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September 11, 2011

Movie Review: Torso (Blu-ray, 1973)

Since their inception in early 2000, Blue Underground has been waving the Giallo flag by releasing many quality Italian films - like the recent excellent 1080p upgrades of Dario Argento’s Deep Red and Cat O’ Nine Tails. They continue their Blu-Ray roll with Sergio Martino’s classic Torso in both its uncensored English version(90 minutes) and Martino’s full-length “Director’s Cut” (93 minutes) under the title I Corpi Presentano Tracce Di Violenza Carnale.

Both versions of the feature kick off with an introduction by Torso superfan Eli Roth. Love him or hate him, Roth does a nice job as he briefly points out some the aspects that made Torso such influence on his films. There’s an option here to either watch the intro or go straight to the feature. As the opening credits roll you see a great deal of style in what is a very erotic opening sequence in which three lovely women are on display “playing” around in the buff.

Young American cutie, Jane (Suzy Kendall, The Bird With the Crystal Plumage) is studying abroad in Italy. Jane and her equally beautiful group of friends seem to be surrounded by lecherous men only looking for one thing, and that’s not a study partner. Luc Merenda stars as the mildly lecherous, Roberto. He’s at least creepy enough to be a prime red herring with his silent guise and chiseled facial features. 

The bodies begin to pile up as often as we see bare flesh on screen. This seemed to be the biggest issue with censors and some more prudish viewers – the uncomfortable combination of sadistic sexual violence and gore. The majority of the murders have this aspect which even for some of the more jaded folks oozes with depravity. The graphic stabbings, head-crushings, neck-slashings and other assorted grotesqueries are all in their uncut form for both versions of the film. Much of the excised gore was absent in previous releases so it's very cool to see it in the film.

What’s the difference between the two versions you may wonder. It's Only three minutes but it’s enough for me to give the edge to Sergio Martino's longer  Director’s cut. Some narrative excised from the  shorter American version is present here, and that includes an impressive opening sequence during a class in the college hall that introduces the main players – each with a close-up on their faces. It may be a small thing for some but it’s a cool touch Martino has in there. Gore and sex-wise, there really is no difference for anyone curious.

These presentations are obviously from original materials and look magnificent. When I watched Torso previous to Blue Underground’s Blu-Ray is always seemed so dark. The night scenes were especially hard on the eye. That isn’t a problem here as the many night sequences look as good as they possibly can. The clarity and detail on the feature is also in area that deserves plenty of praise. It’s another sound restoration by Blue Underground and for the finicky genre Blu-ray market.

Trailers, TV spots and the original opening to the American opening are all included. Red Shirt Pictures also supplies a yet another quality supplement to add to their numerous featurettes with a solid interview the co-writer and director of Torso Sergio Martino. Martino goes into detail about the name change and how the title Torso meant nothing to Italian audiences. It’s a brief (11 minutes) but very enjoyable segment. To top things off, a poster and still gallery is included.

With what may be one of the sexiest female casts in Euro-cult history and an amazing style rivaling the best of Dario Argento – Martino’s Torso comes as essential viewing for any fan of Giallo. Blue Underground’s Blu-ray presentation is yet another great release in their catalog.
                     (Screencaps courtesy of

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