Torso (1973)
By: Devon B. on February 6, 2013 | Comments
Blue Underground | All Regions | 1.66:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD 2.0 | 93 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Sergio Martino
Starring: Suzy Kendall, Tina Aumont, Luc Merenda, John Richardson, Roberto Bisacco
Screenplay: Ernesto Gastaldi, Sergio Martino
Country: Italy
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I had been avoiding Torso for a few years now in an effort to keep my movie collecting in check, but I eventually caved and bought this Blu-ray. It was only about 20 seconds into the movie before nudity, so I was quickly absolved of any potential buyer's remorse. Any hint of remorse was long gone by the time the end credits rolled because, while I expected Torso to be a pretty cool giallo, I wasn't expecting for it to be a friggin' masterpiece.

In the film, a balaclava clad killer is making sleazy, short work of females. The balaclava is brightly coloured, which makes the killer look a little silly, but also it's fairly distinct, which makes the killer more memorable. The slayings freak out a peer group, some of whom start to suspect all the men around them in a nice dose of realism, so they decide to hide in a secluded villa. The trip to the country doesn't throw the killer off the ladies' trail, as he's soon making appearances again.

Torso's original title is The Bodies Bear Traces of Carnal Violence, and that title is very accurate. The attacks on the women are portrayed as highly sexualised, which could normally give a film a misogynistic air except Torso didn't seem misogynistic to me at all. The killer is clearly a misogynist, but the film itself isn't. The women aren't useless like they are in many an Italian production, and the viewer is obviously meant to empathise with the heroines. The film certainly gets sleazy, but it makes the bulk of its male cast out as creeps, and the camerawork turns the viewer into a voyeur often enough that it's sure to unsettle many who come to the movie just for gratuity. There is nudity, but it's mostly somewhat obscured or connected with the violence, so despite the opening sequence there's not a lot of wholesome titillation. Instead, the film seems to be making a comment on Italian society, and the way women are viewed in it. At one point the killer is literally following in the footsteps of some big talkin' men, so the mentality that leads to the objectification of women is shown as being what literally comes before the killer's latest spree.

Aside from social commentary, Torso has a lot more to offer. The film is both a solid giallo and a proto-slasher, but will work for fans of either, completely distinct, genre. Being a giallo it does have some odd moments, and the acting isn't always the best. The film moves at a deliberate pace so it's not a whirlwind, and at times it may even be a little too slow, but it is building to a taut, virtually wordless, finale that justifies all the setup. The cinematography is excellent, immersing the viewer in the film where appropriate, but also keeping the viewer at bay at times to create a feeling of unease. Some of the FX work doesn't hold up, but other than that Torso's a hell of a film.

There're a few different versions of Torso around, but this Blu-ray has made the US theatrical cut completely unnecessary as it re-instates the bits that were censored. This means there are a few extra bits of dialogue in the Italian version, but some viewers may find these bits unnecessary and prefer the slightly shorter English language version. A big chunk of the running time difference happens right at the beginning of the film, with The Bodies Bear Traces of Carnal Violence starting with a lecture being given, whereas Torso jumps in after the lecture's over. I also spotted a new scene about a guy taking a crap. The Italian version is a bit less jumpy because it has the extra scenes connecting it together, but with Torso now uncut these extra scenes shouldn't make that big of a difference to the viewing experience.
The Disc
The video transfer looked the same to me when I compared the two versions of the movie. Torso's a 70s Italian film, but at times the excellent transfer transcends those limitations. The movie looks clear and clean and it even pops at times. It might not compete with a new release, but given what this film is, this transfer is fucken awesome and serves as a reminder that when Blue Underground get it right they are a force to be reckoned with.

Unlike the video, the audio does vary a bit depending on what version of the movie is being watched. On Torso the English language track is a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 that has a pretty steady bitrate of 2MBPS. Given there's the option to watch The Bodies Bear Traces of Carnival Violence in English but with subtitles for the few untranslated scenes, I figured the English audio would be the same, but on the longer cut the bitrate varies more often, but didn't seem to get much higher than 2MBPS ever. This track did sound a touch cleaner when I was swapping between the two, but the difference was minimal. Both tracks seemed a bit muffled in comparison to the Italian language track which is a touch louder with a bit more treble. All three options are a good representation of the original mono mix, and are all of very similar quality, and I would've been totally pleased with any of them on its own. There are flaws, but they would all be from the source material. There are a few scenes in The Bodies that will swap to Italian, but thankfully a subtitle track is included that only translates those scenes so the viewer won't have to keep turning the subtitles on and off. The subtitles are not dubtitles, so a few scenes' tone changed a little with the different translations from the English dub.

The Blu-ray has an interview with Martino; the alternate US opening credits, which haven't been cleaned up so look rough; the US, international and Italian trailers; two TV spots, a radio spot; a poster/ still gallery; and an intro by Eli Roth. The interview runs about 11 minutes and is conducted in English. Martino gives a bit of a career overview, but does discuss Torso in particular and makes fun of its ad campaign.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
There's a young American student in Torso that impresses people by being interested in things that aren't American. She suggests that some Americans are better at being less American, which is exactly the way I want to be remembered, like the American woman from Torso that seemed less American than she was. Along with giving me a life goal, Torso is a fantastic movie that should delight giallo fans and appeal to slasher fans, too. The picture and audio quality on this release showcase Blu-ray at its best. I'm glad Blue Underground didn't succumb to the temptation of a 7.1 remix like they have on other titles, because for people just wanting a great, untampered with copy of the movie this release is perfect. A few additional extras would be good, particularly as the film is rife with social commentary just begging to be dissected, but I'm personally completely satisfied with this release.

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