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Release Date(s)1973 (September 27, 2011)
When you think of giallo, that uniquely Italian form of horror cinema, you most likely immediately think of such filmmakers as Mario Bava and Dario Argento. Sergio Martino is somewhat lesser known in this country outside of the circle of hardcore horror buffs. I've only seen a couple of his movies myself but after watching Torso, I'll be looking for more. Torso is one of the very best giallos I've seen, bar none.
The picturesque university town of Perugia is rocked by a series of brutal murders, primarily targeting beautiful young women. The police haven't got much to go on. Just a red and black scarf (or is it black and red?) used as a murder weapon. With several of their friends already in the morgue and virtually every male they know a likely suspect, four girls decide to get the hell out of Dodge for the weekend. They retreat to a hilltop estate outside a small village but naturally, they aren't half as safe as they think they are.
Obviously Torso's strength doesn't lie in the stunning originality of its story, although the script by Martino and Ernesto Gastaldi is fairly smart and well done. The movie is elevated through Martino's masterful command of the camera. Unlike some other giallos, this one isn't all about shock and gore. Martino expertly builds suspense throughout the picture, leading up to a brilliant finale that'll keep you on the edge of your seat. This is just great filmmaking, regardless of genre.
Blue Underground has produced some spectacular Blu-ray upgrades and their track record continues with this release. The picture quality is downright amazing. It's a clear, vibrant image with lush colors and what appears to be a minimum of DNR. It's textured, rich and a pleasure to watch. Audio is presented in both Italian and English in DTS-HD Master Audio mono. It's certainly fine and gets the job done but there isn't a great deal to either commend or condemn.
There aren't a tremendous amount of extras but what's here is worth checking out. Eli Roth contributes a laudatory introduction to the film. There's a new interview with Sergio Martino which is brief but extremely interesting. Martino gamely provides his answers in heavily-accented English but Blue Underground provides subtitles to give him a hand. The disc also includes the US opening credits, three trailers, two TV spots, a radio spot, and a gallery of posters, key art and stills. You also have the option of watching the uncensored English version of the movie or the Italian cut, which runs about three minutes longer.
I wasn't expecting to be terribly impressed by Torso but the movie turned out to be a pleasant surprise. This is a genuinely suspenseful thriller that delivers all the beautiful women, gorgeous Italian scenery, and shocking violence you could want from a top-notch giallo. This would make a good double feature with Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy. Believe it or not, Torso would hold its own against the Master of Suspense.
- Dr. Adam Jahnke