Horrorfest 2017 Presents: The Black Torment (1964, Robert Hartford -Davis )


Made during the height of Hammer Studios The Black Torment feels like a lost film from them, and it has some of the grace notes of Hammer films. One thing I enjoy about the 1960s is the number of period horror films, many of them well done and entertaining. The Black Torment has ghosts, a sword fight, class issues and some good creepy scenes. The main cast is full of people I did not recognize, yet I felt that added a degree of intrigue to the movie, since I would not be able to guess what happened next.

One of the film’s highlights is Sir Richard Fordyke (John Turner) riding after a ghost! Who then manages to chase after him, in eerie and suspenseful fashion. The movie’s gothic horror aspects are its strongest features, and overcome some weak melodrama early on in the film. Heather Sears as Lady Elizabeth is excellently cast as Richard’s wife, and she more than holds her own in the film.

Plus there is a staircase scene that reminded me of The Shining, which makes me wonder if Stanley Kubrick got the inspiration for one of his film’s most infamous moments from The Black Torment. Every Horrorfest I uncover a hidden old gem, and I eagerly recommend this film to everyone looking for solid entertainment.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: The Lords of Salem (2012, Rob Zombie)


After witnessing a bunch of old witches having a huge devil worshiping orgy in the middle of the woods many things will seem tame after wards. In this case though the film The Lords of Salem decides to up the level of insanity after a slow buildup that establishes the main characters. Rob Zombie effectively channels Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Roman Polanski, and even Stanley Kubrick while managing to make a slightly better and frightening woman targeted by satanists movie than Ti West did with The House of the Devil. I’m impressed, to say the least, although I’ve only viewed his two Halloween films. I much prefer his latest over each of them, and I do plan to go backwards and view his first two movies. Say what you will about his music but Zombie has a knack for camera placement, haunting visuals, and fairly good plots. The problem with the two movies I mentioned have been more of the acting and dialogue variety, coupled with H2 ending up being way too concerned with overly extreme and pointless violence instead of its far more interesting psychological center.

Lords of Salem however lacks most of the issues that plagued his previous works, and has some rather starkly wonderful and creepy moments. Such as the eerie hallway moments, or the inside of Heidi, the main protagonist’s, apartment-there is only dim light in there, and it has the feel and look of a tomb. With a great big amazing poster from the classic A Trip To The Moon inside, also. I read that the moon is involved with fertility, and that makes sense because poor Hedi’s seemingly nice landlord may not be who she actually is. Spooky. Of course we are also left with the possibility that all of Heidi’s troubles are the result of her struggling to stay clean from drugs, which only adds to the dark proceedings. Oh they are dark indeed, bleak and terrifying nightmares that plague Heidi and cause her to question reality. Its bad enough when you are facing normal problems, yet suffering from possible hallucinations is even worse.

The rest of the film continues to unfold in a suffocating atmospheric manner, growing more and more odd and entering further into the world of the bizarre. Mysteries are answered only resulting in new questions, and by the film’s last act the final connections to reality are completely severed. Rob Zombie has given us a freaky new horror film, an experience in terror that is bold, well crafted, and different. By the time the end credits rolled I was almost glad that the film had ended only so that I could witness something happy to cleanse my thoughts. However the images still lingered on long after the screen had faded to black.

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