Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tower of Evil (1972)

Jim O' Connolly is a man who had his fingers in various pies as far as genre movies are concerned. As an associate producer, he's responsible for "Konga." As a writer, he wrote "Blood Beast From Outer Space." As a production manager, he worked on "Horrors of the Black Museum." And as a director, he did the Joan Crawford vehicle "Berzerk" and his best known (and best overall) movie, "The Valley of Gwangi." However, if I were to pick a second favorite it would his 1972 directorial effort "Tower of Evil."

Two men docking at Snape Island find a series of grisly murders-and a naked, terrified and hysterical woman with a knife. Taken back to London, she undergoes a form of hypnotherapy, and remembers who-or what-it was that killed those people. Meanwhile, a group of archeologists, along with a fisherman and a detective head to the island looking for an old an Phonecian treasure. Well, they find it-as well as the sole inhabitant of the island-and he ain't happy.

Part of what makes "Tower of Evil" interesting to me is the fact that it seems to take place in two different worlds as far as style goes. On one hand, there's plenty of creepy atmosphere, aided by fog, creative sets and a sense of foreboding evil on the horizon. At the same time though, it's essentially a blueprint for what would become the slasher movie-in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the makers of movies like "Friday the 13th" had seen this. This is a film with a deranged, deformed psychopath who kills people in a sundry of bloody ways, all while the usual rules-don't have sex, don't smoke pot, etc.-apply.

Apart from that, this is an entertaining exploitation movie from a time in which British horror was beginning to get a bit harder around the edges. While none of the actors are particularly good, the fact that the likes of Robin Askwith (playing an American of all things) and Jill Haworth show up should perk a few eyebrows. Also, while not the goriest movie by today's standards, the old school, low-fi gore effects are a lot of fun, with the highlights including a severed head rolling down the stairs and a choice impalement via a spear. Oh, and you get the requisite female nudity-and for the ladies and gay or bisexual viewers, some male nudity as well.

At the end of the day, this isn't the most surprising movie, as you pretty much know whose going to live and die. However, for fans of the trashier side of British horror, this is a good time all around, and would make a fun double feature with Anthony Balch's "Horror Hospital" or Gary Sherman's "Raw Meat."

Rating: 7.5/10

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