A 17th-century aristocrat called Sir Richard Fordyke (JOHN TURNER) returns to his country estate in Devon with his new bride Elizabeth (HEATHER SEARS). But all is not well because people including his horseman Black John (FRANCIS DE WOLFE) are shunning him. Fordyke soon discovers from his accountant Seymour (PETER ARNE) that a farm girl called Lucy Judd (EDINA RONAY) was raped and murdered in the woods and that just before she died she named Fordyke as the culprit. This is impossible because Fordyke had been in London for the past three months and the superstitious locals are inevitably spreading rumours of witchcraft and devilry. Three years ago, Fordyke's first wife Anne committed suicide by throwing herself out of a top floor window and the locals claim that they have seen him on horseback at night (while he was supposedly away) being chased by a ghostly woman dressed in white uttering cries of "murderer". They believe the woman to be the ghost of Anne as her voice resembles the deceased. This sparks off a number of supernatural happenings. For instance, a new horse saddle arrives for Sir Richard with Anne's name engraved on it and the maker insists that Fordyke came into his shop and ordered it personally. Meanwhile, Fordyke begins to see the alleged ghost of his late wife prowling the grounds at night. Two more murders follow and Elizabeth and Fordyke must find out the truth behind the sinister goings-on before disastrous consequences could ruin their lives...
THE BLACK TORMENT is one of the most striking British horror films ever made. Robert-Hartford-Davies (in my opinion) is an unfairly maligned director. It is true that he was often lumbered with inferior films, but this is quite a literate little film and he recreates the 17th-century period with great delicacy. Another work of note from this director is INCENCE FOR THE DAMNED (1972: aka BLOODSUCKERS), this was a promising adaptation of a vampire novel by Simon Raven. Alas, the picture was marred by production problems and Davies had his name removed from it and was credited as Michael Burrowes. When you watch that film you can see some of the scars from those troubles, but there really was an intelligent movie itching to get out there. In THE BLACK TORMENT, the setting of the story by Donald and Derek Ford (they penned the spirited Holmes vs the Ripper yarn A STUDY IN TERROR) beautifully suits the Gothic overtones of the picture and the costumes and set-work are exemplary, while the music of Robert Richards is also sympathetic to the proceedings. The film may be set back by some occasionally laughably over-the-top acting that you'd like to laugh, but it contains some of the most striking Gothic visuals that rival producers Hammer and Amicus could never quite recreate and this is more than enough compensation for any flaws it might suffer from. Peter Newbrook's subtle lighting contains sinister moonlight blues with evil yellow candles flickering in the background as the tortured Elizabeth confronts the madman at the climax and every still of Newbrook's could be hung up on the wall of every any gallery! There is another splendidly Gothic sequence which stands out in the memory when Fordyke is pursued through the moonlit forest by the ghostly Anne (who looks truly supernatural in a shiny white dress) crying "murderer". Hartford-Davies's choice of gaudy camera-work and fuzzy echoing sound ensured that the audience of 1965 was well and truly kept on the edge of their seats.
The Black Torment
Horror / Mystery
The Black Torment
Horror / Mystery
A lord returns to his manor with his new wife, to hear rumors that he had already secretly returned and had committed several murders. Has he lost his mind, or is something dark afoot?
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
September 26, 2021 at 05:49 AM