Tower of Terror (film)

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For the 1941 film, see Tower of Terror (1941 film). Also not to be confused with A Night in Terror Tower.
Tower of Terror
Tower of Terror VideoCover.png
Tower of terror video cover
Directed by D. J. MacHale
Produced by Iain Paterson
Written by D. J. MacHale
Based on Disney's The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Starring Steve Guttenberg
Kirsten Dunst
Alastair Duncan
Melora Hardin
John Franklin
Wendy Worthington
Amzie Strickland
Lindsay Ridgeway
Nia Peeples
Michael McShane
Music by Louis Febre
Cinematography Stephen McNutt
Edited by Barry Zetlin
Zaloom/Mayfield Productions
Walt Disney Television
Distributed by ABC
Release dates
  • October 26, 1997 (1997-10-26)
Running time
89 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Tower of Terror is a 1997 made-for-TV supernatural thriller directed by D. J. MacHale. It is based on the theme park attraction, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, at Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida and was originally a presentation of The Wonderful World of Disney. It is also Disney's first film based on an attraction at one of its theme parks, though it's also the only adaptation to be made for television rather than being made as a theatrical film.[2][3][4]

Unlike the theme park ride, the film has no connection to any incarnation of The Twilight Zone.[4]

Much of the film was shot at the actual attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The rest was filmed on a closed stage in Hollywood, California.


Buzzy Crocker is a down-on-his-luck newspaper editor who, after being fired at the Los Angeles Banner for publishing a news story which turned out to be fake, now contributes for a supermarket tabloid along with his niece Anna. His "reports" attracted the attention of an old woman named Abigail Gregory, who was witness to an incident in Halloween 1939, when five hotel guests, namely singer Carolyn Crosson, her boyfriend Gilbert London[notes 1], child actress Sally Shine, her nanny Emeline Partridge, and bellhop Dewey Todd,[notes 2] were killed in an elevator while they were on their way to a party at the Tip Top Club located at the hotel.

Abigail claims that Emeline Partridge was behind the incident, sending the four passengers to their deaths out of annoyance over Sally's spoiled attitude; it however backfired, trapping them as ghosts inside the hotel. She then explains that the spell can be reversed once the elevator is repaired, and items belonging to the passengers are found, repeating what the guests did on Halloween. They then enlist the help of Chris "Q" Todd, a car mechanic and Dewey's grandson, who, despite being initially reluctant, volunteers to help his deceased grandfather and the four other guests. As Buzzy and Anna venture into the abandoned hotel, they met an actress named Claire Poulet, who asked if they needed an actress to play as Emeline in Buzzy's newspaper article. Buzzy vainly tries to develop a relationship with Claire, to which the latter also expresses her feelings. Fearing an intrusion, the ghosts then attempt to ward off Buzzy and Anna. The latter pleads for her life, offering help for them to move on.

After an argument between Dewey, Gilbert and Sally, Carolyn reappears, revealing she was the same "Claire Poulet" whom Buzzy talked to previously. In an outburst Anna blamed Emeline for the guests' deaths. Shocked and dismayed at being put to blame, Emeline proves her innocence, to which the other ghosts agree.[5] Jill then reveals Abigail's real intentions: Abigail was the one responsible for the disappearance of the hotel guests on the elevator, including her younger sister Sally Gregory,[notes 3] out of personal vendetta and jealousy against her sister's booming career. Buzzy then realizes that what they did actually gave Abigail the means to complete her spell. The team then rushes back to the hotel, but they are too late.

Meanwhile, the ghosts board the elevator. Anna rushes in as well, trying to keep them from boarding. Sally manages to run out of the elevator, joining the living, but Anna gets trapped as the passenger elevator moves up. They then confront Abigail, who then tearfully admits her wrongdoing.[6] Meanwhile, the elevator continues to move up, only to once again get stuck on the eleventh floor, with only minutes left before history repeats itself. Sally, wondering what the commotion was about, joins the group, and Abigail gets frightened. Sally reveals that the whole party was meant to be a surprise birthday for her older sister all along, and apologizes for not being able to get to the party. Sally even kept the present she wanted to give to Abby, a bracelet with their names on it. Abby, Buzzy, Jill, Q and Sally then board the service elevator, catching up with the others on the eleventh floor. Anna manages to escape from an emergency escape hatch, rejoining Buzzy and the others in their elevator. At exactly 8:05pm, the lightning strikes the hotel again, and both elevators plummet downwards. Amidst the chaos, Sally forgives her sister, and as they hold hands, they both turn into a shower of gold dust, breaking the curse and stopping both elevators just as they were about to hit the ground floor.

The groups are saved, and they all go to the Tip-Top Club on the top floor, restored to its former glory. One by one, the ghosts then ascend to Heaven, along with the other partygoers. Abigail, young once more, appears, joining once more with her sister, and thanks her for the present. The Gregory sisters then join hands and vanish into the night, breaking the curse on the hotel. With the spell broken, the Tower is re-opened to the public, with Q taking charge.


New film adaptation[edit]

A reboot of the film is reportedly in development, written by John August and produced by Jim Whitaker.[7][2][3]

See also[edit]


  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.
  3. ^ Since Abigail had been in the sanitarium one year after her sister's disappearance, she has never been married to anyone, so it is indirectly revealed that the child star's real name is Sally Gregory.


  1. ^ "The Tower of Terror Airs on The Wonderful World of Disney". D23. Walt Disney Corporation. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Sciretta, Peter (23 October 2015). "Tower Of Terror Movie In Development". /Film. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  3. ^ a b 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. 
  7. ^ Fleming, Jr, Mike (October 23, 2015). "‘Tower Of Terror’ Getting Movie Treatment; Venerable Disney Theme Park Fright Ride". Deadline. 

External links[edit]