Thursday, July 5, 2012

way way WAY ahead of time: Tower of Evil (1972)

Tower of Evil (AKA Beyond the Fog, Horror in Snape Island) (Britain, 1972)
rating: ****
starring: Bryant Haliday, Jill Haworth and Anna Palk

Lo and behold, the one movie that made me say "No way this was made in the 70s!"

Yes mate, this little devil packed quite a punch behind it's high class title, mixing the gothic premises of mysticism and artsy gloom with slasher cliches of sexually active (and I mean Sexually Active) teens, faceless killers, and creative demises. Tower of Evil is one overlooked and, perhaps, one true examples of an proto-slasher.

Opening with a pair of boatmen hoping to reach an island to avoid a foggy bank, only to find themselves beaching the small yet infamous Snape Island, which is now littered with dead youngsters and, in it's broken down lighthouse, a naked and hysterical girl who proceed to knife one of the boatman to death. She was soon knocked out by the other boatman and taken to psychiatric care where, through hypnotism, we found out what happened that lead her to this state.

But this is only half of what this movie is planning; while the girl is being treated, a group of treasure hunters decided to ship to the very island itself to find a Phoenician treasure despite the news of death and madness. But when shadows are seen lurking about and a rotting corpse of a woman was found placed in one of the rooms, it soon became clear for them that they're not alone and safe.

Tower of Evil had pretty much set out the rules we all know and love, while still exhibiting a few original runs for itself; the sex+death formula was used here early on, showing how the teens had met their demise after having some explicit nudie time with their love buddies and smoking some pot. Other present slasher cliches were also observed here including the ever popular "split up", leaving the girls in a room where they're completely vulnerable, and the ole killer's POV shots. It as well showcased some red herrings involving mystic cults and bouts of madness, which ultimately lead to a decent twist reveal in the end that I honestly didn't see coming. 

To add to my joy, the movie wasn't shy to exploit its killing too as they were far from tame, varying from a savage billhook hacking and an antique sword impaling, to the usual shootings, beheadings and knife stabbings, with effects splatter worthy enough to delight hardcore gore fans despite the early visual effects. Add the use of fast-cutting subliminal shocks and the countless screamings, Tower of Evil even has its moments that it's unnerving. 

On another technical note, the movie had a quick pace thus there's barely any scenes here that dragged the film down; even when the cast are just discussing, the gothic tone of the film made it all bearable as it is intriguing. The only drawback from this was that the cast are variable and the attempt to do an American accent can be a bit distracting coming from these British actors. It's not a big clod, but just a fair warning that it can be variable (this is a low-budget exploitation flick  after all, as you can tell by the island and the lighthouse themselves being stage bound) but in comparison to some other low-budget exploitation, the casts of Tower of Evil managed to deliver their roles superbly and somehow keep a high class feel to the whole movie.

With a decent bodycount, sleaze, and cliches, Tower of Evil has a little of everything you can hope for an 80s slasher with a 70s flavor. Simple, and easy to take in, highly recommendable for a true slasher fan.

1 male knifed to death
1 male pinned to the wall with antique sword
1 female decapitated offscreen
1 male hacked to death with billhook
1 female corpse found
1 female startled off atop the lighthouse, falls to her death
1 male gets a billhook to the head
1 male had his neck broken and bludgeoned with torch
1 male shot to death
1 male stabbed offscreen
1 male burned to death
total: 11

1 comment:

  1. I quite liked it too in a viewing a few months back...I also loved the opening title shot with the charming model lighthouse.