Prolific B-movie producer and writer Harry Alan Towers, who made more than 100 films working with cult stalwarts such as Christopher Lee and director Jess Franco, died Aug. 2 of heart failure in Toronto. He was 88.
Known for his sometimes questionable practices, Towers was one of the first to use tactics that would later become commonplace in the international film business: shooting in far-flung, low-priced locales; casting European actors to appeal to various territories; preselling rights to packages of films at the Cannes film market; and using material in the public domain to cut costs.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Towers wrote and produced dozens of films, sometimes credited as Peter Welbeck. Among the actors he worked with were Orson Welles, Michael York, Michael Caine, Richard Harris, James Earl Jones and Tony Curtis.
Towers often shot in locations such as South Africa, Ireland and Bulgaria on films such as “The Face of Fu Manchu,” the Iran-lensed “Ten Little Indians,” South African classic adaptation “Cry the Beloved Country” and “Klondike Fever.”
The low-budget films were frequently literary adaptations of such writers as Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, Agatha Christie and Edgar Wallace.
His association with Italian giallo auteur Franco produced films that have become underground classics, including “Venus in Furs,” “Eugenie,” “Marquis de Sade: Justine” and “Night of the Blood Monster.”
Capitalizing on the industry’s need for video titles during the 1980s and early 1990s, Towers provided a steady pipeline of pics such as Robert Englund starrers “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Dance Macabre,” “Warrior Queen” and “Delta Force 3.”
Towers started as a child actor in Britain. During WWII, he became a radio writer while serving in the Royal Air Force. After the war he and his mother started a company called Towers of London to sell syndicated radio shows around the world, and he went on to produce numerous programs for British television including “The Scarlet Pimpernel” and “Tales From Dickens.”
His literary agent, Albert T. Longden, said he was working on an autobiography. Recently, Towers had been working on setting up an adaptation of “Moll Flanders.”
He is survived by his wife, actress Maria Rohm.