Shameless Films in the UK continues their commitment to sharing the best in classic sleaze with their new UK Blu-ray premiere of Sergio Martino's Torso. The company has recently released two of Martino's other classic giallo films on Blu-ray - The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh and All the Colours of the Dark, both starring Edwige Fenech - but this is probably one of the most eagerly awaited film from the director's filmography to hit the British Isles in HD. The film was released on Blu-ray back in 2011 in the US by Blue Underground, and I reviewed it then:
Sergio Martino's film mines the primordial brain, mingling sex and violence in a very explicit way, more explicit than most, even, and creates a very visceral reaction in the viewer. We are attracted and repulsed in equal measure by the images on screen, titillated and shocked alternately throughout the film's run time. Torso uses sex as a primer for violence, he softens up the victim and the viewer by showing the women in their most vulnerable state before sacrificing them to the other primal urge of the human species, the urge toward violence.
One thing that is striking about Torso is the complete competence shown by Martino, especially in these days when adult thrillers and gory horror films are often dirty and dingy. Torso is neither, much of the film takes place in broad daylight, an unusual setting for a giallo, even in 1973. However, the setting doesn't detract from the film's impact, in fact, it brings us even closer to every character, victim and perpetrator alike. Martino's ability to fling a red herring onto the set and watch everyone dive for it is impeccable. This goes for character and viewer alike. We are constantly kept on our toes by the skillful misdirection employed by the director, and just when you think you might be catching onto something, there are boobs, and the mind goes blank.
Torso is a remarkably effective film that would probably have been classified as a slasher if it'd been made ten years later. Luckily for us, that didn't happen. So the film finds itself frozen in time, in 1973, a reminder of what giallo films used to be like. Everything in the film screams 1973, from the free love, to the outfits, to the bouncy giallo score, and it is magnificent.
Forgive the extended self-referencing, but having rewatched the film for this review, I think I said it pretty well back then. Torso remains a high water mark in this part of the giallo cycle of the late '60s-early '70s and a film well worth seeking out.
At a touch under 93 minutes, Shameless Films presents the longest available version of the film on their new UK Blu-ray. The film looks quite solid and appears to be sourced from the same archival materials as the previous US disc. The disc features both Italian and English language audio tracks for the uncut version, though the latter is missing a few seconds of English dialogue here and there and is instead presented in Italian with English subtitles. It is not very distracting and integrates into the experience well. Worth noting is the fact that the English language version on this disc differs from the Blue Underground presentation in that the previous English version didn't build the Italian inserts into the run time of the film, meaning that if you wanted to watch it in English before, the film was only a bit over 90 minutes.
One more significant distinguishing feature not previously available on the Blue Underground disc is a unique Martino interview that runs at a healthy 23 minutes titled "Dismembering Torso", which goes into considerably more depth than a different 11 minute interview on the previous HD presentation from Blue Underground. Seeing as how both discs are region free, if you're trying to decide between the two, I'd definitely go for the Shameless disc as the unique English enxtended version and interview are the main differences between the two for completists.