Movie: Tower of Evil (1972)

What happens when you make an early 80’s type of slasher film full of nudity and gore, but make it using the production values of an early 60’s low-to-mid budget set-bound movie?  Why, you split the difference and get 1972’s Tower of Evil.

This isn’t just a bad movie, but a rather uniquely bad one.  Superficially, it is about people going to small, rocky island, having sex and getting killed.  But this film adds in mysterious disappearances, an ancient cult and deteriorating marriages.  All of this and more only try to give the illusion of complexity.  In reality, the whole thing operates at the intellectual level of Scooby Doo.

To ensure this is as much of a mess as possible, the same story is basically told twice over.  At first, see a group of oversexed young adults get naked and killed—at least, I think it was in that order.  This is told in flashback, through the memories of a woman who survived the ordeal. 

As the slaughter happened a week before, and she is discovered naked and in a closet, I couldn’t help but wonder if she spent an entire week naked and hiding in that closet.  Also, a device that is used to hypnotize her looks like the dance floor from Saturday Night Fever turned on its side and up against a wall.  Glad they found a new purpose for that thing.

The movie quickly forgets about that character and her storyline, as we instead follow a group of archeologists who have been organized to find artifacts of an ancient civilization there.  The impetus for this project is the discovery of a three or four foot long spear “Made of solid gold.  It must be worth at least 10,000 pounds.”  No shit!  Even in the 1972 pounds, I’m sure it would have been more valuable than that.  Also, since gold is a very soft metal, a spear made entirely of it would be useless.

The archeologists are about a decade older than the first group, but almost as hot and bothered.  I couldn’t figure out why one woman is there, as she doesn’t seem to be an archeologist, except she is the wife of one of the guys who is.  She does nothing but put the moves on every guy on the mission (and, in a fleeting moment, I swear on the only other woman in the group) and emasculate her husband.  Oh, there’s one other thing she does, and that is wearing a brown velour leisure suit with huge zippers all over it.

This is a very gory movie, and I am not a fan of gore.  And yet, it is so incompetently done that I laughed at almost every thing which was supposed to make me nauseous.  When a female corpse is discovered, the head falls off and we see it fall down every step to the floor below.  Crabs crawl all over a corpse that was supposed to be lying there for an entire week, yet it is entirely intact.  Guess these crabs are pickier eaters than most.

For what is supposed to be a horror movie, there are no scares here.  At least there are plenty of laughs, if you’re in the right frame of mind.  For example, one of the victims from the first group on the island was skewered to a wall by the solid-gold spear.  By the time the next group of visitors arrives, there’s a chalk outline on that wall.  I don’t know if this is what would happen in the real world in such a situation, but I couldn’t help but laugh every time it was in a shot.

Secret caves, a large pagan idol, brutal murders that are funny instead of horrific, tons of bare skin, catty dialogue that isn’t clever or cutting.  Tower of Evil is like a warped Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew mystery gone horny and violent, crossbred with a community theatre version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  It doesn’t succeed in any of the ways it intended, yet manages to be perversely enjoyable.

Dir: Jim O’Connolly

Starring…you’re joking, right?

Watched on blu-ray