Torture Garden (1967)
Directed by Freddie Francis

Starring Beverly Adams Burgess Meredith Jack Palance Michael Bryant Peter Cushing

Another outstanding anthology horror film from Amicus, "Torture Garden" is set in a carnival's house of horrors where host Burgess Meredith has invited a few unlucky characters to discover their fate, by looking into the shears held by a life-like manikin.

Like all great Amicus productions, this benefits from an outstanding screenplay: This one by "Psycho" author Robert Bloch. In the opening story, a broke young man kills off his uncle for his mysterious inheritance: A collection of gold coins that the geezer had been digging into over the years. He discovers that he can get more of the coins, but only if he does the bidding of an evil cat that turns up in the household. The story is better than it sounds. Robert Hutton plays the ageless actor.

In the second tale, a gorgeous aspiring actress finally gets to have dinner with the older male movie star she's idolized all her life after cheating her roommate out of the chance. Curious how the iconic actor has managed to look so young all these years, she foolishly sets out to find his secret.

The third story: Another young lady courts a world famous pianist, only to find that his piano is a jealous lover. And finally, the best tale of the bunch: Jack Palance stars as an obsessed collector who wants to get his hands on the ultimate item in Peter Cushing's Edgar Allen Poe library. He too gets more than he bargained for.

While not as classic as Amicus' "Tales From the Crypt" or "Asylum," this is still a very solid anthology horror film, with great performances and a playful, sinister edge. Unjustly out of print on video and never released on DVD, "Torture Garden" is well worth seeking.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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