For Halloween, I always see it as a nice tradition (if I’m not attending a party on the night) to watch some horror films.
This year I decided to take a chance on two contrasting films that I hadn’t seen before.
Here’s my thoughts on both.
Part of the Italian Giallo horror sub genre of the 70s and 80s, Torso goes right for the jugular with its over the top gore, but really impresses with its whodunnit storyline. Remember this is almost a decade before the slasher boom of the early 80s, and it is clear that while some have flashes of Halloween etc. smeared all over them, a lot of slashers took their style from the Giallos.
Set in Perugia, a series of murders of students take place, with the killer leaving a distinct calling card which includes strangling his victim with a scarf and slicing the body open at, you guessed it: the torso.
One of the consistent traits of the Giallos, which is present in Torso, is the fantastic angles that they employ when it comes to action scenes. Also the music is fantastic and so intense, especially during the chase/murder scenes as it really captures the atmosphere.
Torso was supposedly one of Eli Roth’s main inspirations behind Hostel II, but having seen both it is safe to say Roth’s effort is not in the same league as Torso.
When it comes to the kills there is also an element of creativity to some, with the most notable being a man crushed to death by a car up a wall.
If you already a fan of the Giallo films and haven’t seen Torso, it is certainly worth checking out.
The Changeling (1980)
The Changeling is a film I have been meaning to see forever. I have already umpteen reviews saying it is one of the scariest films of all time, so with endorsements like that I decided to give it a whirl last night.
It tells the story of John (George C. Scott) whose wife and child are killed in a freak accident within the first 5 minutes. He then decides to buy a huge mansion style house, and live out his days as a composer/lecturer in lonely solitude. This is until he starts to hear strange noises in the night, and starts to think maybe he is not alone in the house.
Remember this is 30 years before Paranormal Activity re-invented (to a point) the whole haunted house sub genre; but the most pleasing thing about The Changeling is that it sticks to good old fashioned no frills scares which really do get under your skin.
The fantastic use of shots, some reminiscent of Hitchhock is some cases with the aerial shots looking down on John to signify his impending doom. It turns out that he is just a pawn in a much bigger game, as a child who was killed over 80 years beforehand is now looking for revenge, and is using him to right the wrongs of yesteryear.
Before we find this out though, there are many scenes to chill your bones, including an intense seance where the spirit is revealed as the child. From here the film takes a further twist and becomes an investigative thriller, as John looks to find the remains of the child, and finally put his soul to rest.
Scott is fantastic in the lead role of John, as he looks to deal with the loss of his own child and wife whilst finding out of a heinous crime in his own home; talk about some bad luck. You can really feel the emotional connection, as he relates his own loss to that of the murder and looks for a suitable resolution.
A really fantastic, well thought out horror with plenty of spine. I am surprised it hasn’t featured on many best of lists over the years, just as a film never mind a horror film, a genuinely superb piece of cinema.