TORMENTED. Cheviot Productions, 1960. Richard Carlson, Susan Gordon, Lugene Sanders, Juli Reding, Joe Turkel. Director: Bert I. Gordon.

   Sometimes a movie that isn’t particularly good sticks with you and you wonder why. What was it about the film that makes it difficult to completely forget? Was it a sense of childhood nostalgia, a great performance by a lead actor, or the film score? Or was it something else?

   In the case of Tormented, a mediocre thriller, it’s the general quirkiness of it all that made it linger in my mind well after watching. Directed by Bert I. Gordon, who is generally known for his work in the science fiction genre, Tormented combines elements of both film noir and horror to tell a story about how a man’s guilt drives him to the brink of madness and then some. The black and white film has a notably idiosyncratic jazzy score that, while often out of place, actually makes the film better than it would have been without it.

   Set on an island, the film effectively uses its geographical setting and its score to tell the story of doomed protagonist Tom Stewart (Richard Carlson). Stewart is a jazz musician about to be married to a girl who lives on the same island. But his former girlfriend Vi (Juli Reding) won’t let him go. She’s determined to keep him in her grasp. But it’s she who ends up falling out of his grasp after an accident leaves her struggling not to plunge from a damaged lighthouse railing. But it is not to be. For Tom decides that one way to have Vi out of his life once and for all is to let her plunge to her death.

   But these kind of things have a way of boomeranging. It isn’t long before Tom begins seeing footsteps in the sand and seeing visions of Vi. Did she die after all? Or is she haunting him from beyond her watery grave? Is it all in his head, or is a ghost really tormenting Tom Stewart?

   Truthfully, it doesn’t matter all that much and the sub-par acting by a lot of the supporting cast doesn’t do much to propel the film forward. But there’s just enough weirdness in the movie to make it a moderately enjoyable horror film. As far as the character of Tom Stewart, it’s a part that Carlson was meant to play.