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A b/w Bert I Gordon low-budget horror. I think the effects were laughable even in the year it was made. Plot is decent, but maybe not too original. Is he really being haunted, or is he crazy? Then the plot twist and ironic end.
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Richard, This Is Silly Stuff: Neither Good Enough to Be Good
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 06/29/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Although he was never an A-List star, Richard Carlson was much in demand during the 1950s, for he projected both masculinity and intellectualism in equal proportions. He also became something of a covert gay icon when he stepped out of the water wearing the form fitting bathing suit of the day in the memorable 1954 CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. As the 1950s wore on, Carlson found himself working more in television than in films, and the 1960 TORMENTED would be one of his few big screen efforts after 1959.
The film was based on a story from and directed by Bert I. Gordon, whose claim to fame up to this point were B-movies like THE BEGINNING OF THE END and EARTH VS. THE SPIDER; he would go on to create similar B-flicks with PICTURE MOMMIE DEAD and EMPIRE OF THE ANTS, spinning out quite a few films that have become late-night "So Bad It's Good" cult favorites. But unfortunately for every one concerned, TORMENTED is neither good enough to be good nor bad enough to be amusing.
The story concerns Tom Stewart (Richard Carlson), a jazz pianist with an impending performance at Carnegie Hall and and upcoming marriage to wealthy socialite Meg Hubbard (Lugene Sanders.) Alas, he also has a woman in his past: a singer named Vi (Juli Reding), and when our story begins she has come to raise hell about his impending marriage. For reasons never explained--there's a lot of "for reasons never explained" in this movie--they have met in an abandoned light house, and Tom doesn't put out a helping hand when Vi plunges to her death.
It's an interesting opener, but everything goes downhill from that point. Needless to say, Tom is soon tortured by the ghost of Vi, who appears in the form of transparent double exposures, a crawling hand on the living room floor, and even a disembodied head that suddenly turns into a very obvious wig stand when Tom decides to wrestle with it. Things go along pretty much as you would expect and the whole thing ends up just as you thought it would.
The story would be better described as a traditional ghost story with a lyric bent than as a horror movie per se, and the concept isn't without interest--but it doesn't do anything with it. The cast is above average for this sort film, and fans of Carlson will be glad to see him back in his swimsuit once more, even if the years since CREATURE have taken a toll. But although Carlson and company give it their all--it just doesn't go anywhere worth the effort. There are some truly hilarious moments (the head-wrestling a case in point) and a few "what were they thinking" moments (most particularly a blind real estate agent, of all things), but they aren't enough to tip the thing over into So Bad It's Good territory. To add insult to injury, the print is none too good--but then, given the low budget, it probably never was very good to begin with.
Fans of Richard Carlson will find it worth watching at least once, as will fans of director Bert I. Gordon--but for most people once will be enough.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer"
A terrifying tale of supernatural passion? No, not really.
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 02/12/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The most interesting thing about "Tormented" (by the Sea-Ghost of Haunted Island) is that this 1960 horror B-movie wants to have it both ways and combine the supernatural with the psychological. On an island off the coast of New England, jazz pianist Tom Stewart (Richard Carlson from "It Came From Outer Space" and "Creature from the Black Lagoon") is preparing to get married. But his old girl friend, Vi Mason (Juli Reding), shows up refusing to let him go. They have their conversation at the top of an abandoned lighthouse and when the rail gives way, Vi is left dangling over the rocks at the bottom of the cliff. Tom fails to act and Vi falls to her death. This would seem to solve Tom's problem, but then strange things happen. Tom thinks he sees Vi's body floating in the ocean, but when he brings it to shore it turns out to be a bunch of seaweed. Is Tom's guilt gnawing away at him? It seems so, but then while walking back across the beach we see another set of footprints following him even though there is nobody there.
As the wedding day to Meg Hubbard (Lugene Sanders) approaches, more strange things keep happening to Tom. Some of them could be the work of Tom's imagination, and maybe he is thinking he is just going a bit crazy, but then Mrs. Ellis (Lillian Adams), the blind housekeeper (yes, really), says she can smell Vi's perfume and even little Sandy Hubbard (Susan Gordon, the director's daughter), Meg's little sister, starts seeing things she should not be seeing. Tom wants to ignore the ghostly apparitions and disembodied body parts, but he also has to contend with the shifty Nick (Joe Turkel), who brought Vi over to the island. She owes him $5 but is nowhere to be seen. Since Tom is really nervous about the subject, Nick figures there is something going on and puts the squeeze on the bridegroom. This can only end badly and if you do not know how Tom is going to die in this one then you have no grasp of the obvious.
