Tormented (1960): Bert Gordon’s Horror Film Noir, Starring Richard Carlson (Ghosts, Noir)

Directed and produced by Bert I. Gordon for Allied Artists Pictures Corporation, Tormented is a horror film noir, starring Richard Carlson, who narrates his anxieties.


The film was featured in the fourth season of the TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Jazz pianist Tom Stewart, who lives in a Cape Cod island community, is preparing to marry his fiancée Meg Hubbard. Shortly before the wedding, Tom’s ex-girlfriend Vi Mason visits, informing him she will end his relationship with Meg, using blackmail if necessary.

While they argue atop a lighthouse, the railing gives way, and Vi falls, hanging on briefly. She cries out for help but Tom refuses and watches her fall to her death.

After retrieving her, the body dissolves into seaweed. Tom tries to forget, but Vi’s watch washes up on the beach, with strange footprints in the sand, Vi’s ghost appears, vowing to haunt him for the rest of his life.

During a wedding party, Vi’s disembodied head appears in a photo of the couple. Later, Vi taunts that she will now use her voice to tell the world how he killed her. A beatnik ferryman appears, intent on collecting the $5 Vi owes for her passage to the island. Tom’s pay only causes the shifty man to stick around, and his attempts at blackmail lead to his death.

Unbeknownst to Tom, Sandy has inadvertently witnessed the murder, but she remains silent. Before she can speak, the church’s doors open, causing the flowers to wilt and the candles to die, bringing the ceremony to abrupt halt.

Tom returns to the lighthouse to tell Vi he is leaving the island.  Sandy’s eavesdropping makes him realizes he is trapped: Sandy could tell Meg and the community. In desperation, Tom leads Sandy up to the broken railing with the intent to push her over. However, Vi’s ghost swoops down on him, causing him to go over the edge as Sandy watches.

Searching for Tom’s body, the islanders find it, placing it next to Vi, which mysteriously lays its arm across him. The wedding ring signals Tom is now forever with Vi.

An alternate international version was made showing actress Juli Reding in partial nudity.

Richard Carlson as Tom Stewart
Susan Gordon as Sandy Hubbard
Lugene Sanders as Meg Hubbard
Juli Reding as Vi Mason
Joe Turkel as Nick
Lillian Adams as Mrs. Ellis
Gene Roth as Mr. Nelson
Vera Marsh as Mrs. Hubbard
Harry Fleer as Frank Hubbard

Black and white

Running time: 75 minutes


TCM showed the movie on June 2, 2021.