Torture Ship

Overview

Torture Ship is a strange amalgam of crime thriller and horror chiller that can't quite make up its mind what it wants to be. Irving Pichel plays Dr. Herbert Stander, a well-meaning physician who becomes a little too much the single-minded visionary. Convinced that criminality is a result of a glandular condition, he assembles an array of escaped convicts -- from small-time grifters to murderers and psychopaths who have nothing to lose (or so they think) -- and takes them out to sea. The doctor begins performing ...
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Overview

Torture Ship is a strange amalgam of crime thriller and horror chiller that can't quite make up its mind what it wants to be. Irving Pichel plays Dr. Herbert Stander, a well-meaning physician who becomes a little too much the single-minded visionary. Convinced that criminality is a result of a glandular condition, he assembles an array of escaped convicts -- from small-time grifters to murderers and psychopaths who have nothing to lose (or so they think) -- and takes them out to sea. The doctor begins performing nasty operations and other (usually lethal) experiments on them. The ship's captain (Lyle Talbot) allows this to go on, believing in the doctor's better nature. The criminals know what's going on, but between the doctor's own strong-arm men and the unwillingness of the crew to intervene, they're not able to protect themselves. It's only when Talbot's character gets a first-hand glimpse of the doctor's work that he raises a hand against him, ordering the crew, working in tandem with the wanted men and women, to take control of the ship from the doctor, who is destroyed by his own intended victims.
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Special Features

[None specified]
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
If the plot of Torture Ship sounds bizarre, it should -- it was lifted from a Jack London story entitled A Thousand Deaths, published in 1899, that is even nastier, about a shipwreck survivor who drowns at sea and is revived by his own estranged father, as part of a series of experiments in which the young man is killed, and reanimated numerous times, until he takes steps to destroy his tormentor. Starting from that material, director/producer Victor Halperin, who had previously made two deeply atmospheric exercises in the macabre, White Zombie and Revolt of the Zombies, added the element of criminals on the run. The entire mix is unsettling more than horrific, lacking the dark, enveloping visuals and mood of White Zombie. There is horrific stuff happening here, and a tone of menace and doom throughout, and when Talbot's character is briefly "zombie-fied" it is very unsettling. There are also moments of humor that shouldn't fit in a Halperin movie, but here they make the action easier to take, as when one of the hoods accepts the offer of food from a woman captive, and then remembers that she was sent up for poisoning people. Additionally, the presence of several bizarre yet familiar faces among the criminals, including Skelton Knaggs, and Stanley Blystone as the first-mate, make this a strange and diverting (if not exactly "entertaining") thriller for old movie buffs.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/15/2003
  • UPC: 089218414298
  • Original Release: 1939
  • Rating:

  • Source: Alpha Video
  • Presentation: Black & White
  • Language: English
  • Time: 57:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 64,469

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Lyle Talbot Lt. Bob Bennett
Irving Pichel Dr. Herbert Stander
Jacqueline Wells Joan Martel
Sheila Bromley Mary Slavish
Anthony Averill Dirk
Eddie Holden Ole Olson
Wheeler Oakman Ritter
Leander de Cordova Ezra
Demetrius Alexis Murano
Skelton Knaggs Jesse
Adia Kuznetzoff Krantz
Stanley Blystone Briggs
Julian Madison Paul
Russell Hopton Harry
Technical Credits
Victor Halperin Director
David Chudnow Score Composer
John H. Greenhalgh Jr. Cinematographer
Fred Preble Art Director
George Wallace Sayre Screenwriter
Holbrook Todd Editor
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Chapter 1 [10:00]
2. Chapter 2 [9:39]
3. Chapter 3 [9:23]
4. Chapter 4 [10:41]
5. Chapter 5 [10:00]
6. Chapter 6 [12:52]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play
   Index
   Catalog
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