Tower of Terror (1997 film)

Tower of Terror is a 1997 American made-for-television supernatural horror film written and directed by D. J. MacHale. It is based on the theme park attraction The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, at Disney's Hollywood Studios, then named Disney MGM-Studios, at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida and was originally a presentation of The Wonderful World of Disney. It is also Disney's first film based on one of its theme park attractions and the only adaptated for television.[2][3][4]

Tower of Terror
Tower of Terror VideoCover.png
Tower of Terror VHS cover
Based onDisney's The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Written byD. J. MacHale
Directed byD. J. MacHale
StarringSteve Guttenberg
Kirsten Dunst
Alastair Duncan
Melora Hardin
John Franklin
Wendy Worthington
Amzie Strickland
Lindsay Ridgeway
Nia Peeples
Michael McShane
Music byLouis Febre
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Producer(s)Iain Paterson
CinematographyStephen McNutt
Editor(s)Barry Zetlin
Running time89 minutes
Production company(s)Zaloom/Mayfield Productions
Walt Disney Television
DistributorBuena Vista Television
Original networkABC
Original release
  • October 26, 1997 (1997-10-26)
External links

The film, which has no connection to any incarnation of The Twilight Zone,[4] was partly filmed at the actual attraction in Orlando, while the rest was filmed on a stage in Hollywood, California.


Buzzy Crocker (Steve Guttenberg) is a journalist who was fired from the Los Angeles Banner (where his then girlfriend Jill works as editor) for publishing a news story which turned out to be fake. He now writes for a supermarket tabloid, "The National Inquisitor" with the help of his young niece Anna (Kirsten Dunst) with whom Buzzy is close friends. An elderly woman named Abigail Gregory comes to visit Buzzy, and explains that on Halloween in 1939, she was witness to a bizarre incident in the Hollywood Tower Hotel, when five hotel guests - singer Carolyn Crosson, actor Gilbert London[notes 1], much-loved child star Sally Shine, her nanny Emeline Partridge, and bellhop Dewey Todd,[notes 2] - mysteriously disappeared without a trace when lightning struck the elevator they were in on their way up to a party at the hotel's Tip Top Club.

Abigail says that the nanny, Emeline, was a bitter witch who tried to put a curse on Sally, only for the curse to misfire, trapping all of the five people who were in the elevator as ghosts, who haunt the hotel. Buzzy investigates the shuttered hotel and finds book of spells mentioned in Abigail's story. The book reveals the curse can be reversed by its "contrary." Abigail also explains that items belonging to the passengers must be found, and what happened in 1939 must be repeated to break the curse. Buzzy and Anna enlist the help of Chris "Q" Todd, the hotel caretaker and grandson of Dewey, the bellhop. Q is reluctant, but he decides to help his deceased grandfather and the four guests, especially as he stands to inherit the hotel if an explanation to the 1939 event is revealed.

Inside the hotel Buzzy and Anna meet an actress named "Claire Poulet", who had been hired so Buzzy could take fake pictures of the "ghosts" for the supermarket tabloid. Buzzy tries to develop a relationship with Claire, but she is dismayed when Buzzy expresses more interest in restoring his career than helping the spirits. Fearing an intrusion, some of the ghosts appear and repeatedly attempt to frighten off Buzzy and Anna, but Anna steadfastly offers to help the ghosts escape the curse. Finally the ghost of Carolyn appears. It is immediately apparent that she is the same "Claire Poulet" that Buzzy already talked to. Anna accuses Emeline of cursing the other guests. Shocked and dismayed at being put to blame, Emeline states her innocence, to which the other ghosts agree.[5]

Jill meanwhile has been researching Buzzy's story more and learns that Abigail is the sister of Sally Shine. Abigail was secretly jealous of her younger sister's talents and fame. Although Halloween was Abigail's birthday, no one seemed to have remembered: no presents, no party. Abigail was the one who cursed her sister. Abigail has been in a sanitarium ever since, but is allowed out on day release.