None of the performances are laughable and Carlson certainly tries hard in this one, but when you get to the disembodied head scene you are going to start laughing because you will not be able to help it, especially when Tom picks up the "head." The dead Vi, reaching out from beyond her watery grave to take her vengeance on Tom, is more interesting than the living Meg, so it is hard not to be sympathetic with the ghost. But there are some nice atmospheric moments despite the problematic special effects, and Susan Gordon avoids becoming one of those unbearably cute kids and at least she appreciates the seriousness of the situation. Then there is the ending, which actually provides a nice little ghost story twist, even if the execution of the scene tends towards the melodramatic. That is why "Tormented" is one of those B-movies where the bad parts are often more entertaining than the good parts.
In case you did not notice up front, "Tormented" is directed by Bert I. Gordon, who also gets credit for the story, with a script is by George Worthing Yates. This is the same Bert I. Gordon who brought us "King Dinosaur," "Beginning of the End," "The Cyclops," "The Amazing Colossal Man," "Attack of the Puppet People," "War of the Colossal Beast," "Earth vs. the Spider" (a.k.a. "Earth vs. the Giant Spider"), and "The Boy and the Pirates" before he made "Tormented." After Roger Corman the man called B.I.G. was one of the most distinctive makers of monster B-movies in the late 1950s, working with his wife, Flora, to create the not-so-special special effects, usually for American International Pictures. "Tormented" is one of his more intimate efforts, but it still shows the distinctive B.I.G. touch."
VI A CON DIOS
Michael Butts | Martinsburg, WV USA | 03/20/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"B movie maven Bert I. Gordon brought us TORMENTED in the early sixties, not long after the prime psychological thriller PSYCHO filled audience's hearts with a new kind of fear---not monsters, but monsters within us. In TORMENTED, Richard Carlson mugs his way through the role of jazz pianist Tom Stewart, who tells his latest mistress (played by the bosomy Juli Reding) that their affair is over and he is planning on marrying the wealthy daughter of a corporate giant. She taunts him and in an accident at the lighthouse, she falls to her death. Tom could have saved her, but he lets her die. The movie grows a little tedious as we wonder if Tom's guilty conscience is getting the better of him, or is the ghost of Vi walking the beaches? The special effects are appropriately laughable and the ending is telegraphed from the moment Vi falls to her death, but for a psychological B movie ala DEMENTIA 13, TORMENTED is fairly enjoyable."
One of the better Bs
nom-de-nick | United States | 11/23/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
". As a true horror flick, you can definitely do worse than this. The acting ranges from average to bad (there's a big shock, right?), the special effects are pretty cheesy, the plot is fairly lame, the direction equally so, the screenplay fairly trite -- in other words, all the necessary ingredients for a great B-horror movie experience. And despite it all, there are a few moments here when you'll definitely feel the hairs at the back of your neck bristle. This is great for an evening of 1-2 equally bad/good flicks, some popcorn and maybe a beer or two. For this price, there's no way to go wrong."
Interesting, but scares aren't effective enough.
R. Christenson | Pine, CO USA | 09/12/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Tormented is one of the more interesting of the old black and white horror movies, though not one of the scariest.
Richard Carlson (It Came From Outer Space, Riders To The Stars) is planning to get married on a small island, but his old girlfriend confronts him in the lighthouse, threatening to spoil his new relationship, insisting she still wants him. When the railing breaks and she falls, he has a chance to save her life and pull her back up, but sees a chance to solve his problem and lets her fall to her death in the ocean below.
Throughout the rest of the movie the ghost of the woman haunts him - you see her footprints in the sand, her disembodied hand and then head - while he tries to go through with his wedding. But that's not all - the plot takes some interesting turns as the sailor who brought the old girlfriend to the island schemes blackmail, then the ghost taunts Carlson into murdering him, but his fiancee's sweet little sister is watching.
Unfortunately to me the ghostly gimmicks weren't scary. Perhaps I've seen too many more effective horror movies. But the story was interesting anyway."