Tower of Terror (1941)
Not to be confused with the 1997 Disney TV flick based on the theme park ride, Tower of Terror is a 1941 genre crossing British film set on a German lighthouse in the North Sea.
When rum sodden, hook handed lighthouse keeper Wolfe Kristan (Wilfred Lawson) drags concentration camp escapee Marie Durand (Mexican-American actress Movita Castanada) out of the sea he is convinced that his dead wife Marta has returned from beyond the grave. Problem is Marie falls for dashing British spy Anthony Hale (Michael Rennie, The Day the Earth Stood Still and Night of the Demon), who is undercover as a stand in for Kristan’s assistant and waiting for the Royal Navy to pick him up. However with Hale’s cover blown will the Navy get the lighthouse before the Gestapo arrive or will the increasingly deranged Kristan see to the lovers’ fate first?
I thought Tower of Terror was a lot of fun, sure you could drive a bus through some of the wide gaping holes in the plot, but Lawson is just great as the deranged lighthouse keeper, gurning and grunting his ever more psychotic way towards the film’s conclusion and the lighthouse just makes such a splendidly Gothic location. In fact J Charles Gilbert’s set design and Walter Harvey’s cinematography of the lighthouse interior reminded me a lot of the interiors from Whale’s Frankenstein films. Come to think of it I really think we should see more lighthouses in horror films. I also like the portrayal of the Germans as pretty ordinary folk getting on with their lives as best they can, with only the Gestapo officers as comic book nasty Nazis.
Basically you can’t go wrong with a hook handed mad lighthouse keeper and a bunch of Nazis so I give Tower of Terror a 555/666
Tower of Terror is released by Network as part of The British Film collection on Blu-Ray (14.99) and DVD (£9.99) on 23 March.
DVD and Blu-Ray Extras:
Original script PDF