Although Hammer Horror dominated the British horror scene in the 1960’s other film production companies were more than happy to exploit the same genre, Compton Films was one of these companies. Founded by Tony Tencer and Michael Klinger in 1961 they originally pushed the frontiers of censorship with a series of sexploitation movies that could be seen at London’s Cameo Poly in Regent Street. The films had titles like Naked as Nature Intended (1961) and The Yellow Teddybears (1963) they also made Mondo Cane type documentaries that focused on striptease and sleaze such as London in the Raw (1964). Compton Films also enabled Polanski to make two memorable British films Repulsion (1965) and Cul-de-sac (1966). They also made mainstream films like the gothic horror/thriller The Black Torment (1964) directed by Robert Hartford-Davies who had worked on Compton’s exploitation movies, spending his latter years in the USA working on minor feature films and TV.
The Black Torment involves the newly married Sir Richard Fordyce (John Turner) who brings his bride (Heather Sears) back to the family manor house - which is more like a mausoleum! His father is wheelchair bound after a stroke and making it even more depressing is that it was the scene of Sir Richard first wife’s suicide who jumped out of an upstairs window to her death. But that’s not the worst of it, Richard and his snotty bride learn that the local village suspect him of returning to his ancestral home in secret and raping and murdering a series of local young women. Obviously he denies what the peasantry are accusing him of but it cannot be denied that there’s something sinister afoot at the Fordyce castle!
|Turner with Peter Arne.|
Others mixed up in this quite effective gothic nonsense are Ann Lynn (Flame in the Streets 1961, Baby Love 1968) as Sir Richard’s dead wife’s sister, Peter Arne who was murdered in August 1983 plays manservant Seymour and the second Doctor Who Patrick Troughton plays stable hand Regis. So to sum up: a good cast, some atmospheric period horror and not a bad story, which all goes a long way to hide the rather dodgy directorial skill of Mr Hertford-Davies. Can be found on DVD as part of The Best of British Collection - enjoy.