FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE...beware yon spoilers!

Oct 22, 2005

Day 22- Identity Crisis

Oh, Final Terror, you are a confusing piece of work. I don't know when this movie was made- imdb.com says 1983, another site says 1981, and the box says 1984. Take your pick, I suppose. And if you don't like the title The Final Terror, then feel free to call it by one of these alternate titles: Bump in the Night, Campsite Massacre, Carnivore, The Creeper, The Forest Primeval, or Three Blind Mice.

When the tape arrived the other day, I read the box and thought "Hmm...that doesn't really tell me anything but useless trivia, does it?". See for yourself:
"Beautiful actresses Daryl Hannah (minus her "Splash" mermaid costume) and Rachel Ward, who were once actually roommates in Hollywood, join up again along with sexy Adrian Zmed (T.J. Hooker) in this ghoulish tale of murder and the macabre from the creator of "Alien"."
Yup, there's actual celebrities in this flick- not earning a box credit is Joe Pantoliano, who sports a southern accent that comes and goes, and Mark Metcalf, from Animal House and that Twisted Sister video everyone loved back in the day.

What we've got is a bunch of people in the woods, although I'm really sure, still, what they were doing there, or why. The guys and girls (with the exception of the 2 troop leaders) are meeting for the first time on this trip, and I have no clue why they were going camping together. I don't even know if they were supposed to be camping. Who are these people? Are they forestry workers? Convicts? Exchange students? Eh, it matters not. They all end up in the woods, lined up for a killer who looks like a big pile of matted hair. Imagine if Chewbacca went grey and had stopped brushing himself years ago, and you'll get the idea. "Lined up for a killer", I say, but despite the fairly large cast, the body count is the lowest I think I've ever seen in a slasher. Actually, this movie is less a slasher than it is a Deliverance-style survival movie. But don't worry, there's none of those Ed Beatty style scenes to make you uncomfortable- phew! Like one character says (I'm not even sure of their names, to be truthful- this movie was really confusing), mystically: "If you people wanna survive this thing, you gotta start looking and thinking like the forest.". Looking like the forest means putting leaves in your hair. Thinking like the forest is never explained.

Now, despite all this, I kinda liked this movie. Parts of it I liked ALOT. The score really enhanced the atmosphere throughout, as did the graininess. I know that's just due to the low budget, but as it helped The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the film grain helps establish mood here. Much of the movie is dark, which at times simply means you can't see what's going on, but at other times it makes things quite spooky- several scenes are lit exclusively with flashlights, which is almost always a welcome effect. The killer is shown very little throughout, which I like- the less you see, the scarier they usually are. There's the old creepy cabin in the woods, of course, and it's a right yucky place filled with jars of gross stuff and various unidentifiable piles of meat lying around. The ending, while abrupt, was shocking.

This is one of those movies that's thisclose to being really, really good. It's the variety that frustrates me so much. Rather than simply writing it off, I sit and think of all the things that would've made it better. Firstly, The Final Terror really needed a more coherent story. When I literally don't know what's going on, that's a bad sign. A higher body count would've helped, as well. A good hour or so goes by and no one dies, despite some close calls. More action, less rafting, please! It coulda been a contendah, but in the end I gotta give it 5 out of 10 WTF?s.
Daryl Hannah, sporting macrame hair:
a popular style at the time

5 comments:

Michael Murphy said...

The Final Terror has those scattered copyright dates because it was filmed in 1981 and immediately shelved. It wasleft in limbo until both Hannah and Zmed developed marketable careers in '84. I recall the People Magazine reviewer giving it a thumbs down at the time (what was People doing reviewing a slasher film? Feh.)

Stacie Ponder said...

I am SHOCKED that People would give this a bad review! Gee, I'd think their demographic would be really into slasher movies.

Thanks for solving the mystery!!

Anonymous said...

This movie relies heavily on atmosphere and with regards to that, it's pretty good. I too am confused by the story, but I kind of enjoy an idiot-man-child like performance out of Joey Pants. It's not bad, but still miles ahead of most new horror films.

Amanda By Night

Anonymous said...

This movie barely qualifies as a horror film, simply because it is so incoherent. If you thought Friday the 13th depended on stupid victims, the slacker killer in this film would literally be lost in the woods without them. The fact that Darryl Hannah and Joe Pantoliano were in this movie is inexplicable, and I'm sure they would cringe if someone brought up the title.

Typical stupid moment: the inbred idiot killer gets on the bus in the woods to kill them, then gets trapped inside with the crowd of would-be victims outside. He starts poking at them with a sharp metal pole from inside the bus. This is their chance to kill him. What do they do? Pick up rocks and stone the moron to death when he tries to get out of the bus? No, they're so scared they all run away from the guy poking the stick at them from inside the bus, as they yell plans to each other as to what to do if he follows them!
If that makes no sense, you have a feel for the movie. Oh, it also has the typical "we're running out of film, better kill the monster with a stupid plot device" ending, in the last 30 seconds. Literally.
The psycho walks out in the open to get killed.

Why am I even wasting the energy to review this waste of celluloid? I guess because my time was wasted, and to prevent others from wasting theirs.
There's nothing (not even coherency) in this film.

Dead In Hell said...

I just watched this one, and despite the many flaws it does have some value. It starts slow, it's hard to tell just who the hell these people are or what they're doing, or what in the holy heck is up with their accents, but when things get moving towards the end it was actually pretty decent. I applaud the film for that rare feat of having the cast figure out what's going on before there's only 2 people left alive. It creates a very different kind of final act.

I might be a bit less kind if I weren't directly comparing this one to Don't Go Into the Woods, which is in many ways the same film but without the high standards of quality...