Torture Zone Reviews

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April 26, 2010
22/100. A dreadful horror film, the extremely low budget makes it almost unbearable to watch. It is tough to see Boris Karloff stooping so low. The plot often makes no sense, poorly dubbed and the plot is absurd.
½ March 3, 2005
1968's [i]Targets[/i] would have been a great final film for Boris Karloff. In it, Karloff plays an aging horror film star convinced to do one last appearance at a drive-in movie theater, which he does on the night that a Charles Whitman-esque killer opens fire on the place. The Bogdonovich film is the perfect bridge between the golden age of horror and a new age of real-life, non-supernatural terror and one that gives Karloff a perfect capper for his career.

Sadly, [i]Targets[/i] was not Karloff's final film. He followed it with four films made in Mexico and then awkwardly tied together with new footage shot by Jack Hill, all of which have about a half-dozen different titles. One of these was 1968's [i]Fear Chamber[/i].

The makers of [i]Fear Chamber[/i] aka [i]Chamber of Fear[/i] aka [i]The Torture Chamber[/i] aka [i]Torture Zone[/i] claim that their film is based on the the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Now, I can only assume that is this, to say the least, a complete fucking lie. I can't say as I've read every Poe story, but if anyone out there can find me one in which a stripper is hired by mad scientists to perform for a large, tentacled rock from the center of the earth, let me know. I will consider myself "wrong."

Karloff plays Dr. Mandel, a scientist determined to find life in the center of the earth, though he spends most of his time in bed. (Karloff's health was poor at the time.) His daughter (Mexican actress Julissa, also in two of the other Mexikarloff films) and his assistant/her love interest do most of the work, digging up a large rock that, they soon find out, has tentacles that entrap people in bizarre dream sequences and.. um.. eat them or something.

Look, doing a plot description for this thing is next to impossible, because I can barely make any sense at all out of it. The "leads" spend much of the time out of the movie (who can blame 'em?) in place of a female scientist and her mongloid assistant Roland, who keeps screaming about diamonds. (Sample dialogue: "Diamonds! Diamonds! I love diamonds!" I'm not exaggerating. It's an amazing, one-note performance of such stupidity that Ed Wood would be proud.) These are the pair that hire the aforementioned stripper, who seems not the least bit shocked that her performance will be watched solely by a large rock.

Once you get past the point where you consider following the plot in any way (this should take about ten minutes), there's a lot of low-rent psychotronic fun to be had in [i]Fear Chamber[/i], however. The colors are loud and garish, and everything is lit like a psychedelic dream sequence, with the entire lighting of the room changing from shot to shot. In some cases, it is actually a psychedelic dream sequence, which is virtually indistinguishable from the actual plot. Girls get kidnapped, whipped and beaten, and then presumably eaten, but it's so incompetent that it feels more fun than lurid.

Okay, so it's sad to see Karloff ending his career in such a dire, senseless piece of drivel, but at least it's a colorful and energetically bad dire, senseless piece of drivel. The performance of Roland alone is worth a look, and he certainly joins [i]Manos Hands of Fate's[/i] Torgo in the ranks of preposterous henchmen. Mind-numbingly idiotic if you take it at face value, but invite some friends over, grab a few six-packs or other sundry toxins, and you could do a lot worse.
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