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Film / Torture Garden

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Torture Garden is a 1967 British horror Anthology Film from Amicus Productions, directed by Freddie Francis, scripted by Robert Bloch, and starring Jack Palance, Burgess Meredith, Beverly Adams, Peter Cushing, and Maurcie Denham.

Five people visit a fairground sideshow run by showman Dr. Diabolo (Meredith). Having shown them a handful of haunted house-style attractions, he promises them a genuinely scary experience if they will pay extra. Their curiosity gets the better of them, and the small crowd follows him behind a curtain, where they each view their fate through the shears of an effigy of the female deity Atropos.

  • In "Enoch", a greedy playboy (Michael Bryant) takes advantage of his dying uncle (Denham), and falls under the spell of a man-eating cat.
  • In "Terror Over Hollywood", a Hollywood starlet (Adams) discovers her co-stars are androids.
  • In "Mr. Steinway", a possessed Bechstein grand piano by the name of Euterpe becomes jealous of its owner (John Standing)'s new lover (Barbara Ewing) and takes revenge.
  • In "The Man Who Collected Poe", a Poe collector (Palance) murders another collector (Cushing) over a collectable he refuses to show him, only to find it is Edgar Allan Poe himself (Hedger Wallace).


  • Actor Allusion: In his showman persona, Dr. Diabolo wears a top hat and smokes cigarettes in a long holder, just as actor Burgess Meredith had done when playing the Penguin in Batman (1966).
  • Anachronistic Clue: In "The Man Who Collected Poe", Ronald Wyatt realises that there is something wrong with Canning's story of undiscovered Poe manuscripts because they are written on paper with a modern watermark.
  • And Starring: Barbara Ewing gets an "And Introducing Barbara Ewing" at the end of the opening credits.
  • Brain Uploading: In "Terror Over Hollywood", the Hollywood elite of actors, directors, and producers who seem to maintain their popularity and youth for decades have all had their brains uploaded into robot bodies.
  • Cats Are Mean: In "Enoch", Colin Williams frees a cat from a grave. Under the influence of this cat—which Colin believes to be an evil spirit and witch's familiar in the form of cat—he commits murder for the cat, who has a taste for human blood. In exchange, the cat provides him with riches.
  • Cat Scare: In "Enoch", Colin is startled when a cat jumps out of the coffin he opens. Perhaps a few moments consideration might have had him wondering what a live cat was doing inside a sealed, buried coffin...
  • The Collector: "The Man Who Collected Poe" showcases the rivalry between two obsessive Edgar Allan Poe collectors. One of the the two, Lancelot Canning, is a third generation Poe collector and his rival, Ronald Wyatt, eventually discovers Canning's greatest secret: his grandfather was a grave robber who stole Poe's remains from the cemetery and used black magic to resurrect him. Canning has the now immortal Poe a prisoner in his basement, where he is forced to scribe new tales for him.
  • Couldn't Find a Lighter: Dr. Diabolo uses a red hot poker from his torture exhibit to light his cigarette.
  • Dead Man's Chest: In "Enoch", Colin stuffs the bodies of the tramp and the nurse into a steamer trunk and is loading it into the boot of his car when the local bobby arrives to ask him some questions about the missing tramp. The helpful policeman offers to help Colin load the trunk and, as he is doing so, notices blood leaking from the corner of the trunk.
  • Deal with the Devil: In "The Man Who Collected Poe", Poe tells Wyatt that freeing someone from a deal with the devil means that the person who freed them then becomes a slave to the devil: possibly a fraction too late to save Wyatt from the consequences of his action.
  • Disposable Vagrant: The first victim Colin murders at the behest of the cat in "Enoch" is a tramp he finds sleeping in the barn.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Edgar Allan Poe scholar and collector Ronald Wyatt smokes a pipe right through the film.
  • Faking the Dead: In the epilogue, the fifth patron goes berserk and uses the shears of Atropos to "kill" Dr. Diabolo in front of the others, causing them to panic and flee. It is then shown that he is working for Diabolo, and the whole thing was faked.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: The epilogue ends with Dr. Diabolo, a distinctly playful Satan, saying that it's only sporting to give his clients a chance of escaping his domain; "...but will YOU?"