Buzzy realizes that finding the personal effects of the guests (a lock of Sally's hair, Ms. Partridge's handkerchief, Dewey's spare bell-boy hat, Gilbert's Oxford spectacles, and Carolyn's locket) and repairing the elevator has given Abigail the means to complete the curse. He and Jill rush back to the hotel, but they are too late. Unaware that they are about to walk into a trap, Carolyn, Gilbert, Dewey, Emeline and Sally enter the repaired elevator. Anna runs in, but only Sally makes it out of the elevator before the doors close and the car moves up the shaft. The group confronts Abigail, who then tearfully admits her actions before Sally appears.[6]

The elevator continues to move up, but gets stuck on the eleventh floor, with only minutes left before the final phase of the curse comes into effect. Sally explains that the party was a surprise birthday party for Abigail and apologizes to Abigail for not being able to get to it. But of course Abigail didn't know about it. Sally has kept the present she wanted to give to Abby: a golden friendship bracelet with two hearts engraved with their names, assuming she would forgive her. Buzzy then explained that Abigail was the one who started the curse all out of jealousy over Sally, which makes Sally surprised that Abigail is an old woman now and was the one responsible. Abigail is distraught at her mistake but doesn't know how to stop the spell. Buzzy, Q, Jill, Abby, and Sally board the service elevator, catching up with the others on the eleventh floor. Anna manages to leap from an emergency escape hatch, rejoining Buzzy and the others, but at exactly 8:05pm, lightning strikes the hotel again, and both cars plummet towards the basement. Amidst the chaos, Sally and Abby reconcile, breaking the curse. As they lovingly hold hands, they both dissolve into a shower of golden sparkles that safely stop both elevators just as they were about to crash.

Buzzy and his group follow up behind as Carolyn, Gilbert, Dewey, Emeline, and Sally finally ascend to the Tip-Top Club, restored to its former glory. One by one, the ghosts then ascend to Heaven, along with the other partygoers. Abigail, now a child again, appears with Sally, and thanks her for the present. The sisters then hold hands and vanish into golden sparkles, reversing the curse on the hotel. With the spell broken, the Hollywood Tower Hotel is restored and re-opened to the public, with Q taking charge as the new owner.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The novelization, written by Ron Fontes and Justine Korman, refer to Gilbert as Gilbert Lawrence.
  2. ^ Dewey Todd appears in D.J. MacHale's 2003 novel, The Never War, book 3 of his series The Pendragon Adventure. The Manhattan Tower Hotel is also a major setting, the sister to the Hollywood Tower Hotel. Additionally, in The Pilgrims of Rayne, Dewey Todd is reported missing, as he was in an elevator in the Hollywood Tower Hotel the moment it was struck by lightning.


  1. ^ "The Tower of Terror Airs on The Wonderful World of Disney". D23. Walt Disney Corporation. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  2. ^ Sciretta, Peter (23 October 2015). "Tower Of Terror Movie In Development". /Film. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  3. ^ Kirshenblat, Eliana (23 October 2015). "Disney's New Tower of Terror Movie Seeking a Writer". Screen Rant. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  4. ^ a b Steigman, Kelsey (26 October 2015). "ALERT: Disney Has a New "Tower of Terror" Movie in the Works". Seventeen. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  5. ^ Worthington, Wendy (Actor) (October 26, 1997). Tower of Terror. Walt Disney Television. Emeline Partridge: I don't know where you came up with such a fairy story, lass, but I couldn't love Sally more if she were me own daughter. I protected her in life, and I'll continue until I get her back safe with her parents.
  6. ^ Strickland, Amzie (Actor) (October 26, 1997). Tower of Terror. Walt Disney Television. Abigail Gregory: I made her [Sally] a legend! And now she is everywhere. Haunting me for 60 years. But not anymore.

External linksEdit