Tower of Evil - UK Blu-ray release

Monday, 02 November 2015 00:00 Written by 

Tower of Evil - out now on UK Blu-ray and DVDA deserted lighthouse on the fog-shrouded Snape Island sets the scene, where two fishermen (George Coulouris and Jack Watson) moor their boat and begin to explore. They chance upon three naked, dead bodies before they find themselves attacked by Penny Read (Candace Glendenning – Rashel in Blake’s 7 “Weapon”), a crazed woman. When she is taken back to the mainland, she reveals little due to her mind having switched off from the terror she has endured. However, an ancient artefact found with her may provide a clue as to what happened. An expedition is quickly organised to try and solve the series of violent and sexual murders.

From horror producer Richard Gordon (“Devil Doll”, “Horror Hospital” and "Inseminoid") 1972’s “Tower Of Evil” is known Stateside as “Horror On Snape Island”, and also found itself released almost a decade later as “Beyond The Fog”, suggesting (wrongly) that it was a sequel to John Carpenter’s movie. With a selection of engaging extras, Odeon Entertainment’s Blu-ray release gives the production another boost for a modern audience.

Following some hypnotherapy, induced by what can only be described as two huge blocks of disco lights linked up to part of the set from UFO (the giveaway being the two microphones on sticks on the top of what is definitely a console out of SHADO Control), we begin to see a lot of what happened via flashbacks, thanks to Penny’s scattergun descriptions of the events that took place.

The trio of teen victims is most notable for a pre-“Confessions…” Robin Askwith playing Des – albeit with a dubbed American accent. Also meeting an early demise is John Hamill as Gary, who played Dominix in the Space: 1999 episode “Force of Life” and Shrieve in the Tom Baker Doctor Who story “The Ribos Operation”. Finally, there’s Mae Harvey, played by Seretta Wilson – another Space: 1999 link as she was Clea in “Dorzak”, but fans of ITC’s The Zoo Gang may recognise her as the ever-present Jill Burton from that series.

Tower of Evil - Anthony Valentine standing in front of a UFO console

Heading up the psychological interrogation is Dr Simpson, played by Anthony Valentine – he of Callan and Raffles fame (and, if we want to build on the Space: 1999 obsession, the Male Alien in “War Games”). Looking on is Superintendent Hawk, played by William Lucas (Dr James Gordon in The Adventures of Black Beauty).

The artefact found on the island has created interest amongst the archaeological community. Museum chief Laurence Bakewell (played in a single scene by Dennis Price, famed for his starring role in 1949’s “Kind Hearts and Coronets”) wonders if there is more treasure to be found there. He assembles a group of experts, none of whom are phased by the possibility they might be dealing with a burial temple for Baal, a god of fertility, potentially explaining why the quartet of teenies found it so difficult to keep their hormones in check and their clothes on. Nor do they twitch at Baal’s subsequent ties to devil worship.

The four academics are Nora Winthrop (Anna Palk, who had just played Sarah in The Main Chance), husband Dan Winthrop (Derek Fowlds, the then-companion of the puppet fox in The Basil Brush Show who would go on to play Bernard Woolley in Yes, Minister), Rose Mason (Jill Haworth – a guest star in the likes of Mission: Impossible, The FBI, Baretta and Vega$), and Adam Masters (Mark Edwards, who had played Tod Browning in the previous year’s “Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb”). For added intrigue, Nora wants to divorce Dan, confiding this to Adam, and she’s also jealous of Rose, who seems to like spending time with Dan.

There’s also a private detective who’s been hired by the families to get to the bottom of what happened called Evan Brent (Bryant Haliday, who had made a name for himself in horror during the 1960s with the likes of “Devil Doll”, “The Projected Man”, and “Voodoo Blood Death” – also a Richard Gordon production).

Rounding out the group setting off to the island on the ‘Sea Ghost’ boat is Bram, another hormonally rampant young man, played by Gary Hamilton, who had a small role in the Gerry Anderson series The Protectors, playing a student called Mike in “Dragon Chase”. Fisherman Hamp Gurney (Jack Watson) again captains the boat to the island, for reasons best known only to himself.

In terms of this Blu-ray release itself, we have a 16:9 anamorphic widescreen print. Be warned that the initially grainy quality at the beginning of the film soon settles into something far superior.

Directed by Jim O'Connolly (who helmed a quartet of episodes of The Saint – “The Gadget Lovers”, “When Spring is Sprung” and “Vendetta for the Saint” Parts 1 and 2), and lensed at the Shepperton Studios, the graphic violence was a portent of things to come in what was to be the forthcoming horror ‘slasher’ genre.

In terms of extras, there’s some good stuff present. “Inside the Tower” is a ‘talking heads’ 25 minute segment with film historian Jonathan Rigby, and “Screaming Your Head Off” has actress Seretta Wilson talking about “Tower of Evil” in a 12 minute interview. There’s also an audio Commentary with producer Richard Gordon and Tom Weaver (author of “The Horror Hits of Richard Gordon”).

Theatrical Trailers for both “Tower of Evil” and its American variant, “Horror on Snape Island” are also included, alongside an image gallery. You also get nearly ten minutes of trailers for other titles – “Dr Terror’s House of Horrors”; the Dan Curtis “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” which starred Jack Palance; “House of Mortal Sin”; and “A Candle for the Devil”.

All in all, this is a very entertaining release whether you are a connoisseur of horror or indeed British Film in general. It has everything the ‘X’ certificate audience of the 1970s could ever possibly have wanted, and the studio-bound nature of the majority of the film does not hinder this from being an engaging yarn. Nudity is limited to the “T&A” spectrum of what’s revealed on screen, with some objects and scenery concealing what would have been both a male and female full-frontal lack of modesty.

“Tower of Evil” is out now from Odeon Entertainment. It has a ‘18’ certificate, a running time of 90 mins approx, and a RRP for the Blu-ray of £21.99, DVD at £14.99, or get either for less at


Last modified on Monday, 02 November 2015 15:53

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