  • Gardening-Variety Weapon: In "Enoch", Colin murders the Disposable Vagrant sleeping in the barn with a pitchfork.
  • Grave Robbing: In "The Man Who Collected Poe", Lancelot Canning reveals that his grandfather was resurrection man who who stole bodies to supply medical schools. He also robbed Poe's grave and stole the dust of his mortal remains before using black magic to resurrect him.
  • Haunted Technology: In "Mr. Steinway", a possessed Bechstein grand piano by the name of Euterpe becomes jealous of its owner's new lover and takes revenge.
  • Here We Go Again!: After Colin's death at the end of "Enoch", the cat enters the police station and starts using its mental influence on the local constable.
  • Herr Doktor: In "Terror Over Hollywood", Dr. Heim is refugee from Nazi Germany who has been secretly uploading the brains of the Hollywood elite into robot bodies since the 1940s.
  • Historical Domain Character: Edgar Allan Poe
  • Horrible Hollywood: Ruthless young starlet Carla Hayes deliberately ruins her housemate's dress so she can steal her housemate's date with a producer. She then dumps the producer to go out with a Hollywood leading man. As she climbs the ladder, she inadvertently discovers that Hollywood is controlled by an elite that have had their brains uploaded into robot bodies.
  • Hypno Pendulum: Dr. Diabolo tells his customers to stare at the highly reflective shears of Atropos. He talks at them in a low, monotone and reflected light from the shears plays across their eyes; putting them into a trance.
  • I Call It "Vera": In "Mr. Steinway", Leo's prized Bechstein grand piano is named Euterpe after the goddess of music.
  • In Name Only: The film has nothing to do with the apparent source of its name, the Decadent novel The Torture Garden (Le Jardin des supplices) by Octave Mirbeau.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: In "Enoch", the cat appears in Colin's cell. Panicked, he yells out for the constable. The constable arrives and asks what the problem is. Colin starts babbling about the cat and points at the window sill, but the cat is not there and cannot be seen anywhere in the empty cell. Later the constable returns to find Colin dead and his head missing.
  • Kill It with Fire: In "The Man Who Collected Poe", Wyatt frees Poe from the burden of his unwanted immortal existence by setting fire to Poe's study with Poe inside it.
  • Louis Cypher: At the end of the film, Dr. Diabolo turns around in a The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You moment with his earlier horror makeup magically restored, revealing him to be the Devil.
  • Money to Burn: After his customers pass into the private chamber, Dr. Diabolo tosses the five pound notes they gave him into the burning brazier. This is the first indication that Diabolo is not the simple huckster he appears to be.
  • My Beloved Smother: Leo's mother is said to have been this in "Mr. Steinway": driving away all his girlfriends so they cannot disrupt his career. It is strongly implied that it is her spirit that is possessing his grand piano.
  • Never Suicide: In "Terror Over Hollywood", Mike Charles threatens to spill the beans over the secret of the Top 10 who rule Horrible Hollywood. A bartender in their employ knocks him out and leaves him locked inside his car inside his garage with the engine running.
  • Off with His Head!: The evil cat in "Enoch" demands that the heads of the victims his servants kill for him have their heads removed. When Colin can no longer kill people because he is imprisoned, the cat visits him in his cell. When the constable next checks on him, Colin headless corpse is lying on his bunk.
  • The Place: The Torture Garden is the name of Dr. Diabolo's carnival attraction.
  • Robotic Reveal: In "Terror Over Hollywood", Carla discovers the secret of the Hollywood Top 10 when when she scratches her co-star's face and discovers there is metal beneath the skin.
  • Shear Menace: In the epilogue, the fifth patron goes berserk and uses the shears of Atropos to "kill" Dr. Diabolo in front of the others, causing them to panic and flee.
  • Shovel Strike: In "Enoch", the cat commands Colin to kill Nurse Parker. After she discovers the headless body of the tramp, Colin kills her with a shovel.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: In "The Man Who Collected Poe", the resurrected Edgar Allan Poe finds his resurrected existence unbearable as he had welcomed the sweet embrace of death.