Torture Garden (1967)

Torture Garden has everything you want in a portmanteau: the Amicus name. Freddie Francis directing. A cast packed with talent like Burgess Meredith, Jack Palance and Peter Cushing. A script by Robert Bloch. And the wraparound story of a sideshow run by Dr. Diabolo (Meredith) who reveals the fortune of five people.

Enoch, the first part, is all about a greedy playboy taking his uncle’s money before a man-eating cat gets involved.

In Terror Over Hollywood, an actress discovers that everyone else in the movie industry is an android. That actress is played by Beverly Adams, who would soon marry Vidal Sassoon and retire from acting. She’s also Lovey Kravezit in the Dean Martin-starring Matt Helm movies.

Mr. Steinway concerns a jealous piano who hates its owner’s new girlfriend.

Finally, in The Man Who Collected Poe, Palance and Cushing go head to head over who has the best Edgar Allen Poe collection. It turns out that Cushing wins, as he has the author himself captive.

Each of the stories has come from the shears of the seer Atropos. The fifth person (Michael Ripper, who appeared in more Hammer movies than any other actor) kills Dr. Diabolo, but it’s all an act. Finally, Diabolo gives Atropos back her shears and, because this is an Amicus film, speaks directly to you at home, telling you that yes, he’s Satan.

Torture Garden isn’t bad. It isn’t Amicus at the level of Tales from the Crypt or Asylum, but it’s still plenty entertaining.

If you’re wondering where Christoper Lee is, Columbia Pictures financed the film and asked for two American stars in the main roles. When this was originally released in the US, you got a pack of seeds to make your own Torture Garden. Those ended up being grass seeds. Also, in its US run, it was paired with the Joan Crawford starring epic Trog (well, in my head).

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