Dec 26, 2011
Producers: Bert I. Gordon, Joe Steinberg
Screenplay: George Worthing Yates, based on a story by Bert I. Gordon
Cinematographer: Ernest Laszlo
Music: Albert Glasser
Visual Effects: Bert I. Gordon, Flora Gordon
Allied Artists; 76 min; B&W
Richard Carlson (Tom Stewart), Susan Gordon (Sandy Hubbard), Lugene Sanders (Meg Hubbard), Juli Reding (Vi Mason), Joe Turkel (Nick, The Blackmailer), Lillian Adams (Mrs. Ellis), Gene Roth (Mr. Nelson)
Tom Stewart, a jazz pianist who lives and works in an island lighthouse, is about to be married to the wholesome Meg, but receives a visit from his old flame and former singer Vi, who isn't about to leave their relationship buried in the past. During an argument, a piece of lighthouse railing breaks free, and Vi hangs for dear life onto the twisted piece of steel. Tom purposely hesitates to save her before the metal gives way, and she falls to her death in the rocky shore below, thus ensuring that Vi is out of his new life for good. However, Tom finds out that the old phrase "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" also applies even in death.
I first saw Tormented on The Cat's Pajamas (pause- sigh) on their Sunday "Science Fiction Horror Night" program just before Christmas of 1985, shown with Roger Corman's The Wasp Woman (and found it to be far more inventive and creepy than the latter). In 2006, I programmed this film as part of the Creepy Kooky Double Bill screening in October of that year; surprisingly, it became the hit of the evening over the headliner- another Roger Corman film (Creature from the Haunted Sea). Even more surprisingly, despite that this little horror gem has been circulating in the public domain for years, no-one in that night's audience had yet seen it! It was a delight to see that this movie still worked with an audience.
Admittedly, I re-watched this movie the other night in memory of Susan Gordon, daughter of the director, who passed away this month. Yet, I was surprised to discover that I had remembered absolutely nothing of her substantial role as Sandy. (In truth, it is Joe Turkel's beatnik blackmailer who steals the picture performance-wise.) Instead, one more recalls this film for the visceral experience it produces- its atmosphere is conveyed through such subtleties as shadows, wind, cold, shredded garments. I must also confess that I have an affinity for suspense films which are set on shorelines (The Fog; Play Misty For Me)- something about the waves and the wind, plus the elements of forbidden desire that the milieu recalls, and perhaps I value this picture more than others do for these ingredients. As such, this movie benefits greatly from its atmosphere: its setting upon an island detached from the rest of the physical world adds to the feelings of despair and helplessness. However, there is a great visual touch that I've always remembered from my first viewing 26 years ago: in one sequence on the beach, we see a pair of footprints gradually appearing in the sand next to Tom.