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Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: ‘Tormented’

Halloween is creeping up, so it’s time for a ghost story. Shall we choose “The Haunting,” the unparalleled 1963 Julie Harris shiver-fest? No, we’re not even going to pick “Poltergeist.” Prepare instead to be “Tormented.”
“Tormented” (1960) was directed by Bert I. Gordon, otherwise known as “Mr. B.I.G.” for his propensity for making movies featuring BIG creatures, such as “The Amazing Colossal Man” or that Joan Collins masterpiece “Empire of the Ants.” Alas, many of Mr. B.I.G.’s special effects turned out to be not so special, and his lone ghost story proves no exception.
Jazz pianist Tom Stewart lives on an island next to an abandoned lighthouse. He’s soon to be married to perky Meg, but his pesky ex, Vi (yes, she is so sultry she needs only two letters in her name), pops in with plans to blackmail Tom to get him back. While they’re discussing the matter atop the lighthouse, a railing gives way and Vi takes a header off the lighthouse. Tom could have saved her but chose otherwise, and now Vi’s vengeful spirit comes back to torture him, manifesting itself as footprints in the sand, seaweed on Meg’s wedding dress and even a disembodied hand that scampers across the floor to steal the wedding ring. Not only is Vi powerful enough to wilt flowers at whim and cause an egg shortage on the island by creeping out the local hens, she even has her own theme song (called “Tormented,” of course — look for it on vinyl).
About two-thirds of the way through the film, a scummy beatnik appears. We know he is a beatnik because he calls everyone “dad,” and says things like “Vi owes me a fin.” Suspicious about Vi’s disappearance, he takes up where she left off and attempts to blackmail Tom, at first demanding a whole five bucks, and then, after further consideration, raising the bar to $5,000. Naturally Tom has to off him — a dark deed secretly witnessed by Meg’s kid sister, Sandy (played by Mr. B.I.G.’s real-life granddaughter).
Who will survive this tale of ghosts and greed? I actually love this movie — you have not lived until you see Vi’s sexy head appear on a coffee table screaming “Tom Stewart killed me” over and over. It’s necessary to get into the spirit of the thing. Gather your eggs while you can.

— Blaise Majkowski

Gazette page designer and B-movie aficionado

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