Torture Garden - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Torture Garden Reviews

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December 6, 2014
Uneven horror anthology boasts a strong cast (Jack Palance, Burgess Meredith, Peter Cushing), a veteran horror director (Freddie Francis), a smart writer (Robert Bloch) and a better than average wraparound story. That story involves a circus sideshow named the Torture Garden, where Dr. Diablo, Meredith, invites patrons to witness his funhouse horrors, but for one group, he invites them to see something truly terrifying; a glimpse into their own doomed futures, which then leads to the four tales of terror. Like most anthology films, the quality of the episodes varies and subsequently the overall film suffers. The one about a possessed piano is the worst and the best is the Jack Palance/Peter Cushing one about two Edgar Allen Poe obsessed men and Cushing's private collection. Slickly made and less gothic than most of Hammer and Amicus productions of this period, but like most anthology films, it's a bit hit or miss.
½ November 1, 2014
The second of Amicus's horror anthologies is an uneven but overall effective horror portmanteau that is ably directed by the London-born Freddie Francis ("The Psychopath"/"Nightmare"/"Dr Terrorā??s House of Horrors"), who is more skilled as a cameraman than a storyteller. Francis started out as a cinematographer and from 1955 to 1961 was considered the tops at his craft in Great Britain. Its title is misleading, since there is no torture or garden--the title was lifted from the 1900 novel by Octave Mirbeau. Renown pulp horror writer Robert Bloch (best known for his novel Psycho, used by Hitchcock) adapted to film four of his stories ("Enoch," "Terror over Hollywood," "Mr. Steinway," and "The Man Who Collected Poe"). The stories, in which only the last one isn't totally ridiculous, involve a telepathic killer cat, actors replaced by robot doubles, a jealous piano and, the best story is saved for last, about a manic Poe collector and an more manic one who has also managed to collect the spirit of Poe himself.
½ October 31, 2014
Loved it! Each individual story was like a Twilight Zone episode. Burgess Meredith's portrayal as Dr. Diablo was brilliant! Jack Palance was great too
October 19, 2014
Decent but uneven anthology horror. Jack Palace is pretty great. The ending is really silly.
Super Reviewer
September 26, 2014
Another British horror anthology with a slightly silly title methinks. This time nothing to do with the 'Tales from the Crypt' franchise but a stand alone set of shorts which was made before in 67. The director obviously made a good job of this anthology as he was used again to direct the first 'Tales' film, possibly taking many influences with him.

The frame/wrap plot for this horror sees a group of five people enter into a horror house or sideshow of sorts in a funfair. The 'show' is run by 'Dr Diabolo' and he offers all the visitors the chance to experience real terror if they pay extra, they do...I wouldn't have.
One by one they are all given the chance to glimpse into their own futures or fates at the shears of Atropos, a strangely real looking statue (which no one seems to question) of a Greek deity.

From here we are given four (yes four) short tales of terror. The first has a young man letting his seemingly rich uncle die so he can find the old man's money. He searches the old house only to be brainwashed or fall under the spell of an evil cat that he finds. Second tale tells of a young woman breaking into Hollywood only to discover the secret of all the stars youthful appearances, they are all robots.

The third tale is about a man and his grand piano. The grand piano is possessed and becomes jealous of its owners new love, so it takes its revenge on her. The last tale is about two Edgar Allan Poe collectors, one that wants bits of the others marvellous collection. In the end his greed sees him killing his fellow collector and having to deal with the devil and Poe himself.

Its yet another British horror (we did them so well back then) so again we have some good casting but this time there is also an international flavour. This anthology offers you the talents of Palance, Burgess Meredith, Michael Bryant and again the horror legend Peter Cushing.

I did like this anthology better than the first 'Tales' film. The main 'keeper' type role played by Meredith makes all the difference here. His sinister all teeth, razor sharp, Joker-like grin and villainous voice are perfect for these kind of Hammer-esque films. Then you have Jack Palance and his gleaming slit like eyes, his facial movements and sneering expressions. I always thought Palance was like that due to his age but it seems he's always been creepy.

The thing that lets this down is the range of short stories it offers. One I liked which involved the major stars of Hollywood becoming robotic inside to remain young, a fun little sci-fi 'Westworld' type plot there. The others are poor really, the killer grand piano? really?, a man possessed by a black cat and the two Poe collectors. All pretty lame really, not exactly creepy scary or even fun, just dull and idiotic in the case of the grand piano.

It looks good visually, again better than the first 'Tales' in my opinion but can't beat 'Vault of Horror'. The only two things I liked about this film were Meredith and Palance, Meredith especially in his post 'Penguin-like' outfits clearly making the most of that older winning role. Was cool to see Palance go up against Cushing too, epic double team there folks.

