Torture Garden (1967)

torture garden poster 1967 movie
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 6/10

Good cast

No real great stories and no real bad stories

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Torture Garden

Studio:  Columbia Pictures Corporation

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  November 10, 1967 (UK)/September 6, 1968 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

torture garden cursed piano john standing barbara ewing

Nothing scarier than a jealous piano

Visitors to a carnival side show find the enigmatic Dr. Diabolo (Burges Meredith) could have a secret show that could be more terrifying than they ever expected.  Looking at the mythical shears of the Fate Atropos, Dorothy Endicott (Barbara Ewing), aspiring actress Carla Hayes (Beverly Adams), greedy nephew Colin Williams (Michael Bryant), and Poe collector Ronald Wyatt (Jack Palance) are about to see their future…and the horror it brings.

Directed by Freddie Francis, Torture Garden is a horror anthology film.  The four stories “Enoch”, “Terror Over Hollywood”, “Mr. Steinway”, and “The Man Who Collected Poe” were written by Robert Bloch.  The film was produced by Milton Subotsky who is known for producing anthology films and received moderate reviews.

torture garden beverly adams robert hutton john phillips

Everyone in Hollywood is plastic

I like anthology films and generally seek them out.  Torture Garden was on a collection of films including The Creeping Flesh (1973) and The Brotherhood of Satan (1971) and was a simple “find”.  Unfortunately, many anthology films seem to have more of a bite than Torture Garden which kind of lurches along.

The benefits of an anthology film are that the stories cancel each other out.  A good story might be followed by a bad story, or a bad story might be followed by a really good story.  In the end, the good stories hopefully outweigh the bad stories.  In Torture Garden, I feel that there is no real winner or loser.  None of the stories jumped out or were particularly memorable.  Their running lengths varied greatly and sometimes a story like the greedy nephew was too long while the “killer piano” seemed under cooked.  Probably the best story in the bunch is the Edgar Allan Poe story, but even that story wasn’t very satisfying despite the concept.

The film has a decent cast.  The movie was initially planned for a more English cast with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, but the film was “Americanized” by adding Burgess Meredith and Jack Palance (Cushing still appears in a supporting role in “The Man Who Collected Poe”).  The rest of the cast is solid, but the stories don’t give the actors much room for growth.

torture garden jack palance this is fine meme

This is Fine…

The film also suffers from a real lack of visuals.  The stories don’t really let the film be that unique.  As mentioned, “The Man Who Collected Poe” is probably the most interesting of the stories and the most visual with the idea of Poe as a prisoner in an underground bunker.  “Terror Over Hollywood” could have been interesting with the robot-esque movie stars (kind of a precursor to The Stepford Wives), but the robots’ bodies were never fully seen or explored.

Torture Garden is a weaker entry in the Milton Subotsky anthology film movies which included greats like Tales from the Crypt (1972) and Vault of Horror (1973).  It does remain a quick watch with a fun cast so it still is worth seeking out for fans of the genre.  With the format of online viewing and shows like Black Mirror taking off, I hope that the anthology film can live on…and the horror will reign supreme!

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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