BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

Torso AKA Carnal Violence (1973) - Blu-ray Review

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Torso (1973) - Bluray

The murder mystery format turns sleazy in this exploitation offering from genre-hopping director Sergio Martino.  Rescued from obscurity by Arrow Video, this violent and messy affair is all sorts of fun in that exploitative way that makes horror hounds and gore-gore girls happy.

The Italians have always had an eye for exposing skin and mixing beauty with handfuls of slasher-type sadism – especially in the horror genre – and somehow making it all stick.  From Mario Bava to Dario Argento to Lucio Fulci, Italy has been the cornerstone in keeping the subgenre alive from 1960 until the early 1980s when America took over the reins of slasher films.  While others have dabbled with the exploitative horror medium, few Italians – outside of Martino (and the holy trinity listed above) – have actually pulled it off.  Torso is, pardon the pun, simply a cut above the rest and the ultimate godparent to films like Friday the 13th, Black Christmas, and Halloween.

"this violent and messy affair is all sorts of fun in that exploitative way that makes horror hounds and gore-gore girls happy"


Written by Ernesto Gastaldi and Martino, Torso is the perfect example of a less-is-more type of slasher storyline that actually works.  It’s a paranoid sucker that provides more than an ounce of tasty “what the hell?” moments of shock and schlock.  Quite suddenly, a shocking series of sex-related murders sweep through a college campus and into its neighboring town.  Not everyone can cope.  The cops can’t successfully bring the masked killer to justice and the college co-eds just want to release their fear through some free love and drug use.  Not the best combination for a killer who gets his kick as a knife-wielding Peeping Tom.  Starring Suzy Kendall and Tina Aumont as two students who simply can’t take the pressure and leave the town for a spell in the countryside, Torso explains that sometimes evil will follow you into the places where you feel the safest.

Yes, the horror staples are all present: nudity, sex, silly teenagers, and gore galore fill the screen with a certain degree of familiarity.  A closer examination of everything we have come to take for granted in these types of films will confirm just how well and how critical the scenes are executed as they build toward the film’s stunning and wordless 20-minute climax.  The voyeurism is there, but note how Martino shoots every single male in the area; any one of them, at any time, could be guilty of the killings.  As the audience, the trick is in never letting us know who the killer actually is.  Thus, suspense and paranoia builds in us through the clever use of camera angles and unique murder set pieces.  Through in some traumatic childhood memories and there you have it; the recipe for the slasher genre that would be followed for years and years to come.

Torso (1973) - Bluray

Of course, the film isn’t without its flaws.  The pacing is, at times, a mood killer as is the acting and the film is filled with a bit too much lingering shots over female body parts and other gratuitous sex acts.  Nonsense, you say?  While I genuinely agree, the problem is - with a wicked film like Torso - all those additional shots of gore and skin threaten to undo the psychological tension that it works so hard to create as seen through the eyes of its Peeping Tom killer.

Parody and imitation in legitimate horror films is something to be avoided and, because Hollywood still hasn’t learned this, there is a line that can be crossed that will wreck everything the film builds in its audience’s minds.  Wisely, Martino doesn’t cross it.  He gets really close, but then reveals some intelligence in carefully designed moody kill sequences that pull us back in to what some sick-minded individuals (and genuine horror film fanatics) hail as the slickest and thickest Torso around

4 beers

Torso (1973) - Bluray

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
92 mins
Director
: Sergio Martino
Writer:
Ernesto Gastaldi
Cast:
Suzy Kendall, Tina Aumont, Luc Merenda
Genre
: Horror | Mystery
Tagline:
Enter... if you dare the bizarre world of the psychosexual mind.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Death is the keeper of secrets."
Theatrical Distributor:
Joseph Brenner Associates
Official Site:
Release Date:
September 13, 1974
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 30, 2018
Synopsis: A sex maniac is prowling the streets of Perugia, targeting the picturesque university town’s female students. Alarmed at the plummeting life expectancy of the student body, Jane (Suzy Kendall, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage) and her three friends elope to a secluded country villa – only to discover that, far from having left the terror behind, they’ve brought it with them!

Torso (1973) - Bluray

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Arrow Video
Available on Blu-ray
- October 30, 2018
Screen Formats: 1.66:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
Italian: LPCM Mono; English: LPCM Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

The brand new transfer is from a 2K restoration from the original camera negative.  The 1080p transfer is the best the film has ever looked before.  Mined from pristine original elements, the disc offers the original Italian version of the film and the recut American version.  Both offerings are crisp with color and fine detail.  For a film from 1973, the fact that only a couple of scenes (one being in a swamp) are soupy and murky speaks volumes about the source material.  Skin tones are perfectly natural throughout and contrast, as well as its DTS-HD Mono audio track, is super clean, tight, and uber groovy.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • See Special Features.

Special Features:

LArrow Video has given this film the ROYAL treatment. 

  • • Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative by Arrow Films
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations of both versions of the film: the 94-minute Italian and 90-minute English cuts
  • Original lossless Italian and English mono soundtracks*
  • English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
  • New audio commentary by Kat Ellinger, author of All the Colours of Sergio Martino
  • New video interview with co-writer/director Sergio Martino
  • New video interview with actor Luc Merenda
  • New video interview with co-writer Ernesto Gastaldi
  • New video interview with filmmaker Federica Martino, daughter of Sergio Martino
  • New video interview with Mikel J. Koven, author of La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film
  • 2017 Abertoir International Horror Festival Q&A with Sergio Martino
  • Italian and English theatrical trailers
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Adrian Smith and Howard Hughes

Torso (1973) - Bluray

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