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Countdown to Halloween: Torso (1973)

Updated: Apr 23, 2019



WHY I'VE NEVER SEEN IT


I was aware of Torso from the video store days, but always thought it was an 80's slasher movie. I would eventually have seen it, but not during my current focus on movies made and released prior to 1978.


WHY I BOUGHT IT


When Arrow Video provided a screening copy, I was thrilled to learn that Torso was actually made in 1973 and was perfect ground for Classic Horrors to cover. Did I continue to be thrilled, or was I disappointed? Please continue reading...


WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT IT


Arrow Video redeems itself for its somewhat lackluster release of Schlock with a bonus feature-heavy Blu-ray for Sergio Martino's Torso (1973), including five new video interviews, one with Martino himself. Bonus features like these have helped me appreciate movies I've never previously seen. I'm afraid, though, that they didn't help me appreciate Torso, an uneven genre hybrid that drug too long for me.


To be clear, I watched the "Original Italian Version" of the film. (The disc contains three other full-length versions of it.) I call it a "hybrid" because it has obvious roots in gialli, but was released at the end of that era and often plays as an early slasher. It would be nice to call Torso the movie that either bridges the gap between the two genres or passes the baton to a new genre, but its two styles don't quite fit together well enough to successfully give it that credit.


The giallo part of Torso comes from its set-up. A masked killer with black leather gloves is murdering mostly naked college females. But, the movie doesn't focus on an investigation; it focuses on the stalking of the killer's victims. In fact, the entire final third of the story unfolds at a villa where several women retreat to get away from the city and be safe. A lone survivor, Jane (Suzy Kendall) is trapped in her bedroom and attempts to escape before the killer learns she is there.


Prior to this sequence, I had to stop the movie because my eyelids were growing heavy. You'd think when I started it again later, a conclusion like the one I described would be welcome relief from the tedium and an exciting way to end the action. Instead, it also stretches to a point that the suspense dissipates. One possible reason is that Martino restrains the gore. Normally, I wouldn't complain, but previous scenes included typical, graphic depictions of bloody murder.


Kat Elinger, frequent contributor to Arrow releases, is quite fond of Torso. On her commentary, she calls it a throwback to late-1960s gialli, but more cynical. Further, she mentions an idea some film historians have that Martino is the Italian Roger Corman, not from the producing aspect, but that his goal was simply to make movies that entertain. If that is his goal here, I can appreciate the effort, but can't quite recommend the result.


SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:


  • 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

* The English audio track on the original, longer cut has some portions of English audio missing. English audio for these sections was either never recorded or has been lost. As such, these sequences are presented with Italian audio, subtitled in English."

Written by Ernesto Gastaldi, Sergio Martino Directed by Sergio Martino Starring Suzy Kendall, Tina Aumont, Luc Merenda, John Richardson, Roberto Bisacco Released January 4, 1973 (Italy) RT 94 min. Home Video Arrow Video



ABOUT THE COUNTDOWN


We all have them... stacks of movies we've purchased, but never watched; or, movies on the DVR, filling them to capacity. This year for the annual Countdown to Halloween, I'm going to make a dent in my "stack," watching one movie a day for the month of October that I've never seen, then writing about it.

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