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Torso

Year: 1973
Production Co: Compagnia Cinematografica
Director: Sergio Martino
Writer: Ernesto Gastaldi/Sergio Martino
Cast: Suzy Kendall/Tina Aumont

Torso (released elsewhere outside its native Italy as Carnal Violence) feels like it came from an acolyte of Dario Argento without quite as much of a fetish for fake studio blood. Despite the movie being obsessed with tits the killer doesn't use a scalpel or cutthroat razor, he uses... a scarf.

But it has all the giallo trappings you know; free spirited young women in 1970s Italy, a picturesque locale in the Italian city of Perugia, enough sex to qualify as a mild erotic thriller and a fascination with tormenting and killing attractive young women – as obvious a Catholic guilt metaphor about hating what you're not supposed to want and can't have as anything Argento crafted in his day.

It deals with a serial killer preying on young lovers near a university campus by strangling them with his signature scarf. When one of the group of friends affected by the case recognises the scarf shown to them by the police as being the same one worn by the creepy boy who's always trying to ask her out, she's convinced she's found the killer.

But more bodies start piling up, and it dosn't stop even after four of the girls drive to a villa in the country to get away from all the craziness. It's structured like a muder mystery with a twist ending that reveals the true killer, but it's very much dressed up like the garish sex crime thrillers that came out of the movement.

There's a mysterious framing device that reveals how the killer came to be that doesn't really add anything to the story, and a psychadelic opening sequence about naked women, broken dolls and photography that makes it all seem ranchier than it actually turns out.

But although it's pretty tame nowadays, the intentions of director Sergio Martino are pretty clear. There's a sex scene in a car when the killer first strikes, a lesbian coupling between two of the girls at the villa, and the pervy Uncle of another of the heroines who (for no reason that's ever referred to again in the plot) almost walks in on her getting dressed and stares leerily through a crack in the door for a second before she realises.

And yes, that's illusionist to the stars David Copperfield as a local hood in the town near the villa.

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