Picks and Pans Review: Tower of Terror

UPDATED 10/27/1997 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 10/27/1997 at 01:00 AM EST

ABC (Sun., Oct. 26, 7 p.m. ET)

D+

Here's a first: a Wonderful World of Disney TV movie based on a Disney World amusement-park ride and airing on a Disney-owned network. Can you say "synergy," kids? For anyone who hasn't experienced the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, be warned: DW visitors can spend up to two hours in lines that snake around the lush grounds and spooky interiors of the deserted Hollywood Tower Hotel. The payoff: a stomach-churning, 13-story drop in a "runaway" elevator. The movie version, though it builds to the same climax, is a lot tamer. Here, we spend two hours following Steve Guttenberg (and where has he been since his Three Men and a Baby-sitting days?) as an L.A. supermarket tabloid hack investigating the mysterious, long-ago disappearance of five guests from, yes, that hotel. On Halloween night, 1939, all were riding the elevator to the top floor when—shazaam!—a malefactor's evil curse zapped them into the spirit world. Now they're doomed to haunt the long-since-condemned hotel for all eternity, unless Guttenberg—aided by his perky teenage niece (Kirsten Dunst, the child fangster from 1994's Interview with the Vampire)—can somehow reverse the curse. Alas, with ghosts as cute as Casper, the scares are all too scarce, the dialogue inane and the outcome treacly. Pray that Disney doesn't follow up with It's a Small World After All: The Movie.

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