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A special sideshow torture exhibit has the power, according to showman Dr. Diablo, to warn people of evil in their futures. As skeptical customers are shown the greed and violence they're hiding, one of them snaps and kills Diablo. When they run off, we see the murder to be staged as part of the show. One of the customers has hung around to see this, and wants to make a deal with Diablo, aka the Devil. Written by
Although Doctor Diabolo charges his customers five pounds to enter the Torture Garden, and the framing story ostensibly takes place in the United Kingdom, the banknotes seen on screen are clearly US currency. See more »
Dr. Diablo (Burgess Meredith) runs a circus carnival sideshow called Torture Garden. In there he offers to tell four people their futures which we then see played out. Story 1 has a man (Michael Bryant) letting his uncle die to search for the money he thinks the old man has hidden. Instead he finds a lethal cat. Story 2 has starlet Carla Hayes (Beverly Adams) discovering why stars stay looking so young. Story 3 has a woman fall in love with a world famous pianist--until his piano gets jealous (don't ask). Story 4 has Jack Palance playing an Edgar Allan Poe fanatic who plans to rob a Poe collector (Peter Cushing) but finds more than he bargained for.
OK--story 1 and 4 are easily the best. Story 2 is pretty stupid and story 3 is just ridiculous--the good acting keeps it from completely falling apart. The acting, with the sole exception of Adams, is very good--Bryant is excellent and Meredith and Palance chew the scenery. Adams is a very beautiful woman--but no actress. Also, for some reason, story 1 has an excellent music score which is completely missing from the rest of the film. There's very little blood or violence here and the "twist" ending comes as no surprise. A real mixed bag here--this isn't as good as "The House That Dripped Blood" or "Dr. Terror's House of Horrors" but worth a look for horror fans. Robert Bloch wrote all four stories too.
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