Tower of Terror Review!
We all remember that strange time where disney tried making movies out of their attractions right? In the early 2000s disney made two films based on their two most famous rides, The Haunted Mansion starring Eddie Murphy and Pirates of the Carribean starring Johnny Depp. Even more recently Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the lead in an upcoming Jungle Cruise movie. However none of these were the first time disney made a film based on a famous ride, oh no, for back in 1997 Disney created a made for tv movie about the Tower of Terror!
At first I thought they did it like promotionally, like a film that came out before the ride did to explain what’s going on there, like a longer version of the short video you watch before you get on it, but no, this film came out THREE YEARS after the ride opened at Hollywood studios, and 5 years before it opened in DCA (R.I.P.)! So I just have no idea why this film exists, but since I was at Disney World last week and did not ride it because I’m a pussy bitch, maybe I can ride it vicariously through this.
So the film begins back in 1939, and if you rode the ride you know what happens here, Amid the glitz and the glitter of a bustling movie town at the height of its golden age, the Hollywood Tower Hotel was a star in its own right, a beacon for the show business elite. Five people got onto an elevator, a celebrity couple, a rising child star, her nanny, and a bellhop. There’s a sixth person added to this story though, a second little child actress, watching the first one. As they did ominous green lightning, obviously the color of evil, started to crash around. The elevator went up, lightning strikes the elevator, surging through everyone.
Cut to modern day, where Steve Gutenburg makes a living making tabloids with his niece, Kirsten Dunst, but he used to be a proper journalist at one point. He gets some pics and heads out to the LA times, I’m assuming it’s the LA times because it’s supposed to be really big and they are in hollywood, and shows the boss, who happens to be his ex, the photos he took and asks if he can print the fake stories.
Since this is the 90s and news media still had some integrity, she says no. When Steve gets back however there’s a random old lady in her house. She explains that she was the little girl we noted earlier, and that she saw the little actresses nanny casting some evil spell on the actress cause she hated her, and thats what caused all that shit to go down.
Steve is skeptical at first but decides to go through with it anyways since all he has to do is go into the hotel basement and get a spell book she talked about. Steve heads over and meets up with the great nephew of the guy who owned the place, whos says that he’ll own it once the mystery is solved as to what happened that fateful night. See since most people don’t believe in ghost, and the elevator didn’t crash in this version, they just seemingly disappeared right before they made it to the 12th floor.
Steve heads into the hotel and it is well decorated, it looks like the lobby in Orlando, I wouldn’t know how it looks in Tokyo since I’ve never been, but yeah it looks like how it’s supposed to look. I digress, Steve wanders around the hotel and some spooky shit happens just out of his line of sight, until he finds the book and starts looking it over. Seemingly content with this, he heads back home and comes up with the idea to pitch it to his boss, but first they have to get some spooky photos.
Steve gets his niece to come along with him to snap some shots in the lobby, when they meet another actress lady he must have hired off screen. Her name is Claire, and she seems very excited. They snap some pics but after doing some exploring they have some ghostly encounters! They see some kid dancing in some green goo and a headless butler.
Realistically scared shitless, the two run out, and drive back to the LA times headquarters. Steve tries to tell his boss it’s ghosts and she’s just like “Nah you’re nuts get the fuck out,” but still writes down the name of the old lady. Speaking of, Steve then goes to the old lady who explains that to save the trapped souls they have to find 1 item that belonged to them then do some witchcraft to save them. So it seems that we got our main goals in order, find the items, do the spell, save the souls, horay! So we’ll see how that turns out later.
Ok so, these characters are pretty standard for made for tv disney movies. Every character has an arc, even if it’s simplistic, like the nephew is a mechanic but he doesn’t really apply himself, steve has to learn about whats really important, ect. The acting is also standard, except for Steve Gutenburg because he’s Steve Gutenburg. By the way I’ve been calling him Steve this whole review but his real name is Uncle Buzzy, but I’m gonna stick with Steve, because that’s less stupid.
Ha! Bet you guys were expecting an effects section in this review, but nope! The ghosts are just normal actors with no effects on them! Anyways, so Steve, Kirsten, and the actress lady go into the hotel, while old lady hangs out outside. After some snooping, Steve and Kirsten come face to face with the ghosts, and Plot twist! Turns out the actress was really a ghost! So the ghosts explain that the Nanny isn’t bad, and then explain that the only way their souls can really be saved is by fixing the elevator and letting them rise up to the 12th floor on halloween night. Suddenly we cut to the old lady laughing evilly the hotel! Double plot twist the old lady was the real bad guy!
Meanwhile Steve’s ex, whose name is Jill, runs to the old ladies home only to find that she was the little girl from earlier, which we already knew, and that she was sisters with the actress who was in the elevator, which establishes her motive of course, she was jealous and acted irrationally. What doesn’t make sense is why she wants to do it again now. I get the ghosts probably would have kept her out of the building, at least as she thought, but like, she was a kid. Now that she’s old it seems more reasonable that she would be remorseful, right? Like, she did this irrational thing as a kid because she was angry at her sister, do you really think she’d be that angry with her still to this day?
But then again, she does look like she’s at least in her 80s and apparently this incident happened 60 years ago so maybe she was just a very short psychotic 20 year old. Either way, they gotta fix the elevator. Steve and Kirsten, along with the nephew, go to their house and look at the prints. After a bit of a pep talk the nephew is up to do it, but Steve decides not to help because Jill says she’ll post a story about the old lady being the actresses sister so he goes to write that instead.
Alright we’re gettin near the climax here, nephew starts working on the elevator while Steve decides he’s gonna stand up for what’s right, comes to the realisation that old woman is the bad guy, then bolts it to the hotel, along with Jill for some reason. Meanwhile Kirsten checks out the basement for some reason and sees the witch doing her witchyness, who says it’s all too late and now she’s sending their souls to hell, so she runs to the now working elevator to save the souls before they’re damned, but is only able to get the little actress out before the doors shut and she’s trapped inside.
Steve runs in just as all this is happening by the way, then the four who are there run down to the basement, where the old woman has a heart to heart with her 60 year dead sister. I actually wasn’t expecting this, I was thinking there’d be this big climactic scene where there’s like two elevators in the shaft next to each other and the witch casts this spell but steve uses magic to deflect it and instead she falls all the way down, but hey an emotional reconciliation works too.
Suddenly the nephew has an idea, they quickly run to the service elevator, open up the emergency exits and try to save Kirsten, but then the lightning strikes both elevators and they begin to plummet down the tower! However, just before they crash, the little actress forgives her sister, and their love magically stops the elevators, hooray! Everyone rides up to the 12th floor, the ghosts get to enjoy their party, Steve and his ex get together, they write a story about the hotel re-opening, and all is well and wrapped up in a nice little bow. The end.
In terms of quality, I’d say that this is about in between Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Carribean. I wouldn’t say it’s great, but I don’t think it’s worth being labeled as bad either. Despite me being able to see some of the plot twists before they happened, like I said the redemption of the witch wasn’t something I expected. The only major let down of this film is that, if you haven’t noticed, there are no ties to the twilight zone. I’m not gonna lie I basically expected an hour and a half long episode of the twilight zone tuning in, but much worse. But hey, if this idea sounds interesting to you, I guess you could check it out, or show it to some kids if there’s nothing else to do.
The only problem now is that I was kinda banking on this film being terrible, I got all this footage from disney and I planned on tying it into the review, like I’m so angry at how bad the film is I’m going to go take down the real tower of terror and shit, but it actually ended up being a pretty ok film. But, like always, hope you guys have a great week, and I’ll see you next time.