Lest you go thinking that all British horror films of the seventies are either stylish thrillers or harmless B sleepers, I present to you Tower of Evil, which is pure schlock. Although the last half is entertaining, the first half is only so for the wrong reasons. But we’ve never let that stop us before.
On the advice of a guy they meet at a jazz festival, four American hippies on a tour of Europe go to supposedly uninhabited Snape Island. Only three of them return to the mainland alive! The fourth, a young woman named Penny, is found by two fishermen while naked and crazy among the bodies of her companions which are littering the island, and in her confusion she stabs one of the men to death. As she later waits in a hospital in a state of catatonia to one day stand trial for the murders, she endures a pointless sub-plot in which a psychiatrist tries to make her talk by giving her a light show similar to the disco freakout whatchamacallit my teenage neighbor kept in her bedroom in the 70s. The colored lights make Penny remember watching a guy smoke some dope and then her giving the other guy a blowjob, and of course bits of the murders; also, the lights make her see stuff in flashback that she wasn’t even present to witness when living through it the first time! So it really is quite a piece of equipment.
Meanwhile, four other shitass hippies who the movie tries to pass off as real grownup archaeologists in search of Phonecian Baal-worshipping relics prepare to go to Snape Island along with a private investigator Penny’s parents have hired in the hope of clearing her name. The “archeologists” are also two former couples who are now embroiled in a dramatic yet somehow still boring love quadrangle, and the scandal gives us a chance to see some unusually bad acting even for the genre and to hear some bad dialogue. It is particularly amazing to note that these people are almost all worse than the first group given that the first group was even handicapped by bad American accents! One woman, when confronted with her infidelity, says, “It was a hot night, and what’s a girl to do when her husband’s away? Masturbation’s so boring,” with all the passion one might muster while ordering a BLT on dry white toast. But then again, this is the internet, so some of you might be quite passionate about bacon. And I’m sure the word “masturbation” coming out of a hot chick’s mouth caused a stir in 1972. B movies: always defining new moral ground.
Anyway, the new group of death fodder hippies and the P.I. go to the island accompanied by one of the fishermen from the beginning (the one who wasn’t killed) and a young hippie guy relative of his. Now, this hippie says he likes to go to jazz festivals, so I was hoping he was the one who sent the first batch to the island for a sacrifice, but that connection never was made. He is only good for one thing, or two things if you count starring in a death scene. The rest of the movie is your average decent old dark lighthouse horror. I wish the big reason for all the killings was more interesting, but do you really need reasons when you have butts, boobs, blood, a hot chick engaging in Up In Smoke levels of pot smoking all alone while being gleefully snotty to the other members of the group, and lots of brown and yellow 70s fashion? I guess I don’t.
Snape Island is actually located in Canada, and also is no relation to Severus Snape, who was named for a village in Suffolk England. But you have to admit the word “Snape” does sound unpleasant, probably due to its similarity to “snake” and “sneer”, and maybe even “snipe.” Snape.
Are there are British movies similar to I Drink Your Blood, in which the hippies are the killers rather than the kill-ees, or is that an American thing due to fear of people like the Manson family? Tower of Evil bears little resemblance in quality to The Flesh and Blood Show or Horror Hospital despite the presence of both hippies and Robin Askwith in all three, but they are all showing us the free love lifestyle exploitatively and as a precursor to death, so I guess it’s the opposite of the American idea of “can’t sleep; hippies will eat me.” Hippies.
Did you know that in the Bible in 1st Kings, when Elijah has a showdown with Baal’s prophets over whose gods can catch some wet wood on fire, Elijah taunts the Baal worshippers by telling them their god isn’t lighting their fire because he’s too busy using the bathroom, specifically going #2?