A good anthology which is well worth the watch if you like these kind of films, the casting is best but the stories lack punch. I think I've repeated that a few times in this review now, you get the idea then eh.
½ May 19, 2013
Torture Garden (1967) -- [5.5] -- Burgess Meredith stars as Dr. Diabolo, a sideshow barker who gives daring patrons a glimpse at their untimely demises in this horror anthology flick from Britain's Amicus Productions (ever the poor man's Hammer Studios). The four featured tales include a mind-controlling cat, a secret society of androids, a killer piano, and dueling collectors of all things Edgar Allan Poe. I expected more from venerable British cinematographer-turned-director Freddie Francis and writer Robert Bloch (Psycho). Each of the stories is pedestrian and the characterizations paper-thin. The film skates by on the personalities (and reputations) of its featured cast. Meredith puts in a charismatic performance in the wraparound story, while Peter Cushing and Jack Palance headline the final story as the two Poe collectors.
½ February 1, 2013
Dare ye enter THE TORTURE GARDEN? Five thrill seekers are coaxed into entering the suspicious carnival attraction, where their fates are foretold by a supernatural statue of the Greek goddess Atropos. The first sorry sap will be granted a fortune in gold coins if he only obeys the demands of a witch's familiar, which takes the form of a small cat. An ambitious young starlet will do whatever it takes to see her name immortalized on screen. Poor Dorothy falls prey to a possessed piano in the next. An Edgar Allan Poe fanatic lets his jealousy and covetous desire get the best of him when he visits a rival's admirable collection in the fourth. The last man, however, resists looking into the eyes of fate, fearful of what he might find. Burgess Meredith greatly entertains as the attraction's eccentric owner, in a performance that is gleefully over-the-top. As is often the case with omnibus pictures, the stories are a bit uneven, with the first and last proving to be the most enjoyable (even with Jack Palance's oddly excitable performance in 'The Man Who Collected Poe'). Freddie Francis directs the small picture with gusto, and leaves us with a fun diversion in the end despite the film's many flaws. Amicus would reach the pinnacle of their success with their next anthology, THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, from 1970.

-Carl Manes
I Like Horror Movies
December 25, 2012
This is a surprisingly poor movie anthology from Amicus Films. Not even Burgess Meredith or Jack Palance can save it. All of the stories are instantly forgettable and the wraparound story of Meredith's "Dr. Diabolo" is really bad. I mean, c'mon..."Look into the shears of fate". Not scary.
Only completists (me) or die-hard Amicus fans should bother with this one.
½ March 31, 2012
I love the Amicus anthology films, and this one is better than most of them. The first and last stories are the reason to see this one. I love seeing Jack Palance pop up in it, and he gives a great performance. I really liked portions of the score as they reminded me of The Twilight Zone quite a bit. Nothing can ever top Tales From the Crypt, but this is one of the better of the omnibus films.
February 20, 2012
An enjoyable Amicus anthology flick. Only down side is i had to sit through ANOTHER 'Black Cat' adaptation. Loved the Palance story with Poe. Great seein Burgess Meredith too.
November 23, 2011
recommended by littlemissbloodandguts......
Super Reviewer
November 15, 2011
Jack Palance stole the show for me, his creepy portrayal of an Edgar Allen Poe fanatic as this wired, jittery fellow who drank a few thousand too many cups of coffee is this nervous oddball is so far from the normal quiet, calm and collected Palance I know and love.
½ October 31, 2011
?31 Days of Horror (2011): #4
August 4, 2011
One of the weaker Amicus anthology films with the penguin himself Burgess Meredith as Dr Diablo who runs a fairground attraction telling peoples futures, the film is made up of four tales of horror and is badly let die by one story that is just complete pure b***locks! A story about a killer Piano, yes a killer Piano, YES A KILLER PIANO!! The other three stories are not bad including one about a demonic cat and another about robots replacing actors.
The best tale though is the final one with the ever reliable Peter Cushing and a quite bizarre performance from Jack Palance about them both having an obsession with the poet Edgar Alan Poe, Peter Cushings obsession is so great he has brought Poe back from the dead through Vodoo and has him locked in his cellar writing poems! Off the wall stuff! It all ends in tears!
A film that is good and bad, with a flawless DVD transfer and a pure cheese ending where Meredith becoming the devil with some dodgy camera effect and lighting! They must of been scraping the barrel for stories though having one about a Piano that pushes people out of windows!
FilmFanatik
Super Reviewer
½ July 13, 2011
I love the Amicus anthology films, and this one is better than most of them. The first and last stories are the reason to see this one. I love seeing Jack Palance pop up in it, and he gives a great performance. I really liked portions of the score as they reminded me of The Twilight Zone quite a bit. Nothing can ever top Tales From the Crypt, but this is one of the better of the omnibus films.
½ April 9, 2011
A strange port manteau woven together by the excellent Burgess Merideth. Just a shame that he, Cushing (amazing as always), and Palance are let down by a shockingly terrible supporting cast. Some of the stories are creepy, all are silly (cue the attack of the jealous grand piano!). If you like your horror in a Hammer style this is worth a watch. But you're more likely to chuckle than scream.
½ January 20, 2011
Splendid old school horror tale, with top notch cast.
Super Reviewer
½ December 11, 2010
This horror movie has a good story, but I've seen it in a lot of other movies. The cast is good too, and for the most part I liked this movie.
½ November 18, 2010
7/10. The shears of fate!
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