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The Black Torment (1964)

A lord returns to his manor with his new wife, to hear rumors that he had already secretly returned and had committed several murders. Has he lost his mind, or is something dark afoot?

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lady Elizabeth Fordyke
Sir Richard Fordyke
Ann Lynn ...
Raymond Huntley ...
Colonel John Wentworth
Annette Whiteley ...
Francis De Wolff ...
Black John (as Francis de Wolff)
Joseph Tomelty ...
Sir Giles Fordyke
Ostler - Regis
Roger Croucher ...
Apprentice - Brian
Charles Houston ...
Derek Newark ...
Coachman - Tom
Kathy McDonald ...
Kate (as Kathy MacDonald)
Jack Taylor ...


A lord returns to his manor with his new wife, to hear rumors that he had already secretly returned and had committed several murders. Has he lost his mind, or is something dark afoot?

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


What was the deadly power that desired and devoured the women of Fordyke? See more »


Horror | Mystery


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Release Date:

1 March 1965 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Estate of Insanity  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The last film of Joseph Tomelty. See more »

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User Reviews

THE BLACK TORMENT (Robert Hartford-Davies, 1964) ***
7 October 2011 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Though owing a bit to the Gothic tradition of Hammer Horror, this British ghost story is actually more attuned to the cycle made in this vein and running parallel to it emanating from Italy. Apart from the color scheme (courtesy of cinematographer Peter Newbrook, later director of the literate horror film THE ASPHYX {1972}) and languid pace, obvious links include the haunted protagonist (with many a skeleton in his family closet), the innocent heroine, the killing spree, the apparitions (which are usually revealed to be far closer to home and reality than one could have foreseen), etc.

Leading lady Heather Sears had just appeared in Hammer's underrated version of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1962). Her male counterpart, John Turner (and resembling John Payne quite a bit actually), was new to me but he certainly left an impression – making for one of the most irascible heroes in any film, constantly blowing his top at everyone and everything, sometimes without provocation!; indeed, the whole unfolds at a somewhat hysterical pitch which seems to be an idiosyncrasy of the director. As it happens, this is one of a handful of interesting genre efforts from him: the others are CORRUPTION (1968), THE FIEND aka BEWARE, MY BRETHREN (1972) – both of which I am familiar with – and the as-yet-unwatched BLOODSUCKERS aka INCENSE FOR THE DAMNED (1972); for the record, I also own and still need to check out his star-studded comedy THE SANDWICH MAN (1966). Anyway, also on hand here are Peter Arne (seemingly devoted to the estate's invalid master and his son but unsurprisingly proving to be villainous), Patrick Troughton (as Turner's stable-master), Raymond Huntley (as a seasoned Colonel also serving as Magistrate in the community) and Francis de Wolff (as a stout blacksmith who acts gruffly and confrontationally towards Turner upon the latter's return from abroad with a second wife over a series of apparent hauntings/murders).

The hero's father is cared for by the sister (Ann Lynn) of Turner's first bride – who, it seems committed suicide by leaping from a window because she could not produce a male heir (again, this alone should immediately alert one to her role in the elaborate revenge scheme!). Another party who comes into play towards the end is a man who is the spitting image of the hero, a twin whom the old man kept institutionalized (he is repeatedly described as an "imbecile") and a secret to everybody, but who was 'reclaimed' for their own devious ends once Arne and Lynn take control of the household following their master's debilitating condition; with this in mind, the family tree (called "Bible"!?) and motto (which pretty much conditioned the extreme actions of Turner's late spouse) have much to do with the proceedings. As I said, we get a number of motiveless murders of wayward wenches, as well as one that is clearly premeditated (the old man is found hanging from a chandelier after his empty wheelchair has come crashing down the stairs!) – not to mention eerie sightings outside the window, with the 'phantom' even giving chase to the cry of "Murderer" and, for the grand finale, a gun-shot wound to the face plus a rather well-choreographed swordfight!

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