Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 26, 2018


Heather Sears and John Turner
THE BLACK TORMENT (1964). Director: Robert Hartford-Davis.

Sir Richard Fordyke (John Turner) returns to his ancestral manor in Olde England and brings with him his new bride, Elizabeth (Heather Sears of The Phantom of the Opera). Right away things seem odd, with his tenants, other villagers, and even his staff behaving peculiarly towards him. His major domo, Seymour (Peter Arne of Tarzan and the Lost Safari), tells him that a woman was raped and murdered and cried out his name before she expired, and he has been -- impossibly -- sighted in the village on other occasions, supposedly pursued by the ghost of his first wife, who plunged from a window. Before long Richard begins doubting his own sanity or wonders if some demonic doppelganger is at work ... Although the denouement is fairly predictable, The Black Torment still manages to work up considerable suspense over this situation, and the pic is greatly bolstered by some excellent performances. I first noticed John Turner when he had a small role as a fisherman in one of my favorite monster movies, The Giant Behemoth, but he clearly shows in this that he was meant for greater things, and judging by his talent, should be much better known today. He is outstanding and completely convincing as Sir Richard no matter what the script throws at him during the films' twists and turns. Under Robert Hartford-Davis' adroit direction, Black Torment has some creepy and startling sequences, and is handsomely produced in the full-out Gothic manner. When it's over and all revelations revealed, you may scratch your head when you realize the sheer impossibility of some of the aspects of the story, but Black Torment is still an entertaining horror flick, one which, -- incredibly -- I had never heard of and discovered on Kanopy.  Interesting score by Robert Richards. Hartford-Davis also directed the zesty Corruption.

Verdict: Compelling lead performance and attractive settings lift this above the average. ***. 

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