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Blu-Ray : Recommended
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Release Date: April 23rd, 2024 Movie Release Year: 1960

Tormented (1960)

Overview -

Blu-ray Review By: Matthew Hartman
Richard Carlson learns the hard way that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned in Bert I. Gordon’s stylish creeper, Tormented. Newly restored from 35mm archival elements, Mr. BIG’s little opus looks and sounds better than ever on home video thanks to the team at Film Masters. The overall excellent A/V presentation is supported by hours of excellent extra features including the classic MST3k episode. Recommended

Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Blu-ray Disc
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p AVC/MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio(s):
Audio Formats:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English SDH
Release Date:
April 23rd, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


The catalog of B-movies and their filmmakers is a long one. While Hollywood was busy churning out big-budget flicks with huge marquee stars, it was guys like Roger Corman and William Castle and their contemporaries who made sure theater seats were filled thanks to their countless low-budget double features and gimmicky screen fodder. Among that pack of rag-tag B-listers was the legendary Mr. B.I.G. - Bert I. Gordon. Famous for gigantic bugs, huge people, tiny people, and massive rodents, his films had a charming do-it-yourself flair. But big critter creature features weren't the only films he made. Among his better efforts was 1960’s ghostly thriller Tormented

Our film stars the king of 3-D movies Richard Carlson as tortured jazz pianist Tom Stewart. It’s not that Tom is talentless; he’s prepping to go to Carnegie Hall. No, it’s his old flame jazz vocalist Vi (Julie Reding) who won’t give up the ghost of their brief dalliance. As Tom is set to get married to the beautiful (and very rich) Meg Hubbard (Lugene Sanders), Vi won’t take the hint and stalks him to his island home. Confronting her at the lighthouse, Vi accidentally slips and falls to her death when Tom could have easily saved her. As Tom starts to feel like he’s finally free of her shadow and can get married, Vi’s vengeful spirit haunts the island intent on destroying any chance of his marital bliss. 

As far as haunting and ghost flicks go, Tormented is pretty good. It’s about as scary as it is silly. And I say that as a big fan of Bert I. Gordon. He was an innovative and imaginative filmmaker who could do a whole lot with very little budget. Whereas some of his other efforts had giant crickets climbing up picture postcards of Chicago, this film isn’t as BIG effects heavy. Instead, it’s all about the haunting terrors he can bring to life with Vi’s ghostly spirit. Some of the effects are pretty solid, but there’s nothing quite like the daffy moment of seeing Richard Carlson conversing with the disembodied head of Julie Reding! 

I guess in terms of performances, script, and story structure then yeah, Tormented really isn’t that great. There are plenty of other great and more memorable ghostly horror films made in the '50s and '60s. Watching closely, you can see all the reasons throughout that made this a great entry for Mystery Science Theater 3000. It is a very ham-and-egg B-movie but I’ll stand that it’s a fun one. Riffed or unriffed, the film is certainly a well-made work even if it's under-budgeted. Performances are respectable with Carlson once again diving head first into the role as our guilt-riddled jazz man. Julie Reding is delightful as the tormenting spirit Vi. Bert’s real-life daughter Sandy Gordon is a fine little sprite as little Sandy with Lillian Adams making a fine appearance as the blind Mrs. Ellis. Genre fans will want to watch for Bert I. Gordon regulars Gene Roth who drops in as an exposition-heavy soda jerk and the great Joe Turkel standing out as a sleazy hapcat blackmailer. 

A great movie? No, I wouldn’t put Tormented as a truly great film, but it is damned entertaining and a fun watch for a cold stormy day. B-Movies require some amount of specialized attention. Appreciating these forgotten double-feature gems and collecting them on disc has become a fun little cottage industry for fans to discover. I knew this film from its status as an MST3K target along with other B.I.G. films The Amazing Colossal Man, The Spider, and War of the Colossal Beast. But because of those trips on the S.O.L., I sat down in earnest to watch them and you have to appreciate how much Bert could accomplish all on his own. On the scale of things, Tormented is probably one of Bert’s best films overall with The Magic Sword another close contender. But then there’s nothing quite like The Beginning of the End for giant grasshopper creature action! 

Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
becomes the latest forgotten gem to get the prestige Blu-ray treatment from Film Masters. A single-disc, single-film release (a break from some of their previous two-film editions), the film is pressed on a Region Free BD-50 disc, the disc is housed in a standard sturdy black case. Included is a 22-page booklet featuring essays about the film and Bert I. Gordon. The disc loads to a static image main menu with standard navigation options.

Video Review


Leave it to Film Masters to once again impress with their restoration efforts. Working with 4K scans of 35mm archival elements, Tormented shines with this 1.85:1 1080p transfer. I’ve seen the MST3K episode countless times over the years and the few times I’ve checked it out unriffed, the transfer was never much better than that tape used for the episode. Here we have a genuinely cinematic visual appeal with clean crisp details and a natural film grain structure. Facial features and clothing textures are all appreciable. The grayscale for this black-and-white feature is also nice and balanced allowing for nice deep dark blacks, healthy shadows, and brilliantly crisp whites. Grain can thicken around optical effects shots (and there are many) but that’s to be expected. The elements are in pretty great condition overall, with a few little nicks and speckles but nothing distracting. There is some slight occasional telecine wobble, but again nothing horrible. I’m honestly just glad to see a transfer that doesn’t have tracking lines running up the screen let alone one restored from actual film elements!

Audio Review


On the audio side fans are treated to a DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio mix. Like the video, I’ve seen some pretty rough presentations of this and it’s nice to be able to actually hear the dialog! The MST3K for too long has been the best way to hear what people were saying as some past DVDs out there were pretty muddy. The spooky jazz-infused score is a nice highlight for the film. Vi’s ghostly vocalings come in nice and clear. Since it takes place on an island, the sound of crashing waves is a pretty dominant sound effect, but it thankfully, doesn’t downout vocals or other key sound effects. Free of any hiss or age-issues, a nice clean track to enjoy. 

Special Features


Not to leave anything behind, Film Masters stuffs this disc to the gills with bonus content. Leading off the pile is the classic Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode from the show’s fourth season. Since the main feature is barely longer than 70 minutes, this film is one of the few that wasn’t heavily chopped and cut up to meet the show’s 90-minute runtime. Also of interest is the unaired pilot B.I.G. produced for a show called “Famous Ghost Stories” starring Vincent Price as a poltergeist movie host featuring a recut TV version of Tormented. It’s only the intro and outro segments with the opening credits of the show, but it’s a fascinating look at what could have been the next classic monster movie show. Ballyhoo’s interview with Bert may be short, but it’s great as he was still very clearly passionate about his work and films. Another Ballyhoo piece, Bigger than Life is a true love letter documentary to Bert I. Gordon detailing his long career. The new visual essay from The Flying Maciste Brothers is a terrific examination of Tormented and appreciates how clever and inventive B.I.G. was. And all of that is before all of the great essays in the booklet! 

  • MST3K - Tormented (SD 1:31:42)
  • Bert I Gordon: The Amazing Colossal Filmmaker Interview (HD 7:52)
  • Bigger than Life: Bert I. Gordon in the 1950s and 1960s (HD 39:25)
  • The Spirit is Willing (HD 20:13)
  • Famous Ghost Stories Unaired Pilot (SD 4:14)
  • Original 1960 Raw 35mm Trailer (HD 2:11)
  • 2024 Re-Cut Trailer (HD 2:01)

Bert I. Gordon was a filmmaker who often didn’t get the credit he deserved. He was an inventive do-it-yourself personality often managing scriptwriting, directing, and visual effects duties single-handed while also working with the thinnest of shoe-string budgets. If you’ve seen any of his other films, he could also be something of a shameless self-promoter often working mentions of his other films into a new feature. Not the greatest or scariest ghost film, Tormented was B.I.G. at his must subtle managing a retelling of Poe’s classic The Tell-tale Heart into a modern story of Jazz and Infidelity. It can be awefully silly at times, a bit spooky, but it’s always entertaining. Thanks to Film Masters, Tormented lives on in eternity with a terrific Blu-ray release boasting an excellent A/V presentation and an amazing assortment of bonus features. For classic B-Movie enthusiasts, it doesn’t get much better - Recommended.  

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