Thursday, July 19, 2012

Terror Week: Tower of Terror

Oh, the Terror.  Today's film is a Made-for-TV Movie designed to market a new attraction- The Tower of Terror.  Remember that one?  It's basically an elevator that goes up and down a few times...but in a haunted house/building.  Oooh, scary.  Why this ride needed a back-story is beyond me?  They made the movie, so let's take a look at it.  It stars Steve Guttenberg and Kirsten Dunst, back when she would still do this crap.  Who got the better Kirsten Dunst movie now, Bob?  The plot involves ghosts, celebrity impersonators and some guys you may recognize (aside from Guttenberg).  To find out why this exists, read on...
In 1939, a bunch of people- including a Shirley Temple analog- take an elevator up to see a party.
Unfortunately, someone casts a magical spell, causing gamma lightning to strike the elevator and them to disappear.  Okay then.
In the present (of 1997), Guttenberg is a former-Writer for a Newspaper, but now fakes stories for tabloids.  He needs a story to get him back into the business properly...
He investigates the old Hotel- which is only watched by one fat Comedian- and looks around.  Seeing nothing concrete, he decides to just fake stuff.
Dunst in this outfit is almost all that I need to say, really.  This guy dresses his teenage Niece- no Mother in sight- up as a child ghost.  Just wow.
In a side story, Guttenberg's Editor/Friend investigates the background of the old lady who hired Guttenberg.  She's apparently crazy, but I'm sure that she's not the villain.
As it turns out, she's the villain- oops.  She cast the spell, not realizing that her sister was going to a party for...her.  Double oops.

Only the power of love can save the day.  Help us, Ma-Ti!
The counter-spell works and this helps everyone.  A weird side-effect: the old lady suddenly becomes the little girl she was fifty years ago.  Wait- what?!?
The ghosts vanish to, um, Heaven and our heroes publish the story.  This brings publicity, making them all rich thanks to the Hotel being re-opened.  Thank you, ghosts!  The End.
So this is supposed to be scary?  This movie is not terrible, but its very sub-par.  I watch a lot of movies- obviously- and this one did nothing to stand out.  The story- alright.  The effects- decent.  The acting- nothing special.  Mind you, this is a film centered around Steve Guttenberg- what did they expect?  The biggest problem is the format: a Made-for-TV movie.  This limits the budget, scope and overall production value of the film.  On top of that, the DVD transfer leaves in the fade-to-black moments that segued to commercial.  How hard is that to remove?!?  Aside from that, the plot gets really silly and schmaltzy towards the end.  It's not awful, but I've seen much better.  Even the casting of 'Isaac' as a Busboy doesn't do all that much for me...
Next up, a movie about a haunted house.  Since it's not an Asylum film, maybe it could end up decent.  Stay tuned...

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