Thursday, 5 May 2011

And Now The Screening Starts...(or...Hooked to the Silver Screen)

Torso (1973) dir. by Sergio Martino, starring Tina Aumont, Suzy Kendall, Luc Merenda,

This may be the perfect film.It has everything that you could ever want from a film. You don't believe me? How about these for a multiplicity of pretty persuaders...opportunistic lesbianism, a hippy orgy with flute and bongo freak-outs, a bit with a scarf. A black-gloved murderer in a mask. The crumbling gorgeousness of Rome (it may well be the eternal city but it's getting on a bit!), "positive" racism as a charming postcard from a simpler, more apalling age, ditto the dribbling village idiot. A fantastic score, great cinematography and sets and did I mention girls, girls, girls. And of course it wouldn't be an early seventies Giallo without a nonsensical title: who's torso? Or who is Torso? I remember that Adam Ant's dance troupe were called "Torso" - are they in some way implicated? (Incidentally don't go looking for help from the film's original Italian title. In Italy the film was known as "I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale" or "The bodies contained traces of carnal knowledge" which is typically innacurate. Of all the murderer's victims only the first could feasibly (I nearly wrote conceivably)"traces" and even then the...cough...traces wouldn't be the murderer's.)

And...about two thirds of the way through this campy schlock-fest something astonishing happens. As (unlikely teen student)Suzy Kendell is trapped alone in a villa with the killer (and THAT's what they should have called it!) this film turns into a stunningly effective and beautifully realised suspense thriller. A pair of shoes left on the stairs, a twisted ankle and a dropped key all add up to a tortuous twenty minutes of scrotum tightening tension*.

So the plot makes no sense. So the pseudo-Freudian motivation is not so much tacked on as grafted. So there is more significant eye-to-eye contact in this film than on Sergio Leone's show-reel. The last third of this film is as tense and convincing as anything in cinema.

And if the doctor didn't receive a "Best International Cardigan" gong there is no justice in this crazy world.

* If you have no scrotum to tighten why not try tightening a friend's?


  1. see, i've nothing against opportunistic lesbianism and girls, girls, girls in principle, but am not sure that this is the film for me. Maybe you can review a film that has ponies in it, and a man with sad eyes and a rangy frame, or one about a serial killer who had highly complicated murder rituals, but IS NOT a sexual sadist. Like, he does it because his calvinist granny raised him and often locked him in a cupboard because he was sinful, not for a 'dirty' reason...[ i am a dreadful prude, i know...See, i DO read this thing everyday. Terrifying picture, btw.

  2. See, I do tend to like both opportunistic lesbianism and girls, girls, girls but I know what you mean. These films do seemn to be of a piece. And I suppose if you're not interested in them there's little for you here. Not to worry - I have catholic tastes. I shall look at films featuring sad-eyed, rangey men who kill people in convoluted but morally justifiable ways.

    I will find this film for you Loretta. I shall move heaven and earth. Or just review Donkeyskin. There's no finer film than Donkeyskin. Fun for all ages, it's the MB Games of cinema.

  3. Grand. I enjoy reading about them all, even if i wouldn't necessarily watch them. Besides, for the man who introduced me to The Night of the Hunter, i can forgive a great deal. My sister and i still like to do a Pearl impersonation:
    " John hit daddy with a hairbrush" and: "You're just foolin'. My names Pearl". Voices like that just don't exist anymore. Sahll look up donkeyskin on IMDB...better not be porn...

  4. If Donkeyskin was would be the worst porn in the world. What an image!

    This Donkeyskin, my Donkeyskin, is a French musical from the early seventies starring Catherine Deneuve.

  5. oh. That story is done as part of the majestically concocted Jim Henson's 'The Storyteller', in a story called Sapsorrow. in that, Donkeyskin is called 'Straggletag'. god i loved that show. I would love to see Donkeyskin!

  6. Sapsorrow is a GOOD name. D and G missed a trick there. (still haven't got over Swanhilda!)