Friday, October 31, 2008

Tower of Evil

Jim O'Connolly | 1972 | 89 mins | UK + USA

This groovy-age-of-horror gem falls squarely between a cheesy Hammer film and an '80s gore-fest / excuse to show boobs. Some American backpackers go to a deserted lighthouse on mysterious "Snape Isle" and end up butchered, possibly by one of their own. The surviving girl (near-comatose from shock and terror) is brought to a doctor on the mainland who tries to extract some story about what happened from her by hypnotizing her with flashing multi-coloured lights.

Meanwhile, a group of archeologists, excited by the golden dagger with which the girl seems to have murdered her friends, head to the isle to search for ancient Phoenician treasures, or possibly a shrine to Baal. Baal was apparently the Phoenicians' sun god, worshiped in orgiastic rituals in ancient times, but has since fallen out of favour and is in the Christian tradition known only as a demon and harbinger of evil.

So much for the historical back-story. When the scientific posse arrives on Snape Isle, there's a bit of creepiness and a whole lot of soap-opera-esque melodrama. It seems that saucy Nora (Anna Palk) once slept with prim Rose's (Jill Haworth) fiancé, Adam (Mark Edwards). But now that they've broken up, Rose has taken up with Nora's estranged husband, Dan (Derek Fowlds, the secretary from Yes Minister). Now the bickering foursome are stuck in an old lighthouse with a mysterious investigator and a couple of hapless locals who seem to be hiding something rather sinister.

Throw in some fabulous '70s outfits, a few boob shots, some goofy gore and some unrealistic but fun sets, and voila: you have Tower of Evil! It's fairly obvious who's behind the creepy killings about midway through the film but it doesn't keep the ride from being fun.

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