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Torture Garden
Theatrical release poster
Directed byFreddie Francis
Written byRobert Bloch
Based onshort stories by Bloch, "Enoch", "The Man Who Collected Poe", "Terror Over Hollywood", "Mr Steinway"
Produced byMax Rosenberg
Milton Subotsky
StarringJack Palance
Burgess Meredith
Beverly Adams
Peter Cushing
CinematographyNorman Warwick
Music byDon Banks
James Bernard
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release dates
10 November 1967 (UK)
6 September 1968 (US)
CountryUnited Kingdom

Torture Garden is a 1967 British anthology horror film directed by Freddie Francis and starring Burgess Meredith, Jack Palance, Michael Ripper, Beverly Adams, Peter Cushing, Maurice Denham, Ursula Howells, Michael Bryant and Barbara Ewing. The score was a collaboration between Hammer horror regulars James Bernard and Don Banks.

Made by Amicus Productions, it is one of producer Milton Subotsky's trademark "portmanteau" films, an omnibus of short stories (in this case all by Psycho author Robert Bloch, who adapted his own work for the screenplay) linked by a single narrative.


Five people visit a fairground sideshow run by showman Dr. Diabolo (Burgess 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 (Clytie Jessop).

In an epilogue, the fifth patron (Michael Ripper) 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. As they congratulate each other for their acting, it is then revealed that Palance's character had not run off like the others, and he too commends their performance, sharing a brief exchange with Diabolo and lighting a cigarette for him before leaving (using the same lighter he borrowed in his vision, implying that the events actually happened). Diabolo puts the shears back into the hand of Atropos, and then breaks the fourth wall by addressing three words to the audience, thereby revealing himself actually to be the devil.




The film was meant to star Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee; however, Columbia, which was providing the budget, wanted two American names, and this led to Palance and Meredith's casting.[2]


The film was shot at Shepperton Studios, London, England.

Critical reception

Allmovie's review of the film was mixed, writing, "Torture Garden lacks the strength and inventiveness to qualify as a top-tier horror anthology but it offers enough spooky thrills to qualify as a Saturday afternoon diversion."[3]


  1. ^ The Rabbi Rises: More About Movie Matters By A.H. WEILER. New York Times 29 Jan 1967: 91.
  2. ^ Ed. Allan Bryce, Amicus: The Studio That Dripped Blood, Stray Cat Publishing, 2000 p 50-55
  3. ^ Donald Guarisco. "Torture Garden (1967)". Allmovie. Retrieved 6 July 2012.