"A word of advice – If you want to be spared, don't try to recall
who you've seen wearing that foulard."

A masked killer is on the loose in Perugia, Italy, preying on students from the local college. The victims are all strangled with a distinctive red and black scarf before being knifed. To escape the danger, four of the students – Jane (Suzy Kendall), Daniella (Tina Aumont), Ursula (Carla Brait), and Katia (Angela Covello) – move into a large, remote villa on on a cliff overlooking the city, where they can be safe and frequently naked. But the killer has his sights on the foursome and he isn't far behind! Could the killer be Daniella's stalker, Stefano (Robert Bisacco)? Maybe it's the local doctor (Luc Mereda), the creepy scarf vendor (Ernesto Colli), or perhaps one of the horny townies is taking his fantasies too far. The remote villa quickly turns from an escape into a trap as the killer claims more and more victims!

If Mario Bava's Bay Of Blood is considered the template for the slasher film, then Sergio Martino's Torso takes the next step in the development. Expanding on the basic idea of naked co-eds in a confined space getting picked off in graphic fashion, Torso introduces more elements that would become stylistic staples of slasher films. These include the "killer's POV into a window, watching his victim," the "dim-witted but well-meaning yokel who interrupts the killer," the "couple steaming up a car and getting interrupted by the murderer," and "hiding in a closet as the killer silently walks just outside." There's also the convention of a sex scene immediately preceding a murder. Made in 1973, Torso predates the slasher genre and it might be disappointing for slasher fans. But it's a really good giallo, filled with extended, quiet scenes of high suspense. In fact, I think it's Sergio Martino's best movie.

  • Does the title make sense?  I guess it sort of makes sense. "Torso" could refer to the hacked-up body parts that the killer leaves or it could refer to the mid-sections of the movie's beautiful ladies (or for that matter, the painting of St. Sebastian featured in the college art lecture).
  • Torso is both sexier and bloodier than your average giallo. Lots of nudity, lots of explicit murders.
  • The cast is full of familiar faces: Suzy Kendall from The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Carla Brait from The Case of the Bloody Iris, Luc Mereda from Puzzle, and John Richardson from Eyeball
  • At the villa, the killer has time to take his victims' bodies apart with a hacksaw, load the parts into plastic bags, and dispose of them in the countryside. This scene is effectively gruesome.
  • We see a body being buried, but it's a quick, unmarked grave, so I didn't check "scene in a cemetery" in the boxes above.

What the Hell am I Watching? 

Wearing a body-bearing mini-dress, Ursula draws a crowd of drooling men who make harassing and often racist comments about her.

There's a hippie party in an abandoned building that features naked dancing and bored-looking kids getting high. The camerawork gets a little creative here, shooting a topless dancer from below. This has the opposite of its desired effect.

The killer wears a stocking ski mask, making him look a bit like a Luchador.

Fashion Moment

The red and black scarf (or is it a black and red scarf?) is an important clue in the mystery

At the villa, the ladies kick it in fabulous scarf halters and peasant blouses.

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