Much loved by giallo fans, and yet another contender often included when discussing templates for the modern slasher movie, Torso is enjoyable, twisted stuff. It is, however, also a tad dull in places, leading me to wonder just what I was missing if I didn't immediately consider it an unmissable classic.
Suzy Kendall and Tina Aumont are two lovely ladies in a film full of lovely ladies. Yes, Torso throws in plenty of gratuitous nudity and, in the second half, a big excuse for a sleepover that puts a bunch of potential female victims together. There's also a killer on the loose, of course, and that makes the ladies afraid. So afraid that they continue to get naked often enough to keep viewers happy, in between the moments of tension and/or bloodshed. And that's about it.
Director Sergio Martino is a significant talent, capable of much better work than what's on display here, and he certainly knows how to make his films aesthetically pleasing for those who like attractive women (hint: he tends to employ attractive women and then encourages them to disrobe). Torso has some of his usual flair, here and there, but it's just a bit too clumsy and ugly in places to be considered a top-tier Martino flick, in my eyes. The script, co-written by Martino and Ernesto Gastaldi, works well enough when setting up the killings, and explaining the sleazy background motivator for our mystery killer, but there are moments when it can't maintain any momentum, becoming preoccupied with fringe characters, mainly lust-filled men, who are of little interest to viewers.
Kendall and Aumont, as previously mentioned, are lovely, and that's all that's really required of them. This isn't a film designed to showcase acting talent. It's designed to showcase the physical assets of those ladies, plus Angela Covello, Carla Brait, Conchita Airoldi and Patrizia Adiutori. There are some men onscreen too, mainly Luc Merenda, John Richardson, Roberto Bisacco and Ernesto Colli, and they're all perfectly fine as they do whatever happens to need done in between more scenes involving the ladies.
There are some nice moments of gore, and it's easy to see why this is considered such a major influence on the slasher flicks of the late '70s and '80s, but it's let down by the meandering moments that feel like padding, despite its lean runtime. Still well worth your time, but I just didn't get an all-time-great vibe from it.
Oh, and I can't finish this review without praising one of the main alternative titles that this was known by - "The Bodies Presented Traces of Carnal Violence". How beautifully evocative and unpleasant is that? Both poetic and painful, which sums up the best of Italian horror cinema right there.