Even by the dreadfully low standards of no-budget Z horror movies, “Tower of Blood” is abysmal. With exactly just 70 minutes of actual movie time, the film dares to boast about 20 minutes of padding, whereby the director pans about with the camera for what seems like forever, or just shoots certain scenes for much longer than necessary. The title sequence comes to mind, which involves the unseen killer walking the streets (and the camera in a tight shot on his moving feet) as loud, nondescript rock music plays over the soundtrack for what seems like an eternity.
Later, we get to see what an elevator door closing looks like; except this time the filmmakers use the repetitive opening of the elevator door to reveal the names of its cast and crew. A low-tech way to save money on the opening credits, you say? I say it’s 5 minutes of padding, not to mention 5 more minutes of having to endure that infernal rock soundtrack. Who the hell is singing (much less listening) to this crap?
The film opens with a committed killer escaping from his cell by turning off the lights. When a nurse opens the cell, the killer grabs her and pulls her inside, having used the darkness as cover. He then proceeds to escape the asylum, which strangely looks a bit like the hallways of a rundown apartment building. I tell you, they just don’t lock up insane criminals the way they used to. Why, back in my time, we actually kept them confined to their cells, instead of allowing them to pull the ole, “I’ll turn off the light, then ambush the orderly when he opens the door and then calls out” gag.
Having given us a brief bit of insinuated violence, the filmmakers decide to indulge in some character development. That is, if you consider the lead female informing us that she keeps having dreams where she’s killed, and our hero (Kirk, I believe, is his name) getting his buddies together for a party at one of dad’s empty buildings — in this case, the eponymous tower — as “character development”. We also learn that one of the friends likes to masturbate, and that he’s been caught by his little sister many times in the past. Can you say, “Yuck, that’s creepy”?
After what seems like four lifetimes have passed, our teens (I think they’re supposed to be teens) finally make it to the tower, where they dance a bit, drink a bit, and then pull out a Quija board for some fun. Well, it’s not really fun, and soon the characters are predictably wandering (by themselves, no less) around the tower’s dark corridors getting hacked to pieces by the masked killer, who wields a machete as his teen hacking weapon of choice. Personally, I’d prefer a chainsaw.
Seventy minutes later, the film is over, and we can all go back to our lives with the realization that we’ve just wasted 70 minutes on what can generously be called a poor excuse for a bad horror movie.
The most interesting thing about “Tower of Blood” are the characters. Not that they have interesting personalities, mind you, but because I’m not entirely sure if they’re supposed to be teens or college age kids in their ’20s. The actors all look like they’re in their ’20s, and I’m sure one of them is probably in her ’30s. Then again, they all act like high school teens, because they sneak around their parents and Jack, the unattached troublemaker of the group, has to ask people to buy beer for him. This, despite the fact that Jack has facial hair and looks to be in his mid ’20s. Would anyone really bother to card this guy? Also, if they’re supposed to be teens, why do two of the women have surgically enhanced breasts? You could use those fun bags as life preservers in an emergency.
Director Corbin Timbrook and screenwriter Jeremiah Campbell does go out of their way to play with genre conventions, as if to prove that they know their movie is by the numbers, and that it was intentional all along. For instance, we get a completely gratuitous T&A shot of the female lead early on, something that never happens in these films. Also, the film’s bodycount includes some surprising members of the cast. Not that these things are enough to salvage “Tower of Blood”, which is, without much doubt, a bad film in every respect. But these little winks and nods do earn the filmmakers a brownie half point, giving the film a full star.
“Tower of Blood” has almost everything you expect from your bad low-budget horror movies: an awful rock soundtrack, dark cinematography that hides almost everything worth seeing, and a short running time that can’t even help stave off overwhelming tedium.
And again, I have to wonder who came up with the idea of Jack the Masturbator getting caught by his little sister while he’s doing the dirty deed. Man, that’s just creepy.
Corbin Timbrook (director) / Jeremiah Campbell (screenplay)
CAST: JT Thomas, Chris Todd, Desire’ Varona, Thomas Daniel Smith, Bernadette Perez, Daniel Arturo Garcia, Kerry Feirman