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 date
  • October 26, 1997 (1997-10-26)
Running time
89 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Tower of Terror is a 1997 American supernatural horror television 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 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 an attraction at one of its theme parks, and the only adaptation to be made for television.[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-MGM Studios, the rest was filmed on a closed stage in Hollywood, California.


Buzzy Crocker is a journalist who was fired from the Los Angeles Banner (where his then girlfriend Jill worked) for publishing a news story which turned out to be fake, he now writes for a supermarket tabloid, "The National Inquisitor". Buzzy is close friends with his young niece Anna.

An elderly woman named Abigail Gregory comes to visit Buzzy, and explains that on Halloween in 1939, she was witness to an amazing incident in the Hollywood Tower Hotel, when five hotel guests - singer Carolyn Crosson, her boyfriend Gilbert London[notes 1], much-loved child actress Sally Shine, her nanny Emeline Partridge, and bellhop Dewey Todd,[notes 2] - mysteriously disappeared when they were in an elevator on their way up to a party at the Tip Top Club.

Abigail says that the nanny, Emeline, was a 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 however reads in a book of spells that the curse can be reversed by its opposite. Abigail also explains that items belonging to the passengers must be found, and what happened in 1939 must be repeated. Buzzy and Anna enlist the help of Chris "Q" Todd, the 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 the curse can be lifted.

Entering 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 vainly tries to develop a relationship with Claire, to which the latter also expresses her feelings. Fearing an intrusion, some of the ghosts appear and attempt to frighten off Buzzy and Anna, but Anna bravely 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]

It is then revealed that Abigail is the sister of Sally Shine. Abigail was jealous of her younger sister's talents, 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 other guests and repairing the elevator has given Abigail the means to complete her spell. Jill has joined the group, and they rush back to the hotel, but they are too late, the ghosts are boarding the elevator. Anna runs in, and Sally runs out of the elevator, the elevator moves up. The group confronts Abigail, who then tearfully admits her wrongdoing.[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 big party in the 12th-floor club was a surprise birthday party for Abigail. Sally apologizes to Abigail for not being able to get to the party. Sally has kept the present she wanted to give to Abby: a golden bracelet with two hearts engraved with their names. Abby, Buzzy, Q, Jill and Sally 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, lightning strikes the hotel again, as happened in 1939, and both elevators plummet downwards. Amidst the chaos, Sally forgives her sister, and as they lovingly hold hands, they both dissolve into a shower of golden sparkles, breaking the curse and safely stopping both elevators just as they were about to crash.

Buzzy and his group accompany Gilbert, Sally, Dewey, Carolyn and Emeline up to the party in 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, 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 re-opened to the public, with Q taking charge as the new owner.


New theatrical film adaptation[edit]

In 2015, it was announced that a remake of the film was reportedly in development, written by John August and produced by Jim Whitaker.[2][3][7]

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.


  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. 

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