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July 13, 2014

Movie Review: The Final Terror (Blu-ray / DVD, 1983)

There have been several sub-genres that have spawned from the glorious slasher film craze of the 80’s.  We've seen the school slasher, abandoned house slasher, the religious slasher and other varieties of genre films thrill moviegoers looking for some good ol’ fashion bloodshed in there horror. The “backwoods” slasher was another fun form that brought the unforgiving aspect of being alone in the wild with a maniac killer. For a good stretch of time this seemed like a great way to scare the pants off people. Some of the more popular of that ilk would include James Bryan’s Don’t Go in the Woods…Alone, Rituals, The Forest, Just Before Dawn, GeekBack Woods and Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of Andrew Davis’ The Final Terror.

When a group young hikers (including Rachael Ward, John Friedrich  Adrien Zmed and a and a pre-Splash Daryll Hannah) take a bus trip into the wilderness for a good time things become extremely difficult for the kids when one of the group member pisses off their bus driver and guide, Eggar (Joe Pantoliano, Risky Business, The Sopranos). Now it’s up to them to find a way out of an area they know nothing about. After one of the hikers is found dead after getting machete while doing the naughty things get pretty serious. Oddly enough, instead of going separate way like similar horror films this band of pals stay together and choose to seek out the psycho.

The acting may surprise some expecting camp because it’s actually quite good – specifically by Joe Pantoliano who plays the rotten-toothed Eggar as good as any of his future roles like that of Guido “The Killer Pimp”. He’s very funny but he’s still dead serious as the inbred travel guide. Daryll Hannah and Ward, although they don’t lose their clothes, are still very nice to look at and Adrian Zmed isn’t too shabby as Marco.

During some points in The Final Terror you can see where some later films like the Wrong Turn trilogy may have borrowed aspects. The killer’s house of horrors among the mile high trees shows of some particularly gruesome set-pieces like that of severed limbs and various body parts of victims that should keep viewers looking for a splash of grue happy. There some spots where the film drags but there’s enough suspense and some very impressive direction by Andrew Davis who definitely shows why he became one of the more prolific action film directors of the 90’s.

Just opening of the film of Scream Factory has message about how the original film elements were not available but they did their due diligence in going through the best prints to create this restoration. It’s not stunning as compared to say a Scream Factory's excellent Sleepaway Camp but considering the source material and the effort by Scream Factory it looks just fine.

The extra features are strong here as we get a few interviews with cast members and a solid audio commentary by director Andrew Davis. The featurette with Adrien Zmed, Lewis Smith, post production supervisor Allan Holzman and composer Susan Justin is actually quite informative and enjoyable. Zmed has some nice stories about his interaction with Pantoliano and how he was really a funny guy and kept things light on the set. One interesting tidbit is how he felt about the technically strong Andrew Davis and his ability to be great with actors as opposed to them being breathing props.

The Final Terror is a whole heap of fun with consistent suspense to boot. It may make you think twice before you make that next camping trip.

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