Originally titled The Haunting of the Bloody Tower and shot back to back with Werewolf Castle, The Haunting of the Tower of London sees writer/director Charlie Steeds (Death Ranch, An English Haunting) go off in another new direction with his films. Where Werewolf Castle was more of a medieval fantasy, The Haunting of the Tower of London is a historical horror/mystery that plays a bit like a mix of the Vincent Price films The Tower of London and Witchfinder General with a supernatural element added in for good measure.
Based extremely loosely on actual events The Haunting of the Tower of London opens with the discovery of the corpses of two missing princes. The future Richard III (Tim Cartwright, The Legend of Mordred, Vampire Virus), currently the Duke of Gloucester and “the most feared man in England” tries to convince Mistress Blythe (Emma Spurgin Hussey, Sacrilege, The Curse of Hobbes House) that the corpses may not be theirs although she is convinced otherwise.
Richard orders a “merciless investigation” which makes Solomon (James Swanton, The Jack in the Box: Awakening, The Banishing) the court torturer quite happy. But as court intrigue and madness take over, nobody is safe. Not Isaac Crawgyll (Reece Connolly, A Werewolf in England), the priest with his own secrets to hide, his young friend Geoffrey (Jake Watkins, It Came from Below, The Gardener) nor Henry Pedrick (Richard Rowden, Werewolf Castle) who is believed to be able to talk to the dead.
Even the royal couple Edward (Rory Wilton, Horizon, The Barge People) and Elizabeth (Grace Blackman, Knights of the Damned, The Angel of Auschwitz) may not be safe when The Angel of Death (Derek Nelson, The Mutation, Pandamonium) comes calling. As I said this is extremely loosely based on actual facts so don’t expect to be able to tell the ending based on what you learned in history class.
The Haunting of the Tower of London suffers a huge blow to its credibility early in the going. It doesn’t even try to pretend it was shot at The Tower itself and we see the same ruined castle Steeds used in his previous film. It’s even less credible as a royal residence here than it was then. Most of the film is shot indoors, but every time we see this crumbling exterior more damage is done. The same with obviously modern restoration in the castle, it’s not as bad as The Siege of Robin Hood, but it still makes matters worse.
If you can get past that though there’s a lot to like about The Haunting of the Tower of London. The plot quickly goes well over the top as a dead woman rips out her rotting heart and eats it with a knife and fork. The dead princes return to take revenge. And Isaac must join forces with Henry to try and put things in order. All while Richard plots to seize the throne.
It’s all batshit insane, with plenty of gore thanks to a large cast most of whom don’t survive until the final credits. Not that that’s something that should be a surprise in a Charlie Steeds film. The effects are also quite good with plenty of ghastly spirits and murder most foul all ending with madness, torture and death in a surprisingly nihilistic ending.
If Neil Marshall’s The Reckoning had managed to summon up half as much energy and entertainment value as The Haunting of the Tower of London does he might still have a career. This is, crumbling castles aside, an extremely entertaining film with plenty of familiar faces having a great time making a bloody mess out of history.
High Fliers has released The Haunting of the Tower of London on DVD and Digital platforms in the UK. There’s no word on a US release, you can check the Dark Temple Facebook page for announcements, and you can check FilmTagger for more viewing suggestions.