Welcome to a new, Halloween-centric feature, trick 'r treaters! The Arrow in the Head staff (along with some special guests) will be recommending obscure fright flicks throughout the month of October, hopefully enhancing your "31 Days of Horror"! Welcome to UNSEEN HALLOWEEN! (See previous entries HERE!)
PLOT: A group of forest rangers wander deep into the woods, only to be confronted by an animalistic psycho. Desperate, they must fight back and try and survive THE FINAL TERROR!
REVIEW: Back in the Eighties, you just didnít go camping. Why? Well, if you look at the horror flicks from that era, the forest was filled to the brim with scary psychopaths and monsters. THE FINAL TERROR wasnít terribly original, but there is something about it that has stuck with me throughout the years. Catching it years ago on cable, the simplicity of it entertained the hell out of me. It also helped that the campers themselves were sort of likable and the weapon of choice was certainly original. So much so one of my young pals who had watched it before me had described in detail how cool the metal lids were when it came to horror movie kills - come on, we were young and our little minds thrilled at the thought†that a can of peaches could be so deadly. So how well does this legendary flick - at least for us - hold up.
Shot on location in the Redwood forest - at the height of the slasher craze back in 1981 -†this atmospheric tale of terror wasnít released until 1983. Recently, the fine folks at Shout! Factory released this cult classic (?) on Blu-Ray and you know what? It still holds up. Directed by Andrew Davis (ABOVE THE LAW, THE FUGITIVE, UNDER SIEGE), the impressive location and a creepy killer help make this cheapie better than it should be. Sure the kills arenít terribly impressive, but the way the killer†becomes part of nature and hides in the shadows works on a number of levels. For a slasher film, it is better than youíd expect visually speaking. However, the lighting can be an issue, especially one important sequence that takes place on a school bus. This sequence is so dark that it is a little more chaotic than actually tension fueled.
Another factor that stands out in this killer-in-the-woods-flick is the cast. You had such up-and-coming actresses like Daryl Hannah and Rachel Ward, plus Adrian Zmed from GREASE 2 and T.J. Hooker fame (the other William Shatner series). It also stars a couple of strong character actors. Both Joe Pantoliano and Mark Metcalf do good work on opposite sides of the horror spectrum. Pantoliano is especially creepy as a sort of red herring named Eggar. They even threw in a couple of solid leading men including Lewis Smith who recently made an appearance in Quentin Tarantinoís DJANGO UNCHAINED. Having a decent group of actors lost in the dark forest, on the run from a killer is a nice change of pace from a number of similar†Eighties horror features. Yeah, I sort of cared what happened to these campers.
On the dull edge of the blade, there is very little in the gore department. Seemingly, this may have been hurt by the MPAA. Or perhaps Davis avoided going the gore route as it isnít particularly bloody. And the final act is fun and†a bit unusual, as the survivors really try and fight back. These campers†donít just sit around having sex and getting slaughtered, they kick a bit of ass. Ironically enough, the supervisors of the group are the ones getting frisky and facing the consequences. And unlike FRIDAY THE 13th, there arenít a ton of kills so the body count is comparatively low. Again, at least they arenít all dummies wandering off and going into dark places knowing full well there is a killer on the loose.
THE FINAL TERROR may not be fine art, but it has an atmospheric quality that†will please a lot of old-school†slasher movie fans. You have to admire a director trying to do something a little smarter, and a cast of characters that arenít complete morons - at least not all the time. If you are looking for a fun FRIDAY THE 13th style scare this Halloween, this is one that you may enjoy getting lost in.
BEST BLOODY BITS: If you are looking to satiate your need for gore, this is not the place to do it. Aside from a fellow named Jimmy getting sliced up in the beginning, and some poor sap getting his naked back cut up, there isn't too much going on blood wise. This is all about the atmosphere.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Thanks goes out to Shout! Factory for releasing this campfire classic last year... Gotta love that company and all the genre goodness they bring to us. This is especially true when it comes to forgotten Eighties slasher flicks. You can find it on Amazon here†and it is also available everywhere on VOD.
- Did you catch the creature slithering around in the forest? Take a swig.
- Have another if what is happening on-screen gets lost on you because it is too damn dark.
- Whenever Eggar gets all creepy... nah, you'd be wasted within the first fifteen minutes.