“Tower of Evil” (1972)
Studio: Grenadier Films
Starring: Bryant Haliday, Candace Glendenning, Jill Haworth, Anna Palk, William Lucas
Directed by: Jim O’Connolly
Running Time: 89 min.
Synopsis: A group go to an island where some teenagers were murdered and there was only one survivor.
The British have always made excellent horror movies from Hammer to Amicus and the films of Peter Walker that include Frightmare and The Flesh and Blood Show. Tower of Evil is one of those good horror films from the UK that blends both Gothic horror with the blood, gore, and nudity of 1970’s horror. It is creepy flick that has most of all the great elements of a good horror movie.
The film starts off with a small ship going through a thick fog on a dark night. The two sailors, who are father and son, stop at a far away island with a huge lighthouse. As the sailors make it on the island they discover several dead bodies with limbs and heads cut off on some. Everyone seems to be dead, but suddenly a young woman appears nude and crazed holding a blade. She stabs the father and runs screaming into the fog. The son is able to knock her out and bring her back to the main land.
The woman, who is named Penny played by Candace Glendenning (The Flesh and Blood Show, Satan’s Slave) is blamed for the murders on the island and is committed. Doctors try to get her to tell them what happened out there. They are able to get a few bits and pieces from her, but that is all. Some relatives of Penny’s and a group of archeologists wonder what really happened there and try to discover the mysteries of the island. The sailor who brought back Penny takes the group out to the island to explore. Once they arrive they start to uncover some of the mysteries, but will they make it back alive.
One thing this film has is great atmosphere and really gives you the creeps when watching the group walk through the thick fog, or go into the lighthouse, and even explore the many caves that are on the island. The suspense kicks in from the get go during the opening scene and all the way up until the end. The movie has a great mix of the classic Gothic horror from Universal, Hammer, and some of the Roger Corman films of the 60’s and has the vibe of modern horror of the 70’s like Frightmare, Twitch of the Death Nerve, and a little of The Hills Have Eyes.
Things I liked about the film were the opening scene, which I previously mentioned, and the flashbacks of the murders when the doctor is questioning Penny. These scenes are done well and well edited going back and forth to Penny who is looking at some flashing lights in the hospital to going to the group of four teens on the island who are first having fun, getting high, and having sex to getting cut up and killed. The group exploring the island are some of the other highlights of the film whether it is the group going through the lighthouse or climbing down into the caves. Also the ending of the film is a stand out, which I won’t give away, but is very well done.
I think the only thing I did not like about it were some of the scenes with the search group on the island. Some of the characters were so-so and at times and did not seem interesting. There was a subplot going on with two couples where one was having an affair with the other. I thought that could have been done better or not been done at all. I also wish they did more with Penny who survived the island. I would have liked to see more of her and more flashbacks of Penny and her friends on the island.
Besides that, Tower of Evil was a good film and a must see horror movie. Jim O’Connolly who directed the film and worked on The Saint television series of the 60’s and many other films throughout the years, did not really do much in the horror genre, but he made a great effort with this 70’s British horror tale. Again, the film is worth checking out and it will not disappoint.