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King of the Castle (1977)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Grammar school scholarship choirboy Roland Wright sings his rather weak and under-rehearsed choral solo, much to the consternation of demented and imposing music master Dr Spurgeon.

Spurgeon takes Roland aside after class to give him a dressing down. Roland has been reading a comic in choir lessons and Spurgeon decries it as trash, ripping up the comic in front of Roland. He explains that Roland is a machine through which the voice of God can pass - if that machine does not work it can be scrapped.

Roland's family have moved to the top floor of a tower block. The lift is out of order again, due to vandalism and engineers are working on it. Roland must take the stairs and although he dashes up flight after flight hoping to avoid any entanglements he is stopped just short of Floor 10 by the menacing Ripper and his gang.

Ripper tears up Matthew's music and tosses it down the stairs. When Matthew answers back, Ripper tears the boy's blazer pocket and humiliates him into begging to be let past.

At home Roland's stepmother is complaining that she still finds it difficult to relate to the boy but dad hardly seems to be listening, intent on playing his saxophone. Still, he is not pleased to hear that Roland's blazer is damaged and his sheet music torn. Mum complains that after all the council form-filling they had to do, this is the best place they could get, living with hooligans.

Dad is playing a gig that night, so the boy helps him take his gear down to the car. The lift is still out of order, meaning Roland faces going back upstairs alone. The janitor hands him some tools he'd like given back to the lift engineers.

Unfortunately Roland is cornered on the stairs by Ripper's gang. Roland pulls out a Stanley knife from the workmen's toolkit and threatens Ripper with it. Ripper pulls a flick knife. The police make their way upstairs to investigate a disturbance and when they come across Roland and Ripper a melee ensues. Roland leaps into the out of order lift to escape and it plunges downwards, throwing him to the floor. After a dizzying drop, the lift crashes to a halt in the basement. It appears to be a dusty, gothic dungeon. A nearby door handle begins to turn - who or what is behind it?