Tuesday, November 17, 2015

"Tower of Evil" (1972) d/ Jim O'Connelly

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Contrary to popular belief, this one isn't about my sex organ. It's actually a gothic horror cheapie from the British company (Grenadier) who also brought you 1978's The Cat and the Canary remake (and that's it.), as directed by the chappie who served you up the stop motion thrills of Valley of Gwangi (1969). Naturally, it's been released under a few different titles, including Beyond the Fog, to cash in on Carpenter's then recent success, some eight years after the fact. A sequel to The Fog it's not, but what it is, is an occasionally atmospheric, lurid set up for some hilarious dialog, outrageous seventies fashions, surprisingly gory murders for the era, and wanton hippie nudity and sex, enough to keep you well entertained up until the credits roll, I'd be willing to bet. It all starts out like this...

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" 'The velour cleavage' may be a good name for a band,  Nora,  but it's no way to walk around this creepy lighthouse at night...", notes Rose (Jill Haworth).
A pair of sailors cut through the fog and treacherous rocks to dock their boat on Snape Island, only to discover a trio of cadavers, and a nude, hysterical American bird (Candace Glendenning) who fatally shanks the older one for his rescue attempt. In an unreachably catatonic state at the hospital, the doctors shoot her full of chemicals and pelt her with groovy flashing light-based hypnotherapy to piece the horrific events together (two young couples from Denver, jazz festival, marijuana, free love, yessss, it's all coming together now, isn't it?). Meanwhile, the murder-spear extracted from the midsection of one of the hippie corpses is made of pure gold, dating back thousands of years, to a Phoenician cult that payed its tributes to Baal. This leads to another group, archaeologists this time, willing to boat through the choppy,  rear projected waters back to Snape Island, to search for the hidden treasure. There's an unhappily married nymphomaniac named Nora (Anna Palk), who flits about the creepy lighthouse, blowing jibbs in a form-fitting velour bell bottom jumpsuit, and her husband, Dan (Derek Fowlds), Evan and Rose (Bryant Haliday, Jill Haworth), a dodgy detective named Hawk, Hamp (Jack Watson), the surviving sailor from the original trip, and his horny nephew, Brom (Gary Hamilton), a Mick Jagger lookalike who wears the couture version of a weightlifting belt (!) over his ugly, loud seventies gear. Besides that, what could go wrong?

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"With this sacrificial gold machete lodged in my head, I've every reason to feel 'umpy!", thinks Brom (Gary Hamilton).
Well, for starters, the original lighthouse keeper and his wife and infant child, who may or may not have drowned some time ago, except the wife's gooey corpse suddenly turns up in a chair inside, while the men are out policing the rocks for cave entrances, after Nora's had a weed-induced shag with Brom in bed under everyone's noses. If that wasn't bad enough, some prankster has blown up their only boat back to the mainland with dynamite, and smashed the short wave radio, as well. Damn. Then Nora plummets to her death from the light tower, while avoiding the advances of the mad old keeper, who more than slightly resembles Peter Jackson circa Bad Taste (1987), in bib overalls. While everyone's flashlighting their way through the labrynthian caves under the lighthouse, Brom gets his loaf bifurcated by a gold machete, and Dan runs into the keeper, who abruptly snaps his neck, before being fatally perforated by the detective's bullets. Just when it looks like the mystery has been wrapped up, and the gold trinkets of Baal's altar have been recovered, the keeper's even more deformed son (think oversized, cyclopean caveman Mardi Gras head kind of deformed here) shanks up Hamp, and descends upon Rose, only to eat a chucked paraffin lamp for breakfast, which sends the deformed madman, the lighthouse, the caves, the altar full of goodies...everything, ablaze, while the survivors look on. End titles, please.

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"Omigod!! I've just won two tickets to see Mandrake Paddle Steamer at the Isle of Wight Festival!!"
The DVD treatment by Elite Entertainment (which is the one I have, having never been struck with the urge to upgrade from it) offers the film's trailer, and nothing else. Good enough for me, maybe some of you are slightly more ambitious about that sort of thing. You'll remember Candace Glendenning from her appearances in things like The Flesh and Blood Show (1972) and Satan's Slave (1976). Anna Palk, my favorite dish here, dates back to 1964's The Earth Dies Screaming, The Skull (1965), and 1966's The Frozen Dead, before being taken by cancer in 1990 at the age of forty-eight. Genre-wise, Haworth can be seen in 1960's Brides of Dracula, It! (1967), Horror House (1969), made-for-tv movie Home For the Holidays (1972), and The Mutations (1974). Though you certainly wont mistake this one for a Hammer, Amicus, or even a Tigon production of the period, for that matter,  it has enough going for it, that you'll still manage to get a few kicks out of it, and for that reason, I've given it two solid Wops on the rating scale. Give it a look.

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Punctured by Liberace's spear... what a gaudy way to go, eh?
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mottikod said...

loved this flick. I remember the adds for Beyond the Fog, I think you may have had the newspaper clipping? but i never knew what it was. always thought it was some 80's flick I let slip by.

beedubelhue said...

You are correct, I did have the ad in me ol' scrapbook, Doctor. Good memory!


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