Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Freddie Francis|
|Produced by||Max Rosenberg
|Written by||Robert Bloch|
|Based on||short stories by Bloch, "Enoch", "The Man Who Collected Poe", "Terror Over Hollywood", "Mr Steinway"|
|Music by||Don Banks
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|November 10, 1967 (UK)
September 6, (USA)
Torture Garden is a 1967 British horror film made by Amicus Productions. It was directed by Freddie Francis and scripted by Robert Bloch. It stars Burgess Meredith, Jack Palance, Michael Ripper, Beverly Adams, Peter Cushing, Maurice Denham, Ursula Howells, Michael Bryant and Barbara Ewing. The score was a collaboration between Hammer horror regulars James Bernard and Don Banks.
It is one of producer Milton Subotsky's trademark "portmanteau" films, an omnibus of short stories linked by a single narrative.
Five people visit a fairground sideshow run by showman Dr. Diabolo (Burgess Meredith). Having shown them a handful of haunted house-style attractions, he promises them a genuinely scary experience if they will pay extra. Their curiosity gets the better of them, and the small crowd follows him behind a curtain, where they each view their fate through the shears of an effigy of the female deity Atropos (Clytie Jessop).
In an epilogue, the fifth patron (Michael Ripper) goes berserk and uses the shears of Atropos to "kill" Dr. Diabolo in front of the others, causing them to panic and flee. It is then shown that he is working for Diabolo, and the whole thing was faked. As they congratulate each other for their acting, Palance's character also commends their performance, revealing he had not run off like the others. He shares a brief exchange with Diabolo and lights a cigarette for him, then leaves. Diabolo puts the shears back into the hand of Atropos, and breaks the fourth wall by addressing the audience, revealing himself to actually be the Devil as the movie ends.
The film was meant to star Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee but Columbia, who were providing the budget, wanted two American names, leading to Palance and Meredith's casting.
Allmovie's review of the film was mixed, writing, "Torture Garden lacks the strength and inventiveness to qualify as a top-tier horror anthology but it offers enough spooky thrills to qualify as a Saturday afternoon diversion."