• Tower Of Evil (Scorpion Releasing) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Scorpion Releasing
    Released on: July 23, 2013.
    Director: Jim O’Connelly
    Cast: Bryant Haliday, Jill Haworth, Gary Hamilton, Mark Edwards, Anna Palk
    Year: 1972
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    Tower Of Evil – Movie Review:

    1972’s Tower Of Evil, also known as Horror On Snape Island and then later as Beyond The Fog (to cash in on the success of Carpenter’s movie), begins with a fantastic scene in which the father and son team of John (George Coulouris) and Hamp Gurney (Jack Watson) take their rickety old boat ashore and set about exploring a creepy island enshrouded in fog. They come across an old lighthouse tower and after poking about discover three naked corpses, one of which is missing its head. The only survivor of what appears to be a massacre is Penny (Candace Glendenning), who runs out of her hiding place naked, screaming, and brandishing a very big knife which she uses to stab John to death on the spot.

    From here we cut to a hospital where Dr. Simpson (Anthony Valentine) tries to use some sort of wacky hypnotherapy to pick through Penny’s memories and find out the truth about what happened in the tower. Through some flashbacks we learn how she and a few American tourists arrived and met their demise. Meanwhile, a museum director named Laurence Bakewell (Dennis Price) puts together a team to head to that very same island in hopes of discovering the burial ground and potential treasures left behind by a Phoenician king. Consisting of four archeologists – Adam Masters (Mark Edwards), Rose Mason (Jill Haworth), Nora Winthrop (Anna Palk) and Dan Winthrop (Derek Fowlds) and a tough guy detective named Evan Brent (Byrant Haliday), the group set about exploring the grounds with some help from Hamp and his nephew, Brom (Gary Hamilton), a free spirited hippy type who would rather make it with the ladies and bum around jazz festivals than work for a living. What they don’t realize is that the Gureny family’s ties to the island are far more sinister than they’re letting on.

    Although there’s a weird wife swapping subplot going on between the four archeologist characters that seems to exist only to offer up some welcome female nudity (hooray!) and, as such, there are a few pacing issues, Tower Of Evil succeeds as a pretty enjoyable mix of stalk and slash kill scenes and moody atmosphere. The tower itself is a great spot to set a movie like this, and if it’s obviously been made on a soundstage and not an authentic location, the filmmakers make up for that by loading on the cobwebs, skeletons and genuinely weird ‘Phoenician’ set decorations. On top of that, the sound mix employed here adds to the movie’s odd sense of the macabre, with strange whistling noises frequently used to foreshadow the inevitably sinister events to come.

    Made up of some solid players, the cast do a fine job here. The ladies are all fun to look at and some frequently in various states of undress, while the guys turn in fine work too. Jack Watson is great as the lumbering fisherman while Gary Hamilton does a fine job as the beatnik nephew. Dennis Price shows up for a few minutes to add his instantly recognizable face to the cast but doesn’t do a whole lot, while Mark Edwards and Derek Fowlds are fine here too. Haliday makes for a good tough guy lead and brings some good screen presence to his role.

    Fairly strong stuff for an English horror film of the early seventies, there are plenty of great murder set pieces here. More than just random stabbings, we get decapitations, severed limbs and some pretty solid gore throughout. All of this serves to build to a pretty intense conclusion (featuring some fun makeup effects) that ties all of the various subplots together rather well. Ultimately this one is a lot of fun, solid entertainment with all the exploitative elements you could want and plenty of good atmosphere.

    Tower Of Evil – Blu-ray Review:

    Tower Of Evil comes to Blu-ray from Scorpion Releasing on a 50GB disc with feature using up just under 23GBs of real estate on that disc. Presented in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer taken from a ‘2018 HD scan of the interpositive with color correction’ the movie looks really good here. The 1.78.1 widescreen image is very clean but still retains a natural amount of film grain. Colors are reproduced really nicely, appearing naturally throughout, while black levels are strong from start to finish. Skin tones look good as well and there’s a lot of appreciable detail and texture present in the image. Some compression artifacts can be spotted in a couple of darker scenes where and there but they’re minor. Otherwise, no complaints, the picture looks really good.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track is also of good quality. Dialogue is clean and easy to follow and the track is free of any hiss or distortion. The levels are properly balanced as well. Optional subtitles are offered in English only. The audio, however, does go slightly out of synch just after the hour mark for a few minutes. It's very minor, but it's there.

    Extras start off with a commentary track from producer Richard Gordon, moderated by Tom Weaver. It’s a fine track with a lot of information about the cast and crew. There’s some good information here about Jim O’Connelly’s background, the different sets that were built for the feature (it was all built, nothing used was pre-existing), Gordon’s thoughts on the cast involved in the film, some interesting notes about how Rose Tobias Shaw wound up helping him with casting, working with Bryant Haliday who he’d worked with on a few movies prior, union issues involved with casting an American actor in the lead, the ‘bedroom shenanigans’ in the movie and where they came from and how much the original screenplay changed from George Baxt’s first draft to the finished film.

    Up next is a twelve-minute interview with actress Seretta Wilson. She looks back on this pretty fondly, noting that she had a good time working on the film and got along quite well with her co-stars. She also addresses having to do nudity for the picture and gives us her thoughts on that side of the business. Composer Kenneth V. Jones is interviewed for thirteen-minutes about how he came to be involved with this film, what went into his work on the score and his thoughts on the project overall. Editor Henry Richardson also spends thirteen-minutes in front of the camera talking about working alongside the film’s director to cut the film to his specifications as well as his professional relationship with producer Gordon.

    Rounding out the extras are a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Scorpion Releasing titles (The Psychic, Murderock, Death Ship, Silent Scream, House On Sorority Row and Human Experiments.), menus and chapter selection. Carried over from the original DVD release is the Katarina’s Nightmare Theater viewing mode, which gives you the option of watching the movie play with an into and outro from Katarina Leigh Waters in which she offers up some thoughts and trivia on the picture. This release also comes packaged with some cool reversible cover art and a slipcover.

    Tower Of Evil – the Final Word:

    Tower Of Evil offers up plenty of trashy thrills and some legitimately impressive atmosphere. On top of that it’s got a solid cast and some enjoyable effects work all set to a cool score and placed on some great sets. Scorpion’s Blu-ray is a good one, presenting the film in very nice shape with an impressive transfer, fine audio and a nice selection of extra features.

    Click on the images below for full sized Tower Of Evil Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Derrick King's Avatar
      Derrick King -
      The sync issue is getting fixed:
      Update (02/15/19 4:35 PM PT): It has come to our attention that the TOWER OF EVIL disc goes out-of-sync at roughly one hour into the film. Scorpion Releasing has advised us replacement discs will be made available within 4 weeks. These discs will have revised artwork, so they will be easy to tell apart from the original.

      Please contact customer service at info@roninentertainmentla.com if you purchased this Blu-ray from us and would like to receive a replacement. Once they are received from Scorpion, we will distribute to all verified customer requests and put the Blu-ray back up for sale.

      We apologize for any inconvenience this situation has caused and thank you for your continued patronage.