Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Tower of Evil (1972)

          Alternately titled Horror on Snape Island, this lurid UK/US coproduction has a little bit of everything, at least as far as sensationalistic elements go. There’s an abundance of sex and violence, and the story involves ancient artifacts, knife-wielding murderers, provincial weirdos, psychotherapy, a religious cult, romantic melodrama, and normal people driven to psychotic extremes. Given the jam-packed narrative, events unfurl at such a rapid pace that one scene comprises nothing but shots of people plunging knives into victims intercut with shots of a woman screaming. Tower of Evil may not be the most coherent or logical picture, but it has lots of flash.
          The film starts frantically. Fishermen arrive at a remote island, walk onto the rocky shore, and discover the nude, dismembered bodies of several young people. Then a beautiful girl named Penelope (Candace Glendenning), who, naturally, is also naked, rushes at them with a knife and kills one of the fishermen. Thereafter, she’s thrown in a psych ward and treated while police and shrinks try to determine whether she was responsible for killing the other folks on the island. The film depicts Penelope’s prior experiences in flashback, while simultaneously dramatizing the exploits of a second group of pretty young people on the same island. They’re after archeological treasures, and much excitement ensues from the unearthing of a Phoenecian spear. Crusty sailors native to the area surrounding the island are involved, as well. In a word, scattershot.
          Narrative chaos notwithstanding, Tower of Evil is a slick piece of work. The images are colorful and polished, the acting is decent, and the ladies are sexy, particularly starlet Anna Palk. Because Tower of Evil is supposed to be a horror flick, however, it must be said that the movie isn’t particularly scary. Worse, the way everything comes together at the end is ridiculous and unsatisfying, though expecting more from this shameless picture would have been unrealistic. Lest we forget, Tower of Evil aims so low that one transition involves cutting from Penelope leaning her head out of frame so she can fellate her boyfriend to a shot of her screaming in the psych ward.
          That’s Tower of Evil in a nutshell: If all else fails, let the screaming start.

Tower of Evil: FUNKY

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