Torso (1973 film)

Torso (Italian: I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale, lit. 'The Bodies Bear Traces of Carnal Violence') is an Italian giallo film directed by Sergio Martino. The film was released in 1973.

Italian film poster
Directed bySergio Martino
Produced byCarlo Ponti[1]
Screenplay by
Story bySergio Martino[2]
Music byGuido & Maurizio De Angelis[2]
CinematographyGiancarlo Ferrando[2]
Edited byEugenio Alabiso[2]
Compagnia Cinematografica Champion[2]
Distributed byInterfilm[2]
Release date
  • 4 January 1973 (1973-01-04) (Italy)


In Perugia, the murder of several university students leads to a manhunt for a masked killer with a psychosexual disorder who uses red-and-black foulards to strangle his female victims before mutilating their bodies. When a wealthy student named Dani vaguely recalls having seen someone wearing such a scarf, she becomes the target of the mystery killer and, at her philandering uncle's suggestion, invites three of her girlfriends (two of them, lipstick lesbians) to stay with her at her family's remote country villa in Tagliacozzo.

However, the isolated cliffside villa offers no protection from the killer, who has meanwhile run over the blackmailing street vendor he buys his scarves from. A local peeping tom and then Dani's impotent stalker (who wears a similar red-and-black scarf to the killer's) go up to the villa, only to be ruthlessly killed too. One of the girls, Jane, sprains her ankle and a local doctor gives her a sedative; as such, she is asleep when the killer forces his way into the villa and kills her three girlfriends. Jane wakes up the next day only to silently witness the unidentified killer dismember her friends' bodies. Having disposed of the corpses, the killer locks up the villa and departs, inadvertently leaving the injured Jane trapped inside. Later on, having realized that Jane is alive in the villa, the killer silently returns and reveals himself to her.

The killer is Franz, an art history lecturer Jane had befriended. He is a psychopathic misogynist as a result of a childhood trauma when he witnessed his brother fall to his death as he was trying to fetch a little girl's doll at a cliff's edge. Franz tells Jane that his first two victims (whom he calls "filthy bitches" and "dolls made out of flesh and blood") had seduced him into a threesome and then blackmailed him. He had continued his killing spree in order to cover his tracks. As Franz proceeds to murder Jane to ensure he is never caught, the doctor shows up and, after a struggle, Franz falls to his death.



The film was released with its original title in Italy on January 4, 1973.[3] Joseph Brenner Associates later distributed a recut and rescored dubbed version as Torso in the US and the film became a success there on the drive-in and grindhouse circuits, often as a double feature with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).[4]

The film was released on DVD in the US by Anchor Bay Entertainment in 2000 and in the UK by Shameless in 2007. It has since had Blu-ray releases by Blue Underground in 2011, Shameless in 2017 and Arrow Video in 2018.[5]

Critical response

George Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette deemed the film "another display of softcore sex and seamy violence that might better have been kept abroad."[6] Joe Baltake of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote: "Blood flows freely and limbs detach easily, in Sergio Martino's Torso, a disagreeable Italian import withnot surprisinglylittle to recommend it."[7] The Los Angeles Times's Linda Gross wrote that the film was a "lazy suspense movie" with a "disjointed and loose" screenplay.[8]

The extended cat-and-mouse villa scenes between the killer and the final girl in the film's last 30 minutes have led to Torso being retrospectively recognised as a "proto-slasher film".[9] Quentin Tarantino showed his print of the film at the 1999 QT-Fest[10] and fellow filmmaker Eli Roth has cited the film among his favourite gialli and an influence on Grindhouse and Hostel: Part II (both 2007).[11]

PopMatters gave it a 7 out of 10 rating,[12] while Slant Magazine said it "pales next to director Sergio Martino's more inventive sleaze-thrillers (The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, All the Colors of the Dark)".[13]

See also


  1. Torso (booklet). Arrow Films. 2018. p. 3. AV171.
  2. "I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale (1972)". (in Italian). Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  3. Binion, Cavett. "Torso". Archived from the original on May 22, 2013. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  4. "Slash with panache?". Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  5. "DVDs of Torso are compared to the Blu-rays HERE". Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  6. Anderson, George (30 April 1973). "'And Now My Love' the Movie of the Month". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. p. 24 via
  7. Baltake, Joe (23 January 1975). "'Torso': Loose Limbs Fly". Philadelphia Daily News. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. p. 44 via
  8. Gross, Linda (20 June 1975). "'Torso'—a Lazy Suspense Movie". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. p. 14 via
  9. Bitel, Anton. "Discover the voyeuristic thrills of this gory '70s giallo". Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  10. "QT 3". Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  11. Phipps, Keith. "24 Hours Of Horror With Eli Roth". Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  12. Bill Gibron (28 July 2009). "Thrills, Italian Style: Torso (1973) and The 10th Victim (1965)". PopMatters. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  13. Fernando F. Croce (28 July 2009). "Torso". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
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