Torture Garden (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Freddie Francis|
|Produced by||Max Rosenberg
|Written by||Robert Bloch|
|Based on||short stories by Bloch, "Enoch", "The Man Who Collected Poe", "Terror Over Hollywood", "Mr Steinway"|
|Music by||Don Banks
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|November 10, 1967 (UK)
September 6, (USA)
Torture Garden is a 1967 British horror film made by Amicus Productions. It was directed by Freddie Francis and scripted by Robert Bloch. It stars Burgess Meredith, Jack Palance, Michael Ripper, Beverly Adams, Peter Cushing, Maurice Denham, Ursula Howells, Michael Bryant and Barbara Ewing. The score was a collaboration between Hammer horror regulars James Bernard and Don Banks.
It is one of producer Milton Subotsky's trademark "portmanteau" films, an omnibus of short stories linked by a single narrative.
Five people visit a fairground sideshow run by showman Dr. Diabolo (Burgess Meredith). Having shown them a handful of haunted house-style attractions, he promises them a genuinely scary experience if they will pay extra. Their curiosity gets the better of them, and the small crowd follows him behind a curtain, where they each view their fate through the shears of an effigy of the female deity Atropos (Clytie Jessop).
- In Enoch, a greedy playboy (Michael Bryant) takes advantage of his dying uncle (Maurice Denham), and falls under the spell of a man-eating cat.
- In Terror Over Hollywood, a Hollywood starlet (Beverly Adams) discovers her co-stars are androids.
- In Mr. Steinway, a possessed grand piano by the name of Euterpe becomes jealous of its owner (John Standing)'s new lover (Barbara Ewing) and takes revenge.
- In The Man Who Collected Poe, a Poe collector (Jack Palance) murders another collector (Peter Cushing) over a collectable he refuses to show him, only to find it is Edgar Allan Poe himself (Hedger Wallace).
In an epilogue, the fifth patron (Michael Ripper) goes berserk and uses the shears of Atropos to "kill" Dr. Diabolo in front of the others, causing them to panic and flee. It is then shown that he is working for Diabolo, and the whole thing was faked. As they congratulate each other for their acting, Palance's character also commends their performance, revealing he had not run off like the others. He shares a brief exchange with Diabolo and lights a cigarette for him, then leaves. Diabolo puts the shears back into the hand of Atropos, and breaks the fourth wall by addressing the audience, revealing himself to actually be the Devil as the movie ends.
- Jack Palance as Ronald Wyatt
- Burgess Meredith as Dr. Diabolo
- Beverly Adams as Carla Hayes
- Peter Cushing as Lancelot Canning
- Michael Bryant as Colin Williams
- Barbara Ewing as Dorothy Endicott
- John Standing as Leo
- John Phillips as Storm
- Michael Ripper as Gordon Roberts
- Bernard Kay as Dr. Heim
- Maurice Denham as Uncle Roger
- Ursula Howells as Miss Chambers
- David Bauer as Charles
- Niall MacGinnis as Doctor
The film was meant to star Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee but Columbia, who were providing the budget, wanted two American names, leading to Palance and Meredith's casting.
Allmovie's review of the film was mixed, writing, "Torture Garden lacks the strength and inventiveness to qualify as a top-tier horror anthology but it offers enough spooky thrills to qualify as a Saturday afternoon diversion."
- Ed. Allan Bryce, Amicus: The Studio That Dripped Blood, Stray Cat Publishing, 2000 p 50-55
- Donald Guarisco. "Torture Garden (1967)". Allmovie. Retrieved 6 July 2012.