Monday, April 21, 2014

The Black Torment (Redemption DVD)

Let's take a step back from The Black Torment and Redemption for a second. I need to put this release into a great, personal context and one with which a number of our readers might be familiar. Corruption was released in 1968, directed by Robert Hartford-Davis and starred Peter Cushing. In Corruption we follow a slow journey into eccentricity, madness and the reversal of fortune that even the best of intentions can visit on a warped mind. The film is filled with rebellious nuances, swingin' sounds of the 60's and a great big pile of hotties getting cut to ribbons. It's gratuitous and gorgeous.  Grindhouse Releasing dug up this gem and dished it out to us on Blu-ray providing an amazing package and a cavalcade of extras to enrich the feature. That makes The Black Torment sweeter to me. It is a new release and perhaps an even rarer find, not having the star power of Cushing or the sinister reputation that Corruption engenders. The Black Torment relies solely on it's eerie atmosphere to get it from start to finish. It's a movie to be savored. Four years after Torment's release Davis would show us the ungothic side of Peter Cushing. In 1964, Hartford-Davis delivers a tale of  mystery and madness but just on the cusp of true terror.

Synopsis from Redemption/Kino:

Returning to his country estate with his new bride, English nobleman Sir Richard Fordyce finds himself under suspicion from angry locals for the rape and brutal murder of a young girl. Despite Sir Richard's professed innocence, a growing hysteria unfolds, as strange and even supernatural events begin to occur around him.

With no one to turn to and his new wife threatening to shoot him, Sir Richard begins to question his own guilt... and sanity!


To be perfectly clear, The Black Torment is a slower film. It relies on heavy doses of darkness and true storytelling rather than flamboyant performances or exploitation devices. You have to pay attention and wait for the music to crescendo to figure out when you're going to a minor scare. It isn't in your face. It's isn't a tension, Hitchcockian masterpiece. It simply is a tale of confusion and detective work. Like one long, subtle haunted house ride. For the better part of the movie, you'll spend with hand on chin waiting for the madness to begin and in it's culmination find a great deal of satisfaction. They pay off is delicate. This is not Seven or a slam drunk or a pool clearing belly flop. The art of the haunt... thought  not a haunted house tale as such.

This Redemption disc comes out on DVD this time around, but looks very good. It's an HD Master from 35mm archival elements. The cover is exciting and warmly gothic. The disc itself contains one extra, but it's a good one, an interview with Robert Hartford-Davis from 1968 (the year Corruption was released if you're keeping track). AR: 1.66:1.

The Black Torment isn't as gratuitous as Hammer or as "to the point" as Amicus. It is distinctly British and might be in better company surround by Dead of Night though on the lighter side of terrifying, perhaps spook-worthy is a better term. Good for dark and stormy evenings. Perhaps a good fit with The Univited (one of my favorite spooky stories). It's a completely different movie from Corruption's gonzo mess-fest, but both features having something distinct to offer. If you prefer the haunts and the spookies, go for The Black Torment.

The Black Torment will be released April 29th. Order a copy now.

-Doc Terror

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