Tower Of Blood (2004)

Starring J.T. Thomas, Chris Todd, Bernadette Perez, Bashashi “Lady Bee” Thompson, and Dapoe

Directed by Corbin Timbrook

At long last we get the much overdue answer to the question, “Whatever became of the guy from the cover of Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health” album?” The metal band rose to prominence in 1983 with the release of that album and the metal masked lunatic on the cover briefly became the most widely recognized heavy metal band mascot, second only to Iron Maiden’s Eddie. But fame is fleeting and as Quiet Riot went the way of so many other 1980’s metal bands, the headbanging maniac in the metal mask faded away, doomed to forever be nothing more than a Trivial Pursuit: Music Edition question. As it turns out, the guy has been confined to an asylum for the criminally insane all this time. He finally escapes captivity after nearly 20 years, takes up refuge in an abandoned high rise, and to help kill time while he patiently waits for that phone call from VH-1 that will never come, he decides to hack up some drunk and horny youngsters. This is the sad truth revealed to us by the movie Tower of Blood.

Or not.

Actually, Tower of Blood’s story is a rather simple one. Psycho escapes an insane asylum and takes up refuge in an abandoned 30-story building. A group of young twenty-something types looking to do some partying show up. Masked machete wielding maniac does what all masked machete wielding maniacs do. Toss in one of those annoying “It was all a dream. Or was it?” style endings just for good measure. The end. Do not pass “Go”. Do not collect $200. Do not bother trying to make a movie worth a damn.

It’s obvious the people responsible for Tower of Blood know exactly what kind of movie they are making. However, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee what they are making is worth watching. Having no other ambition other than to be a astoundingly generic slasher movie with a little bit of gore and a brief flash or two of boobies would be all well and good if it was at least done well. It’s not, and a little bit of gore and T&A cannot make up for an uninspired snooze fest. It takes 30 minutes for the movie to even get the party started. It takes another 15 minutes before the killing begins. That’s 45 minutes right there, and keep in mind the movie is only 70 minutes long. Thanks to 10 minutes of ludicrously stretched out closing credits the actual running time clocks in at 80 minutes. Still, there is only an hour and ten minutes of actual movie and yet there is no shortage of scenes that go on entirely too long and others that just feel as if they were designed to pad out the exceptionally flimsy plot.

I’d dare to guess that about 10 of those 70 minutes are composed of predominantly pointless scenes stretched out in order to make sure the audience is forced to listen to much of the generic heavy metal/alternative rock songs that litter the soundtrack. I believe Bart Simpson once dubbed music like this “crap rock”. You think I’m kidding about how stretched out this all is? The movie opens with the killer’s escape from the asylum – all the killing happens off-camera – followed by a really long montage of the killer’s feet walking the streets of the city set to the tune of one of those lame songs. I kept thinking that I should be seeing the opening credits superimposed over this sequence but then the killer arrives at the building he plans to set up squatter’s rights in and then the opening credits begin. Sheesh!

As for the killer himself, hell, I don’t even recall if they ever actually gave the character a name. You never see him without the mask and with it on he looks like a cross between the Quiet Riot album cover guy and WWE wrestler Kane; the masked, long-haired Kane of the past and not the current unmasked, bald Kane that is about to star in his own slasher movie, which ironically sounds to have a generic plot not all that dissimilar to this film. I’m still not sure where he got the machete from either. And just in case he wasn’t Jason enough as it is, he gets his mask by swiping it from one of the partygoers, and even has his own Mrs. Voorhees in the form of a crazy old homeless lady.

As for his victims, they’re every bit as generic and one-dimensional as everything else in this production. Let’s see; On the male side we have the clean-cut white guy, the black guy, the Puerto Rican guy, and the scruffy white guy. On the female side we have the trampy girl with the nice rack, the trampier girl with the really nice rack, and the perpetually nervous girl with the okay rack. They show up and proceed to have a party scene where the debauchery on display is rivaled only by that of a CYO mixer. But at least we get to hear another one of those songs in its entirety. Then, for absolutely no reason whatsoever other than to help pad out the film even more, we are subjected to a long, utterly pointless scene of them playing with a Ouija board where they receive an ominous message of things to come even though there is no supernatural element to the actual plot prior to or after this particular scene.

Except for one scene where they get away from the killer by taking the elevator, even the fact that the movie is set in a 30-story building doesn’t amount to much of anything in regards to how it all plays out. It could just as easily have been set in an abandoned warehouse, but I guess Warehouse of Blood just didn’t have a good a ring to it.

So what does the audience get for wasting their precious time watching Tower of Blood? Four breasts, a little hack and slash, a decapitated mannequin, a slow motion strangulation, and a kill that totally rips off the lovers getting impaled together with a spear scene from Friday the 13th Part 2. I’m sure the director would call that particular scene an “homage” but frankly I’m tired of calling scenes ripped off from better movies an “homage” just because the people making the movie couldn’t come up with anything better than to copy a scene from a film that inspired theirs.

In fact, if you must waste your time watching a slasher movie then I suggest you choose one of the many films that clearly influenced this one. Or with a digital video camera, a few friends, and empty building, and a hundred bucks (plus the cost of a shiny new machete) you could just go out and pay “homage” to Tower of Blood and probably produce something just as worthwhile.

0 ½ out of 5

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Jon Condit

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