Tormented 2003 Horror Movie Review
Horror movies Review
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