Sunday, November 6, 2011

I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale (1973)

... aka: Bodies Bear Traces of Carnal Violence, The
... aka: Carnal Violence
... aka: Torso
... aka: Torso - Carnal Violence

Directed by:
Sergio Martino

With such good efforts as THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH (1971), ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK (1972) and YOUR VICE IS A LOCKED ROOM AND ONLY I HAVE THE KEY (1972) already behind him, this is something of a disappointment for director Martino. And yet strangely enough, it's probably his most popular horror film; perhaps because it received better circulation than his others over the years (possibly due to the fact it starred then-popular British actress / sex symbol Suzy Kendall), or perhaps because it's more of a standard slasher flick than his previous giallo. Either way, it's nothing to write home about. After appearing in some kind of lesbian porn photography session, one of the stars, university student Florence (Patricia Adiutori), is strangled to death with a red-and-black silk scarf and then gets her torso sliced open. The killer (who wears a ski mask) also slashes her boyfriend's throat and has visions of a child's hand slowly reaching for a doll. Next up is Carol (Cristina Airoldi), the other woman who appeared in the photos and also a student. She accompanies two guys to some kind of hippie-drug party, smokes weed and burns one of the guys with a lit cigarette for feeling her up. Deciding to leave early, she encounters the masked psycho while walking through a muddy forest, who repeats the strangulation / defilement of the corpse routine on her; taking it one step further by poking out her eyeballs with his fingers.

A handful of Flo and Carol's other classmates, all of whom are taking an art course taught by Professor Franz (John Richardson), also become targeted for one reason or another. Daniela (Tina Aumont) remembers seeing someone wearing the same style of scarf that was used to kill the previous two women, but can't quite remember who was wearing it. When the killer catches wind of this, he calls Dani at home and threatens to kill her. Immediately after, her uncle (Carlo Alighiero) flatly states, "Try and control yourself my dear. Find some way of getting your mind off it all." Hey pops, just seconds ago a psycho who has just murdered two of my friends revealed that he knows who I am, knows where I live and has just told me that I'm next... Calm down, my ass! Her uncle suggests she split town for awhile and go to their isolated villa; a huge and hard-to-access mansion located on top of a mountain overlooking a small village. Just the kind of place you want to be when there's a nutjob stalking you, right? Daniela invites three of her girlfriends; American transfer student Jane (Kendall) and lesbians Katia (Angela Covello) and Ursula (Carla Brait), to accompany her. Soon after they leave, the vendor (Ernesto Colli) who sold the killer his scarves has his head smashed again the side of a building by a car. It's the killer trying to cover his tracks, and now the last track he has to cover is Daniela.

Nearly all of the leering male characters from the city, whom the director has tried to set up as possible suspects at various points in the film, show up in the village to reaffirm their status as red herrings. The primary two are Roberto (Luc Merenda), a handsome doctor spotted both around town and on the girls' train trip over to the village, and Stefano (Roberto Bisacco), a student. The director really tries to shine the spotlight on Stefano's weirdness in particular. He's frequently seen sitting in his car staring at the girls, is obsessively in love with Daniela (who wants nothing to do with him) and can't perform for a prostitute so he starts strangling her after she suggests popping in a Swedish porno to help him along. Stefano is painted as so weird throughout that you pretty much know it's not him doing the actual killings. Martino does what most other filmmakers in this style do by randomly pulling the psycho out of the giallo playbook i.e. making it a seemingly incidental side character with minimal screen time until the big 'reveal.' Said reveal actually doesn't have any kind of and giving them a silly motive stretching back to a traumatic moment in their youth.

Aside from many beautiful actresses on hand and an abundance of nudity (though top-billed Kendall and Aumont get to leave their clothes on), the best moments here occur about thirty minutes before the actual finale. Our heroine Jane, who has injured her leg after falling down the stairs, finds herself alone in the villa with the killer. The catch is that the killer doesn't know she's there. While hiding just feet from the corpses of her friends, Jane has to watch as each gets dismembered with a hacksaw. She then goes upstairs, tries to quickly and quietly make it look like her room hasn't been used and finds herself getting locked inside the room. But never fear, town gossip leads the killer back to the villa to try to cover his tracks... once again. These scenes are fairly suspenseful and well-done but they aren't enough to make up for the rest, which is pretty lackluster in both story and style. The last ten or so minutes pretty much suck, too.

I often see Torso cited as being a chief influence on the late 70s / early 80s slasher movie cycle, and find that a bit of an exaggeration. As a singular entity, it's no more influential than most in its sub-category. And it certainly didn't have the impact of films such as BAY OF BLOOD (1971), BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974) or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).


1 comment:

Bill Dan Courtney said...

hey thanks for the comment over The Uranium cafe about In a Lonely Place. Lately I have been burned out and not checking other blogs as often as I sued to and I need to fix that. So many good blogs out there now writing about cool and often forgotten movies, the ones we both seem to like. You do a lot of European films, like this one. I weak in this department and will refer back here for an education. In fact I think I just got this one in, last month, at The Horror Charnel, a download site. Have to double check.

Thanks again


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...