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John’s Old School Horror Corner: Dark Tower (1987)

March 27, 2013

MY CALL:  This is all sorts of bad.  Only recommended for horror fans looking to check off the “killer skyscraper” box on their “Seen It” list.  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCH:  Other “killer skyscraper” movies include…hmmm…maybe Poltergeist III (1988) simply because it also takes place in a high-rise building, I suppose.  I’m guessing that Dark Tower was trying to ride the coattails of a coattailless sequel that no one ever wanted to see.

After being killed by an invisible force during a pathetic struggle and death scene, a high-rise window washer in Barcelona mysteriously dies.  Just to reinforce the gratuitous Spanish-ness of this film, the sound editing (which is more dreadful than any other aspect of this movie) noisily layers an admixture of loud, indiscernible people speaking English and loud, indiscernible people speaking Spanish…to each other.  For some reason, the guy (Michael Moriarty; It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive, Troll, The Stuff) investigating the window washer’s death seem to be from the northeast–that is, the northeastern United States.  Hmmmm?  In fact, an awful lot of folks in the building seem to be American.

After witnessing the window washer’s apparently unaccidental death, Carolyn (Jenny Agutter; Child’s Play 2, An American Werewolf in London) is fixated on the particulars of his death.  Clearly worried that she is on to the building’s nefarious plan, the building possesses a man and forces him to try to kill Carolyn.  Makes sense, right?

So our sleuth seeks out the aid of a parapsychologist/paranormal investigator.  In seeking Dr. Gold, he discovers that he himself is clairvoyant.  That’s random.  We also learn that the menacing spiritual force behind the killings may be the dead architect who didn’t get the job given to Carolyn, making this the lamest haunting ever.  More random.

 Ahhhhhhh!  It’s her dead husband’s ghost!

Dr. Gold’s investigation is boring and he realizes he needs help for a talented medium, Sergei (Kevin McCarthy; both the 1956 and 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Ghoulies III, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Piranha).

In an attempt to personify our edificial assassin, erratic POV shots from something rushing down hallways are employed.  So, I guess the building was running through the hallways inside…wait for it…ITSELF!

When POV’s attack!

Further failing to add to this structures malevolence is when it unscrews light fixtures so that they fall and narrowly miss building employees and hacking elevator controls to murderous ends.  Evidently, an elevator can fall fast enough to kill its occupants without incurring any damage…or the building and all of its fixtures possess the ability to regenerate/self-repair–but we don’t see it happen.  In fact, there are basically no special effects at all outside of some wind and broken glass.  Just sad.

Oh, yeah.  There’s a zombie in the end of the movie.  And they rip off one of the most chilling scenes from The Gate (1987).  Only here, it’s not at all chilling.

I have no clue how this nigh bloodless, unscary, nudity and profanity-free movie tendered an R rating.  The most interesting thing is that, despite how bad this movie is, there is some success filling the shoes of directors Ken Wiederhorn (Return of the Living Dead Part II, Shock Waves) and Freddie Francis (Tales from the Crypt, The Brain).

I’d skip this one unless you, like me, feel the need to see every horror movie out there.

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