What really sets Torso above other Giallo offerings from the period is that, while it might be terrible, it is technically a complete movie. The plot is juvenile, the acting is bad, and the writing is hilarious at best, yes. But! Torso actually has writing, acting, and a plot. This is a genre where the movies don’t always even make sense. Even the pinnacles of the genre—stuff like Deep Red and Blood And Black Lace—ain’t exactly masterpieces of cinematic storytelling.
It’s worth a watch if you love the genre. If shiny blades, black leather gloves, J&B scotch, gore and titties sounds like a good time to you, Torso‘s where it’s at. While—fun fact—it technically does pass the Bechdel Test, it’s not exactly a treatise on intersectional feminism. The villain’s climatic evil monologue reads like a Reddit post from the worst kind of fedora-tipping neckbeard. If maturity, artfulness, tact, grace or class are prerequisites for you, then… well I don’t even know if cult horror is for you, to be honest. Torso definitely isn’t.
Also released with the title The Bodies Bear Traces Of Carnal Violence (no seriously), Torso lives up to the implications of both of its titles. The killer carnally assaults the titular bodies, and then hacks them into the eponymous anatomical configuration – a torso, I mean. The killing is pervasive and graphic,; garishly fake blood erupts from prop skulls and latex stab wounds at every turn.
Let’s talk about sex bay-bee… but seriously, there’s a lot of it. There’s an orgy, lesbian sex, public sex, constant nudity, and honestly a lot more. There’s no out-and-out full frontal penis or vagina (this isn’t a Lucio Fulci movie for god’s sake) but it’s a very, very sexual movie. I was serious when I likened Sergio Martino to a pornographer – even the soundtrack is sexually explicit.
The body count is is surprisingly low – only nine people die throughout Torso.
The unedited version of this movie alternates between English and Italian because not every scene was dubbed for the English release, which was heavily censored.
There is a kid kill in Torso, but it is fucking hilarious.
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