Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Tormentors (1971)

Answering the question of how many over-the-top plot elements is too many for one bad movie to contain, The Tormentors is a biker movie about neo-Nazis and a would-be Christian messiah, with an orgy and a revenge angle thrown in for good measure. To be fair, this synopsis makes The Tormentors sound like a lost Russ Meyer flick, and, indeed, had Meyer applied his wild energy to the same material, he could have rendered something shamelessly exciting. Alas, director David L. Hewitt (credited as “B. Eagle”) provides lethargy instead of stimulation, so even with an abundance of action, intrigue, sex, and violence, The Tormentors is boring to watch, its scant 88 minutes comprising a cinematic ordeal. The film’s acting, camerawork, dialogue, and pacing are all terrible, and the characters run the depressing gamut from ciphers to clichés. The execution is so overall rotten that Hewitt even manages to make the aforementioned orgy dull. Here’s the setup. After his fiancée is killed by an organization called “The Fourth Reich,” Dan (William Dooley) tells police he wants justice. (Conveniently, cops know the neo-Nazis were responsible but can’t make charges stick.) Dan pretends to be a wannabe Nazi and infiltrates the group, which is some hybrid of a biker gang and a political organization. Meanwhile, “Fourth Reich” leader B. Rockwell Kemp (Bruce Kimball) frets that he can’t win over the local hippie kids because they’re preoccupied with a guy who calls himself “The Messiah.” This dude dresses in robes, wears a beard, and preaches about peace and love. Predictably, Kemp tells Dan to prove his loyalty by killing “The Messiah.” One gets the sense that writer James Gordon White periodically forgot he was writing a revenge picture, getting distracted by assassination schemes, conspiracies, internal squabbles, and even the sorry spectacle of a pain-freak fräulein torturing a distaff traitor. It’s all very random and stupid and ugly, with only the final 20 minutes or so providing the compensatory value of cartoonish excess. 

The Tormentors: LAME

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