DVD Review: The Black Torment
The Black Torment (1964)
Theatrical Release Date: July 14, 2009
Directed By: Robert Hartford-Davis
Cast: John Turner, Heather Sears, Ann Lynn, Peter Arne & Norman Bird
Review By: Annie Riordan
Anyone remember those cheap paperback Gothic romances that were so popular back in the 60s and 70s? The hand painted cover art almost always featured a terrified looking young woman running through a dark forest, glancing back in horror at a spooky old castle in the distance whilst her lacy ball gown threatens to slip even further down her creamy shoulders and expose her ample bosom. Gotta love that shit.
1964’s The Black Torment is a bodice-ripper come to life, complete with horse drawn carriages, lusty wenches and long buried family secrets. Brought to us by the production team of Klinger and Tenser – the same yabbos who brought us The Projected Man, a turd of a sci-fi flick which rightfully ended up on MST3K – The Black Torment really is a forgotten gem of a movie, similar in story and tone to films such as The Shuttered Room, 1961’s The Pit and the Pendulum and Rebecca.
It’s been four years since Sir Richard Fordyce lost his lovely wife Ann to madness and suicide. Now he’s returning to his grandiose country estate with his new wife, Lady Elizabeth, with whom he plans to live happily ever after and have lots of babies to carry on the noble family name. But Sir Richard receives a confusingly cool reception from his lifelong friends and formerly loyal staff.
Despite Richard’s claims that he’s spent the last four years in London, the residents of Fordyce claim to have seen him late at night, riding his horse at a breakneck speed with the pale specter of his first wife hot on his heels, crying “Murderer!” When several village girls turn up brutally violated and strangled to death, Richard is suspected of the crimes. Only his new wife stands stolidly beside him as the mystery deepens. Is Sir Richard a mad killer? Or is he being plotted against by his own family? The meticulously kept family Bible may hold a clue, but it’s gone missing. What is the terrible family secret that Richard must not know?
It’s not too terribly difficult to discern the goodies from the baddies here, and the whole thing is a tad on the slow side. But Black Torment makes up for in atmosphere what it may lack in pacing. It’s a gorgeous Gothic mystery, perfect for a rainy night and highly recommended to fans of Corman’s and Hammer’s vintage costume dramas.
Brutal As Hell Rating:
3 out of 5