MAY 12, 2012
SOURCE: STREAMING (NETFLIX INSTANT)
According to the IMDb trivia, Dark Tower was originally directed by Hammer guru Freddie Francis, only to be replaced with Ken Wiederhorn, a man who does not like horror and is responsible for the lamest Return of the Living Dead movie, which is impressive in a terrible sort of way. So it's not much of a surprise that it's moderately entertaining at times, shockingly bad at others, and overall just doesn't work as a 90 minute film.
The main problem is that the plot is far too thin for a feature length; even as a Tales from the Crypt episode (note - Francis directed the TFTC anthology feature) it would probably have to be padded out with unnecessary bits. The entire thing is about a new building that is haunted by a ghost that has seemingly targeting its architect, played by Jenny Agutter (yay!) - but that's pretty much it. There's not a lot of people in the building, his haunting skills are seemingly confined to the elevator and lighting fixtures, and any time he goes after someone else (a security guard, a psychic) you have to wonder why since they pretty much tell us in the first half hour who the ghost is. And from then you can figure out what he wants, so the rest is just shoe leather.
And I mean that literally. I would estimate that 25% of this movie consists of people (usually Agutter) running down the same damn corridor as the Evil Dead Camera Ghost chases her. There's also a lengthy bit of the psychic wandering around telling the ghost his life story (his dad was a student of Freud!), and lots of scenes of folks riding elevators. It's as riveting as it sounds; the only time the movie comes to any life at all is during the few kill scenes, and even those are botched - I particularly liked when a guy went on a shooting spree, firing at least a dozen rounds from a 6-shot revolver. I'll also assume the incompetent Wiederhorn is responsible for the sequence where an elevator hurtles down 29 stories and crashes below, which is depicted in slow-motion for some reason (so it just looks like it's going at normal speed).
But most sinful of all - it makes Michael Moriarty boring. There's a cute bit early on where he fixes his pal's tie (much to the latter's annoyance), but otherwise he's pretty much sleepwalking through this one, and who can blame him? His character is worthless and he doesn't get to actually DO anything - at least, in the reality of the film. As part of its padding, we're treated to an early dream sequence where he fantasizes about Agutter's character, which has no payoff whatsoever. But at least he gets some "action" there, as opposed to his other scenes which mainly consist of him nodding while others talk, or muttering to himself as he reads the backgrounds of other characters on his computer.
They also waste the setting - it's Barcelona, but you'd barely be able to tell since so much of the movie takes place in this nondescript office building. Also almost no one speaks Spanish, and if they explain why the very American Moriarty is the cop in charge, I must have missed it. He keeps talking about missing his vacation - they should have worked it in that he was already ON vacation (i.e. an American cop visiting Barcelona) and asked to assist for whatever reason. But who am I to question the mastermind behind Meatballs Part II?
And finally, F the title for making me have to clarify that I'm not talking about Stephen King's incredible fantasy series. Also, I love that this might be the first HMAD entry outside of obscure Hong Kong flicks for which I couldn't find the DVD link OR the trailer.
What say you?