Whatever Happened to the Clock Tower Movie?

Andrew PetersGames5 Comments

Old school survival horror fans may remember a little survival horror game for PlayStation back in 1996 called Clock Tower. This is back when survival horror meant you, as the player, had to struggle to survive. You had little to no weapons, most of which were just a means of self defense for a brief moment. Some areas of the game offered places for your character to hide, but if you took shelter in the same spot too much, the games baddie would wise up and find you, resulting in your grim demise. The game had two protagonists, Helen and Jennifer, both playable, but which one you play as was determined by how many times you talked to a certain character in the prologue (if my memory serves me correctly). Helen had adopted Jennifer after her family had been slain by the PlayStation equivalent of the modern slasher villain, Scissor Man, who Jennifer also presumably killed while escaping. Helen works as an assistant to psychiatrist Dr. Barton, who has just begun hypnosis on Jennifer to talk about her tragic past. Things start to go awry shortly after this and the appearance of another recent Scissor Man survivor, a young boy named Edward. It seems this boogeyman is very much alive close to home…

The game was a point and click style, allowing you to explore your environment for clues and objects that would not only determine the type of ending you would get, but also how quickly the game could end, giving you several different endings to discover. While not the greatest example of survival horror, in retrospect, it was ambitious with it’s true, almost Giallo style plot and frightening visuals and scenery, offering moody scares as well as the frequent jump scares. It was an homage to slasher flicks, allowing gamers to finally play as if they were in a horror film. We would spend hours in the dark late at night with the lights off, scaring ourselves silly.

Check out Scissor Man in action!

I wanted those of you unfamiliar with it to get an idea of what this game was like (or my impression of it) and those of you familiar with it to remember. I felt this was a great premise for grounds to build a truly creepy, atmospheric, with lots of dark shadows and moody lighting, horror film that could echo the likes of a director such as Mario Bava (wishful thinking, I know). The game did spawn two other sequels, so when a movie was finally announced just a little over a decade since the PlayStation game, you could easily assume that it would be an amalgamation of the three. In 2007, a plot synopsis was released, revealing the following details:

An Ivy League-bound high school student gets a call from her birth mother whom she as no recognition of and starts to wonder where she came from, so with her sister decides to visit her childhood home, there she uncovers what she had long buried in her mind, a force they called The Scissor Man.”

So it would seem the plot would mirror more closely to the two sequels, while only using the name Scissor Man from the first game. For die-hard fans, disappointment started right there and I know we should give a film a chance and not unfairly pass judgment before it was even made, but I think the majority of us were expecting a slasher adaptation of the original game. Not to say something different is always bad, of course. It left so many questions; So there’s no Scissor Man? Would this entity take a physical form to become Scissor Man? Why call the force Scissor Man? Is it a real person or just a name giving to something we can’t see? You can see that I was obsessed with seeing Scissor Man on the big screen. A year passed with no updates, no casting, but a little plot change:

A woman is tormented by an evil that has haunted her family for generations, but the only man who believes her is the psychiatrist she meets in a mental institution. Together they must find the source of her family’s damnation and then fight for their lives until the curse is finally laid to rest.”

So now the story resembles the plot more closely to the first game than it’s sequels, which began to generate more interest from fans. Not only that, but this movie finally seemed to be happening. G4 TV’s (replaced by TechTV) Attack of the Show! had announced that The Weinstein was behind its’ production, combining elements from all three games and The Hill’s Have Eyes 2 remake director Martin Weisz was set to direct. Later in the year, actress Brittany Snow was said to be playing the lead with Milla Jovovich in a supporting role (later to be confirmed as only a rumor) and filming was to begin at the end of the year and (best of all) Scissor Man would be appearing in the film. However, his identity and back story were to change, but hey… we got Scissor Man, right?

How do you alienate fans of series? Change everything you know about the iconic character. I understand wanting to add subtle changes to give fans something different rather than carbon copying, but this sort of thing tends to generate outcry and hatred in the horror/video game community. But this is the least of the issues for the moment. Shortly after Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group obtained the rights that following November, they pushed back production, but also gave the fans a little candy to drool over in the meantime… we didn’t get one, or two, or even three teaser posters… but eight! Eight teaser posters to titillate us with as we waited in anticipation for the first behind the scenes photo or trailer. Most of the posters showed a clock tower, so we could assume that (naturally) a clock tower would have something to do with the premise or perhaps they were being really literal. Other posters were showing off a man being rung inside the clock tower bell, resembling an 80’s horror film poster, a woman and intertwined with clocks somehow (okay, now it seems like they are taking the titles quite literally) and fan favorites, a few that featured a Scissor Man, crossing two larger knives to form a pair of scissors (like the antagonists in Clock Tower 3) hidden mostly behind shadows, as to obscure any details of his identity. We wondered if that is what he would look like, but this was just promotional material to generate interest. Too bad this is as far as we would ever come to seeing a live-action Scissor Man.

Further and further back the release date was pushed, all the way to 2011, where director Martin Weisz announced it, “officially in limbo.” By this point, three years have passed and it was starting to look bleak for the film. No more casting news, no changes in plot or filming schedules, just that it was in limbo. That is until Martin Weisz was dropped from the project and David R. Ellis, who directed Snakes on a Plane, was brought in giving us a tentative release date of October 2013, just the right season for Clock Tower. Unfortunately that January of 2013, David R. Ellis was found dead in his South Africa hotel room. The project once again had no director, leaving the film to continue to hang in limbo, where it currently resides.

It’s been several years since the film has been trying to get off the ground and nearly twenty years since the first game was released, so the burning question is, “would there still be any interest?” After a film has had long delays over the course of several years and the last game was released twelve years ago, it’s hard to say. Maybe. Maybe not. At this point, the chances are unlikely, seeing as how most people don’t remember the game or even if they do, don’t seem to care anymore. As for me, I would still love to see the Scissor Man (and the first game) be adapted into a tense and suspenseful horror film.

What do you think? Should they still try to make a live adaptation or leave this one buried in the rubble of the Barrow’s castle?

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