They sent me a couple I-Talian pictures to check out. And one good thing about foreign movies is that their scream queens WILL get nekkid on ya in a hurry. The first of the gruesome twosome is Torso (1973, 92 minutes), followed by Autopsy (1973, 100 minutes). Both flicks, shot in and near Rome, feature lots of skin and creepy dudes peeping up gal's skirts and into their windows. Those dirty Italians.
Of the two, Torso's a heckuva lot better. What could have easily been pure exploitation, actually has a STORY to it. But it also knows when to take a back seat to the frolicking coeds, while still keeping the film moving forward. Director Sergio Martino did a skillful job with this equally suspenseful and lurid picture. When they shipped it off to the good ol U.S. of A the weenie censors cut a bunch of the good stuff out -- but don't worry, it's all back for the DVD version. The Italian title was a real mouthful I Corpi Presentano Tracce di Violenza Carnale (The Bodies Bear Traces of Carnal Violence).
Now, you purists out there are gonna be a might upset because I watched the movie in ENGLISH on account that's what I understand and there weren't any subtitles. So, pipe down.
The movie: As the U.S. theatrical trailer keeps harping, Torso is a movie about a PSYCHOSEXUAL homicidal maniac. I dunno about y'all, but here in Texas, that just means it's a DIRTY MOVIE. There's a whole slew of perky coeds getting the life strangled out of them, usually right after some late night hanky-panky. There's almost as many suspects as victims, one of them a would-be boyfriend that just won't take no for an answer. So four luscious babes head off for a hill-top villa in hopes of getting away from the lecherous maniac who likes to forcibly accessorize his victims with scarves. Turns out the guy's willing to travel ... and that's a good thing, because otherwise we wouldn't get to see the horrifying dismemberment scenes. What Leatherface did with the Black & Decker chainsaw, Torso's killer does with the simple, but efficient bow saw. Not a lot makes it on the screen, which makes it all the more grizzly. Remember to breathe during the last reel and you'll be rewarded with a terrific ending.
Notables: 14 breasts. 10 corpses. Menage-a-three photo shoot. Multiple strangulations. Whore slapping. Skinny dipping. Dope smoking. Yard monster free fall. Cigarette to the tummy. Multiple diddling. Eye poking. Head squashing. Tractor riding. Cobbler taunting. Window peeping. Lesbian tongue rasslin. Nekkid sunbathing. Corpse groping. Involuntary cliff diving. Grappling hook fight. Gratuitous flashback sequence. Dismemberment by bow saw.
Quotables: Kudos to the angry whore who snaps at her John with performance anxiety, "Even if you're queer or impotent, you're paying the price I charge just the same." And to the killer who says, "Death is the best keeper of secrets."
Time codes: Extra displays acting school "contemplative chin rub" technique (25:00). Ernesto Colli's hat size gets reduced, permanently (37:25). Creepy broad with cigarette holder (40:20). Lesbian couple demonstrates the horizontal mambo (48:10).
Audio/Video: Excellent picture throughout. Good clear audio. There are whole (and parts of) scenes with no English audio track and subtitles kick in.
Extras: Two trailers (U.S. theatrical and international Carnal Violence trailer).
Final thought: You'll feel like a real sicko for actually ENJOYING this one. Recommended.
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G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.