Ink Stained Wretch



Well, we can say immediately and with certainty that it’s a 1964 Comptom Films production, a horror movie directed by Robert Hartford-Davis (like INCENSE FOR THE DAMNED, it has a character called Richard and everyone is always saying his name like a damn mantra). Producer Tony Tenser later gave us REPULSION and WITCHFINDER GENERAL, which are prefigured here by the lack of supernatural elements, but the suggestion of same. As a low-budget period thriller, this certainly foreshadows Michael Reeves’ visceral English Civil War western except it doesn’t have the viciousness, the poetry, or the imagination. The plot is a Scooby-Dooby-Don’t farrago of LES DIABOLIQUES and REBECCA with a welcome bit of Roger Corman’s HOUSE OF USHER in the direction.


But what is the actual black torment of THE BLACK TORMENT? What does the title mean? Well, at a certain fraught point of the narrative, with the lord of the manor and his new bride being tormented by spooky visions of his doppelganger and his dead first wife, his paralysed father turns up unexpectedly out of his wheelchair, and even more unexpectedly dangling from a chandelier, smudged about the face with ink.


That seems to be it: “the black torment” means getting ink smeared on your face while hanged from a chandelier. You have to admit, it lives up to its name.

Hammer personages in attendance: hulking Francis De Wolff, skulking Patrick Troughton, sulking Heather Sears.

The writers/assemblers of stolen materials are Derek & Donald Ford, whom my late friend Lawrie believed to be distant cousins of your actual John Ford. I wonder if that’s something they spread around themselves? There’s nothing to substantiate it on the internet. Still, it beats being known as the authors of THE WIFE SWAPPERS and WHAT’S UP NURSE! (sic). They would later give us A STUDY IN TERROR, which like this one features the murder of Edina Ronay. Whether they had some kind of passionate dislike of Edina Ronay, or passionate fondness for her, or just didn’t know many girls, I can’t say.

6 Responses to “Ink Stained Wretch”

  1. No comma in Ford’s “What’s Up Nurse!” but a comma in Ford’s “Keep It Up, Jack.” Hmm.

  2. Is punctuation hereditary? A topic for loftier blogs than this. But John (AKA Jack) Ford had a perfect apostrophe in Lightnin’, Hitchin’ Posts, and A Gun Fightin’ Gentleman, while his only exclamation point was in This is Korea!, which I’m prepared to overlook.

  3. Happy Birthday, David E!

  4. Andre Ferreira Says:

    The cratedigger/eternal optimist in me actually would like to watch The Black Torment, if only to understand Geoff Andrews’ back-handed recommendation that it was watchable despite atrocious direction, and to see more Compton horror: Repulsion and Witchfinder are obviously masterpieces, but I recently watched A Study in Terror, and it left me in two minds: I thought it was a very well made, clever and exciting mystery, but I was left rathe repulsed that there was no point of view to the Ripper movies other than that it was a helluva yarn! The superior Murder by Decree at least had a viewpoint and sense of melancholic outrage – A Study in Terror felt like an (admittedly excellent) exploitation film by comparison. Thanks for you writing

  5. Thank you! Black Torment is no lost masterpiece — The Projected Man is better — but I must see The Penthouse, which has really interesting credits.

    A Study in Terror would be more compelling with an orchestral score — the very sixties soundtrack is a deal-breaker for me.

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