Torture Garden (1967)

Article #1291 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-26-2004
Posting Date: 2-23-2005
Directed by Freddie Francis
Featuring Jack Palance, Burgess Meredith, Beverly Adams

Five people take in a special exhibit at the Dr. Diabolo’s Torture Garden, where they confront their own personal horrors.

Amicus was the king of horror anthologies, but this is one of their more obscure entries in the field. Unfortunately, it is one of their weaker entries, due to the uneven quality of the stories. The first one (about a witch’s familiar who eats human heads) is all right, though it raises more questions than it answers and it flirts with silliness. The second one (about a woman trying to make it in Hollywood who discovers how actors stay so young) is just blah; neither the story nor the final twist is remarkable. The third one is the weakest; like TALES FROM THE CRYPT, I saw this one years ago, and also like TFTC, one memory stuck in my mind. Unfortunately, my memory is from this one, and it’s about a killer piano. Quite frankly, this one should have been done as a comedy.

Still that leaves us the fourth tale (about two men who collect Edgar Allan Poe memorabilia, one of whom has taken the hobby a step farther), which is easily the high point. It features a fine performance by Peter Cushing as well as a revelatory one by Jack Palance. In fact, I highly recommend this sequence to anyone who wants an example of Palance’s range; his character here is such a far cry from his usual type of role that it’s a shame he ended up somewhat typecast. Furthermore, the framing sequence of the movie is quite fun; Burgess Meredith is having a fun time, even if he does seem to be doing a repeat of his role as The Penguin at times. Overall, it’s a bit of a disappointment, but not without its high points.


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