Black Torment Review
Here the approach is one of focusing on the drama whilst implying the supernatural. Eventually the story will work through this tension, much like a whodunnit, but for the most part the possibility of spooky goings-on gives the film some much needed air to breathe. The setup is that the young lord, Sir Richard, has returned to his home with a new bride, and he encounters a lot of suspicious villagers who say that he has been up to no good with the young virgins of his estates whilst he claims that he was miles away.
The mystery of the drama is counter balanced by some action in the guise of a couple of horse chases and a concluding swordfight, and the leading cast are supported by the likes of Patrick Troughton and Raymond Huntley. There is good use of locations, and this is very competent if unoriginal stuff. There are some moments where imagination is allowed to run more freely, and these show the kind of inspiration that the director was to bring to his later horror The Fiend - the opening stalking sequence is very effective and particularly reminiscent of the similar scenes in his 1972 film. I also found myself enjoying one early scene which is shot from the perspective of Sir Richard's mute and incapacitated father as it serves the purpose of setting up this unlikely man up as a suspect for later events.
Black Torment is an orthodox attempt at making a period mystery which does its job well enough.
Technical SpecsSalvation offer Black Torment on a region free dual layer disc with a transfer that shows some degradation in terms of washed out colours and bleached whites. These issues are most apparent in exterior shots during the daytime but most of the film is not shot that way and the image quality is sharp and not bad for such a minor and aged film. In particular, the edges have been left to appear relatively natural and contrast and colour boosting do not seem to have been applied. The result is an interlaced and slightly windowboxed transfer of reasonable quality, but owners of the existing UK disc may want to compare their image with the screenshots offered here.
Special FeaturesThe disc offers sober menus which suit the main film, if not the other salvation trailers included here. Chief among the extras is a rough cut of an interview with the director carried out by a seemingly disinterested Bernard Braden. Braden clearly wants to ask probing questions about the British film industry and Hartford-Davis comes across as trying hard to respond positively. Braden asks questions which strain for a point and grope for profundity, and the effect is rather like convoluted questioner Garth Crooks asking journeyman footballer Gary Neville his views on Wittgenstein.
Stretches of the score, accompanied by horses hooves, are the soundtrack for two picture gallery slideshows which last just over a minute each. One shows black and white stills from the film, and the other shows pressbooks and poster art.
SummaryThe inclusion of the interview with the director probably gives this all region release the edge over the Odeon disc available in the UK. For fans of Brithorror this will be an interesting acquisition.
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