EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|TORTURE GARDEN (director: Freddie Francis; screenwriter: Robert Bloch/based on the short stories by Robert Bloch; cinematographer: Norman Warwick; editor: Peter Elliott; music: Don Banks/James Bernard; cast: Burgess Meredith (Dr Diablo). Enoch: Michael Bryant (Colin Williams), Maurice Denham (Uncle Roger). Terror Over Hollywood: Beverly Adams (Carla Hayes), Robert Hutton (Bruce Benton), John Phillips (Eddie Storm), David Bauer (Mike Charles), Bernard Kay (Dr Helm). Mr Steinway: Barbara Ewing (Dorothy Endicott), John Standing (Leo). The Man Who Collected Poe: Jack Palance (Ronald Wyatt), Peter Cushing (Lancelot Canning); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Max J. Rosenberg/Milton Subotsky; Columbia; 1967-UK)|
uneven but overall effective horror portmanteau
that is ably directed by the London-born Freddie
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The second of Amicus's horror anthologies is an uneven but overall effective horror portmanteau that is ably directed by the London-born Freddie Francis ("The Psychopath"/"Nightmare"/"Dr Terror’s House of Horrors"), who is more skilled as a cameraman than a storyteller. Francis started out as a cinematographer and from 1955 to 1961 was considered the tops at his craft in Great Britain. Its title is misleading, since there is no torture or garden--the title was lifted from the 1900 novel by Octave Mirbeau. Renown pulp horror writer Robert Bloch (best known for his novel Psycho, used by Hitchcock) adapted to film four of his stories ("Enoch," "Terror over Hollywood," "Mr. Steinway," and "The Man Who Collected Poe"). The stories, in which only the last one isn't totally ridiculous, involve a telepathic killer cat, actors replaced by robot doubles, a jealous piano and, the best story is saved for last, about a manic Poe collector and an more manic one who has also managed to collect the spirit of Poe himself.
The framing device has Burgess Meredith as a sideshow carnival barker, really a Mephistophelean figure calling himself Dr. Diabolo, who claims that his torture exhibit can predict the future. Five patrons retreat to his back room and he offers them grisly glimpses of their fate and innermost desires. The film then segues into the telling of the four horror stories.
The Man Who Collected Poe
Francis changed the ending to the Poe story without telling the producers, but his ending left no motivation for the place burning up and so producer Subotsky wrote the ending we saw in the film that keeps in the fire and the motivation for the fire.
REVIEWED ON 10/31/2008 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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