Tormented was Bert I. Gordons first venture into supernatural horror after the 1950s giant bug and person cycle began to dry up. The ghost story was, hard to believe, a relatively new concept in American cinema at the time, not having much in the way of a history. (Up until The Uninvited (1944), most American ghost stories were of the Old Dark House variety that always revealed what happened to be of mundane origins). Bert I. Gordons handling consists of crudely atmospheric pop-up effects Richard Carlson hearing gulls squawking his name; footprints appearing alongside his in the sand; the record made by Vi that keeps reappearing on the turntable after he takes it off and throws it away; he thinking he finds a body in the surf, which turns out to be a shape formed by seaweed; he throwing out what he thinks is Juli Redings talking head but it turning out to be a bowl of flowers. This reaches a rather funny point during the wedding scene where the doors of the church burst open, the flowers start wilting and the ministers Bible turns from the Wedding Ceremony to the Burial of the Dead. Bert I. Gordons direction is static and unimaginative throughout most of this it is important to note that Tormented exists on the level of crude pop-up effects rather than the generation of any atmosphere. Gordon does manage to create one reasonable scene young Susan Gordon (Gordons own nine year-old daughter) asks to see Richard Carlsons wedding ring, he puts it on her finger, only for her to insist that she doesnt have it a moment later and for Carlson to see that he has placed the ring on a phantom hand, which keeps trying to crawl out as he tries to prevent Susan from going underneath the piano to look for the ring.
Tormented is, when it comes down to it, a variant on an Edgar Allan Poe story like The Black Cat (1843) or The Tell-Tale Heart (1843) about a guilty murderer being supernaturally haunted by his conscience. The film arrives at a peculiarly touching ending where Richard Carlson and Juli Redings bodies are found washed up on the beach, wrapped around each other and with the missing wedding ring on her hand.
Bert I. Gordons other genre films are: King Dinosaur (1955), The Cyclops (1957), Beginning of the End (1957), The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), Attack of the Puppet People (1958), Earth vs the Spider (1958), War of the Colossal Beast (1958), the fantasy adventures The Boy and the Pirates (1960) and The Magic Sword (1962), Village of the Giants (1965), the psycho-thriller Picture Mommy Dead (1966), the occult film Necromancy (1972), The Mad Bomber (1973), The Food of the Gods (1976), Empire of the Ants (1977) and the witchcraft films The Coming/Burned at the Stake (1981) and Malediction/Satans Princess (1990), and Secrets of a Psychopath (2015).
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