Friday, November 9, 2012
Nothing bores me more than Mystery Science Theater 3000. Yeah, mostly because they laugh AT movies and not WITH them. They're actually believe that most filmmakers have no idea what they're doing, that they don't understand that a movie sometimes is bad. It's like petting a proud artist, who works hard with little money, and look down on them. Tormented is one of the movies that has been butchered by the idiots from MST3K and I can't in my wildest imagination understand why? It's cheap, yeah, but that's 95 % of the movies being made. Bert I. Gordon is one of my favourite directors and it's always interesting to see him make a movie that not includes giant animals or other monsters. Tormented is a classic, effective ghost story.
Richard Carlson is jazz musician Tom Stewart, who's about to get married to Meg (Lugene Sanders), something that's not that popular in the mind of her father - "It's bad enough accepting a musician into this family, but a jazz musician?!" - but Tom has bigger problems than that. His former girlfriend Vi (Juli Reding) is deeply jealous and threatens to expose their whole relationship to Meg and her family. During a quarrel in a lighthouse, Vi falls to her death and disappears in front of Tom's eyes. Soon she starts to haunt him, trying to stop his marriage with all means necessary!
It could almost be one of those intelligent TV-movies that was so popular in the 70's. The story is simple, but filled with great ideas, one or two stars, few locations and low on special effects. I'm not one of those that always pretends to be a bit more important by stating that it's nice with a movie that doesn't rely on special effects, because that's has nothing to do with the quality of the production - it's all about storytelling, no matter how much or how little special effects you have. Bert I. Gordon loves effects and he has a lot of them in Tormented, but they are low-key and consists mostly of ghostly figures floating around, a flying hand etc. Quite primitive and hardly scary nowadays, but surprisingly effective.
Richard Carlson, in the lead, has good material to work with. A man who's trying to avoid his dead lover and still keep up appearances until and during his upcoming wedding. Joe Turkel, who plays Vi's former boyfriend is fantastic. He's like an earlier version of David Cronenberg, both his physical appearance and his style of acting: cold and calculating. Gordon's daughter Susan has a big part as a little girl who understands better than others what's going on, and she's cute and not too precocious. Lugene Sanders as Meg is great, but like most actresses in "b-movies" during this time she has very little to do except looking good and happy. Except Turkel I would say the sinister performance by Juli Reding as Vi is the highlight of the show, both alive and as a ghost.
It's quite easy to guess where the story is going, but this is not one of those twisty thrillers that the title might lead us to (sounds like yet another Psycho-rip off, one word, low-budget, black & white), it's a very basic and doomed ghost story. We know the characters are fucked even before they fuck it up, and we follow them down the path until everything goes to hell. It's a damn fine little movie actually. The best scene is - and I will try not to spoil it - when the ghost travels into a house up to a certain person. We see flowers wither live in camera (not stop-motion or high-speed shenanigans and candles die away. It's a highly effective sequence and one of the best in the whole movie.
This is another fine film from Mr BIG himself, Bert I. Gordon. If you feel for something without giant ants or spiders or... yeah, what ever animal that's in fashion, give this one a try. I think you will enjoy it.