Per Matt
Nothing spells doom for a budding relationship quite like a supernatural curse from beyond the grave… or a visit from the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew! Film Masters makes waves with a newly restored version of Tormented, which is dripping with great featurettes. A new generation of fans can dive head-first into this feature film, which splashes down this week.

Located on a small island, Tom Stewart, the “Piano Genius of Jazz” (played by Richard Carlson) seems to have a tangled romantic life. He’s already moved on from a past romance, but Vi (Juli Reding) just won’t take no for an answer. Secretly meeting atop a crumbling lighthouse, she proclaims her love for him one last time. When she’s rejected, she resorts to blackmail and the tide has turned. Will her death wash away all of Tom’s problems, as he proceeds to marry Meg (Lugene Sanders), a younger and rich trophy wife? Or will his dark past finally catch up to him as he slowly unravels?

“No one will ever have you, but me…”

When dealing with relationships, I’m a big fan of karma. You deserve and will receive exactly what kind of effort you put into them. If you’re a loving, honest person, there’s a good chance you’ll be happy in your future. But if you’re a lying cheater, there’s also a decent chance you’ll eventually get yours. That’s the kind of person Tom is. Whether good intentions or not, he’s trying to break free from a scorned lover, but maybe he’s having second thoughts about his current arrangement. Whether it’s his imagination or a running-wild conscience, even with Vi out of the picture, he just can’t seem to break free from their past. He’s definitely a tortured musician on the verge of a mental breakdown.

I enjoyed watching the haunting of Tom by the ghost of Vi. The special effects were downright decent for a low-budget 1960 production that will forever give me second thoughts about eating seaweed again. Sometimes it’s as simple as an audible voice, other times items move by themselves, it’s a certain scent or there’s a floating, talking head, the ghost of Vi knows how to leave an impression on Tom. I mean, all’s fair in supernatural love and war.

“No one will ever love you more than I do…”

Admittedly, I didn’t know too much about Bert I. Gordon before watching this film or his interview, but I’m always interested in learning the behind the scenes of filmmakers, especially before they land big-budget productions. He made quite a career out of bringing giant insects, animals and creatures to the silver screen — a subgenre that I’ll always adore. Tormented is as much a ghost story, bringing the demons of a troubled man to the surface as it is a psychological horror story. This theme of reimagining Edgar Allen Poe’s The Telltale Heart is explored even more in the visual essay, The Spirit is Willing: CineMagic and Social Discord in Bert I. Gordon’s Tormented.

The Flying Maciste Brothers have done it again. I can’t state it enough how much I enjoy their contributions.

Also included in this collector’s edition is an edited version of the movie now labeled as Famous Ghost Stories. This unaired television pilot, hosted by Vincent Price (whose role here includes the host, as well as a poltergeist), features commercial breaks and only offers what-could-have-been possibilities for a great concept, probably created too soon for its intended audience. I wish there could have been more horror-themed projects for Price back in the day.

Presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the audio is DTS-HD/Dolby AC3s and these region-free discs include English SDH. Not one but two exclusive essays are included in this collection’s liner notes. Other special features highlight feature commentary, another super Ballyhoo presentation, the film’s original trailer and a re-cut trailer using restored film elements. The true gem here is the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of Tormented, which was originally released in 1992.

Joel and the robots trapped aboard the Satellite of Love, forced to watch (and comment on) many a low-budget film was high entertainment during my college years. I still enjoy watching the program in its many forms to this day, and rewatching this episode was quite the nostalgic experience. Gypsy, Tom Servo, Crow and their rotating human crew always had great comedic timing, making keen observations and impeccable puns throughout sometimes difficult-to-watch films just made the experience memorable and fun.

Their Tormented experience may be one of the show’s best episodes. Having a classic low-budget show reviewing this cult classic film just feels right. If you haven’t seen their version of the supernatural thriller in a while, picking up this Blu-ray just makes sense.

Available on DVD (with a Suggested Retail Price of $19.95) and Blu-ray ($24.95) tomorrow, April 23rd through Film Masters’ webpage or your preferred home video marketplace, Tormented Special Edition is a terrific addition to the overall franchise, one which cinephiles will truly cherish.