Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

TORSO



TORSO (1973/Italy). Director: Sergio Martino.

While this Italian giallo film lacks the style, finesse and classy art direction of the best of Mario Bava and Dario Argento, it does manage to work up some suspense and chills in the final quarter. Young women are being stalked, murdered and dismembered in Rome. The suspects include a professor, a love-sick student, a handsome doctor, a co-ed's uncle, the "village idiot" and others. The heroine, Jane, (Suzy Kendall) retreats with three friends to a house in the country high atop a cliff, but finds she can not escape the killer. The movie begins inauspiciously and promises to be a pretty dull item, but it sustains interest until an excellent sequence when Jane hides from the maniac as he begins to dismember her friends. Later there is a very taut, chilling sequence when he goes through her room in search of her and nearly finds her. If the whole movie had been on the level of these tense scenes it really might have amounted to something. As it is, horror fans may find it worthwhile. The professor, Franz, is played by John Richardson, who co-starred with Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C. (1967) and did little else of note. The script throws in a lesbian love-making scene for no apparent reason other than to presumably add some extra titillation. None of the killer's many victims, either male or female, ever seem to fight back. At one point he manages to dispatch three women (off-screen) at the same time!

Verdict: Not great, but of interest to fans of psycho-shockers. **1/2.

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