Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Tormented (1960)

Tom Stewart, once a prowling bachelor, is settling down with his fiancee Meg. Unhappy however is his old flame Vi, who wants Tom all for herself. And if she can't have him, no-one can, and she'll release compromising letters. Tom confronts her on a rickety lighthouse, and Vi gets too close to the edge and falls. Hanging by a thread, she begs Tom to save her, but he lets her fall, and pretends nothing ever happened. This soon becomes increasingly difficult when he starts having visions and visitations from a ghostly Vi, still intent on = all to herself...

Noted B-movie directer Bert I Gordon is very well known for his giant monster pictures. From The Amazing Colossal Man and its sequel, to other 'gems' like King Dinosaur, or The Giant Spider Invasion, he definitely built himself a niche. That's what make 1960 film Tormented so unique-It's a down-to-Earth ghost story!

Tormented is an effective little film. Confined to a relatively small island and set of locations, and a well-crafted cast, it's not a complex film, in a good way, setting out to tell what it wants effectively. The story is never boring, paced well and always keeping you on your toes.

There's an abundance of scares here, and they're very well realised. Some are subtle, such as a met set of footprints appearing from nowhere while = walks on the beach, or the record scene. Some are much louder, such as the attack of the disembodied head, where Vi yells "TOM STEWART KILLED ME!". Lucky him he's the only one who could hear her then]! The weirdest scene by far is the wedding, and I was confused by how much was actually happening and how much of this acid trip was all in Tom's head. That's all I'll say, and there's plenty more to surprise you as you watch!

The protagonist Tom is interestingly the real villain. While not a murderer technically, he still let someone die, and it's interesting getting a look into his psyche, and how he justifies his actions, as well as how quickly his so-called principles break down under pressure.

The ethereal Vi is neat too, teetering between sympathetic woman done wrong, and psycho ghost! It's clear that while she may have been a victim, she either had her own nasty streak, or acquired one in the afterlife. Being murdered does tend to piss you off I guess.

Fiancee Meg is nice enough, though isn't hugely interesting. Her young sister Sandy on the other hand is simply adorable! She's so much fun, and does well with serious moments too. It's great when the comic relief is able to effectively add/contribute to the emotional/dramatic moments.  The blind housekeeper/landlady (two things I imagine being blind would hold you back from excelling at!) is pretty cool. She's perceptive and wise.

The remainder of the cast are fine, from a woefully unhip blackmailer (who's really intent on claiming his $5 bucks! I get inflation is a thing, but man, cut your losses!), to Meg's parents. Her father in particular is a dick! ====.

{The plot to Tormented moves along very well, with the characters }

The effects here are neat! It's a more subtle affair than the likes of The Amazing Colossal Man, but there are still some = here. The ghostly Vi is well realised, never looking unconvincing. The disembodied head effect is simultaneously effective in part and amusing, with an obvious mannequin head in some shots.

The music in Tormented also plays a big part. There are many spooky tracks playing, creating an eerie feel. Between the story, imagery, and the music, this film sure lives up to its title!

Tormented is a really neat film, and shows that for all his goofiness at times, Bert I Gordon was a talented filmmaker, and even f you gave him a little, he'd still give back a lot! This is an effective ghost story with enough spooks and laughter to keep you entertained...

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