Film / Tower of Terror

Buzzy: Comin'?
Q: What, are you kidding, man? No way, this place is haunted.
Buzzy: Yeah, right. (doors slam by themselves behind him)

Before Pirates of the Caribbean, this 1997 Made-for-TV Movie was the first film to be based on a ride from the Disney Theme Parks, in this case The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

Steve Guttenberg plays a disgraced reporter named Buzzy Crocker, who is stuck doing tabloid stories, after submitting a story, that turned out to be false. He meets an old woman named Abigail, who tells him the story of The Hollywood Tower Hotel, which was closed down, back in The Golden Age of Hollywood after lightning struck the elevator, and killed its five passengers.

She claims that Emeline Partridge, the nanny of child actress Sally Shine, was responsible for the horrible event, which put a curse on the hotel, trapping their spirits there. She begs him to go into the hotel, and collect some items she needs, to break the curse. Along with his niece Anna, and the inheritor of the hotel, Chris "Q" Todd, Buzzy ventures into the hotel, and is surprised at what he finds.

This movie has since been the Trope Maker for Film of the Ride, a unique twist on something that's usually the other way around.

This film contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: In the ride, the 5 passengers were just nameless characters that appeared at various points. The movie gives them names and some background along with some history of the hotel.
  • All Hallows' Eve: Not only the night of the accident, but also Abigail's birthday.
  • The Cassandra: No one believed Abigail about what happened which is good, because she was lying.
  • Catch-Phrase: Q's "Cha-Ching".
    • Also, Dewey's "GO-ing up".
  • The Chessmaster: Abigail making everyone collect items on a scavenger hunt in order to complete the spell.
  • Child Mage: Abigail, back in 1939 with the Book of Souls
  • Children Are Innocent: Sally repeatedly shows this quality time and time again. By the end of the movie it becomes something of a plot point, and in the end breaks the curse.
  • Dead All Along: Claire Poulet.
  • Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: Subverted, as Emeline Partridge, nanny to child star Sally Shine, ended up as such, but as it turns out, she wasn't as malevolent as she seems, when she and the other ghosts proved her innocence, and it was Sally's sister Abigail who put the child star to her demise.
  • Defanged Horrors: Though don't think for a second there isn't any Nightmare Fuel.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Jill's trust in Buzzy has been shaken ever since he got fired and constantly rejects any story he pitches whenever he pops up in her office. However, he gradually wins her back with his investigation on the hotel.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Buzzy gets his job and Jill back, Q inherits and reopens the hotel and the ghosts are free, but only after going through hell and barely escaping death, solving the mystery.
  • Eureka Moment: "The woman is completely nuts. She probably thinks that she's a witch."
  • Every Girl Is Cuter with Hair Decs: Sally wears a big pink hair bow throughout the film.
  • Everyone Is Related: When it is revealed that Abigail is actually Sally's sister.
  • Evil Laugh: Emeline gives one in Abigail's inaccurate flashback.
    • Littered all over the hotel when Buzzy is getting the book. When the creepy owl laughs, before Buzzy nearly gets stabbed with a pen dropped from the ceiling, when he's looking around after that...
    • And of course there's Abigail's after Steve and Anna find out Emeline wasn't behind the curse.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Abigail, once she learns the truth.
  • Famous Ancestor: Downplayed with Q's grandpa being one of the ghosts who disappeared and his great-grandpa building the heirloom hotel.
  • Foreshadowing: "I think I just let a ghost into your apartment".
  • Forgotten Birthday: Played straight, aside from the birthday girl having the biggest overreaction ever in the history of this trope. She finds out sixty years later that a surprise party had been planned. Oops.
  • Friend or Idol Decision: Buzzy has to decide between helping the ghosts and getting his career back. He gets both.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Abigail's whole motivation.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom
  • Happily Ever After: Hey, even at its scariest, Disney is Disney.
  • Hell Hotel: Duh, though ultimately subverted.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: Sally Shine eerily sings "It's Raining, It's Pouring" as a ghost (just like in the ride) to Buzzy and Anna.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: Subverted in that Claire was able to appear in different 1930s outfits when she was pretending to be a present-day actress. Otherwise played straight.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Buzzy and Gilbert.
  • Lighter and Softer: Only by a very slim margin from its source material. See Defanged Horrors above.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Though it is magic lightning, so...
  • Like a Daughter to Me: With Sally and Emeline. After being accused of being the one who wanted to kill Sally, Emeline is horrified at the mere notion, and says that she loves Sally. "I couldn't love her more if she were me own daughter!"
  • Motive Rant: Abigail gives one at the end, about how everyone loved her sister but didn't care about her, and how her perceived Forgotten Birthday was the last straw. Her rant gets derailed when the ghost of her sister, the person who loved her the most, shows up in person and tells her that the party she wanted to throw was a surprise birthday party for Abigail.
  • Mr Fix It: Played with Chris "Q" Todd, who doubles as the Plucky Comic Relief.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The movie was released in 1997, but takes place in 1999. Either that or the characters are rounding up when they refer to 1939 as "sixty years ago".
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Sally Shine is quite obviously Shirley Temple.
  • Non Sequitur, *Thud*
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Buzzy gets Sally to do this to Abigail at the end when she expresses how sorry she is that she never made it to the surprise party she was throwing for her sister's birthday.
  • Old Flame: Jill to Buzzy.
  • The Power of Love: What ultimately breaks the spell.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Sally's pink, frilly, puffy-sleeved dress.
  • Red Herring: Emeline was thought to be the culprit behind the whole curse. But when called out on it, she reveals she would never do anything like that to Sally. The other ghosts likewise vouch for her.
  • Trunk Full Of Crazy: Abigail has a trunk filled with photos of Sally with her face slashed out, decapitated/mangled Sally dolls, and "I HATE SALLY" written all over the place in red.
  • The Unfavorite: Abigail to Sally, or so she thought.
  • Unfinished Business: The ghosts can't leave until they reach the party on the top floor.