Thursday, October 25, 2012
Piece By Piece
Carefully the masked killer stalks his prey, waiting to strike in a sudden burst of ferocity. The kill is not the end of his plan of terror, for he then proceeds to mutilate the corpse with a sharp knife, cutting into the flesh. Who he is remains unknown, and the police are baffled. What I've described is common among most giallos, yet Torso (1973) is absolutely brutal and goes beyond the pale at times. It is a psycho-sexual film, driven by strong impulses and completely unflinching in its display of raw, unnerving violence. None of the film is particularly campy, and despite a few lame attempts at humor the film is mostly about a strange murderer lurking in the shadows. Nothing is supernatural here, and Torso actually obscures the mystery by turning all of its male characters save for maybe one into creepy perverts, most who could be the killer. There is even a mostly even ratio of male to woman deaths, which is different from many other slasher/giallos.
What's further examined here is certain rules being established, ones that many proceeding slashers would observe. Vehicular sex is followed by death, a woman who gets high wanders off and is brutally slain in what is the most creepiest part of the movie, and someone opens a door when they and the audience know they shouldn't, which leads to really bad things happening to say the least. Torso is well constructed, almost way too neatly made for a giallo film, and its far more intelligent and suspenseful than most American slasher movies. Especially concerning the last 25 minutes, which is the equivalent of walking a type wire without a safety net.
So controversial that it was actually butchered by the censors, I was happy to find a copy of this movie that was uncensored (yet dubbed) in my local public library. According to IMDB.com there was supposed to be a different ending, and I would have liked to have seen that ending, but I'm perfectly fine with having been able to view the movie in the first place. This of course is going to be just another giallo in an endless long list of giallos, because no one could make slasher movies quite like the Italians. 93