Sunday, June 29, 2014

THE FINAL TERROR (1983)

THE FINAL TERROR (1983) 
Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A
MPAA Rating: R
Duration: 82 Minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono with Optional Subtitles
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.78:1)
Director: Andrew Davis
Cast: Adrian Zmed, Daryl Hannah, Rachel Wood, Mark Metcalf, Ernest Harden Jr., Joe Pantoliano, John Friedrich



In the vintage backwoods slasher THE FINAL TERROR (1983) a group of troubled youth head into the wilderness to clean-up the woods and and some naughty good times with minimal adult supervision and a demented bus driver. As the day wears on the smoke some grass and go skinny-dipping, before they settle down for the night for the traditional campfire tale of an escaped mental patient and her incestuous offspring with the expected jump scare at the end. what these teens don't know is that there's actually a killer is actually lurking among the trees with an uncanny ability to blend into the surroundings. The camouflage  aspect is a cool addition as the killer is creep up on the campers without notice. It's not long before the group realize that certain members have wandered from the camp and have not returned and then the heads start to roll. The creepy killer stalks the woods using a unique bladed weapon to dispatch the horny teens one at a time to great effect - even if the kills themselves are not super-gory the set-ups are quite decent.

Set in the majestic redwood forest the film sets-up some great views with some skillful cinematography - it a better shot film than most of the slashers of the time. The film is a kindred spirit to other survival-horror films JUST BEFORE DAWN and RITUALS and is on par and maybe slightly better than either. Director Andrew Davis performed second duty as the cinematographer on set and would go on to direct the mega-blockbuster THE FUGITIVE with Harrison Ford - even at this stage of his career you can see the quality of his craft and the film benefits from it.

THE FINAL TERROR is an eerie and slow-burn with some sweet visceral violence but apparently the producers thought it was so slow they put it on a shelf for a few years until Daryl Hannah made it big with BLADE RUNNER. Hoping to exploit the star's minor role in this entry the producers tagged on an unnecessary prologue which awkwardly bumped up the body count by two. The handful of remaining deaths are not gory in execution but the set-ups are tense and quite effective. One scene that stands out is the assault on the bus with the killer smashing in the windows in an attempt to get at the teens inside - a very atmospheric and tense situation.

The cast is top notch with a slew of first-timers and future stars including a pre-BLADE RUNNER Daryl Hannah and Joe Pantoliano (MEMENETO) plus the douche from ANIMAL HOUSE. Everyone turns in a solid performance even if most of the young ladies don't have meaty roles. The standout here is Pantoliano as the agitated bus driver who seems a bit off from the beginning and only gets worse as the film roles along before disappearing for a large chunk of the movie.

The original negative and film elements are thought to be lost so what Scream Factory have done here is stitched together a new HD master from six prints of the film sourced from collectors. Keeping that in mind I found the image to be surprisingly consistent throughout though marred by flickering and other imperfections such as vertical lines,, cigarette burns and speckling. Whatever digital manipulation used to clean-up the film we are left with a fairly consistent grain structure with some minor depth and fine detail in certain scenes. The only audio option is the DTS-HD Master Audio Mono which is clean and  does a good job of exporting the dialogue and Susan Justin's eerie synth score including a great main title theme. Optional English SDH subtitles are provided on the disc. 

Special features on the disc include a new audio commentary with director Andrew Davis who speaks at length about the cast and location with a few fun anecdotes about the production such as how the prologue added by producer Samuel Z. Arkoff ended up paying for his wedding. There are also new interviews with actors Adrien Zmed and Lewis Smith plus the husband and wife duo of production supervisor Allan Holzman and composer Susan Justin. .

THE FINAL TERROR is strong backwoods slasher with an interesting killer and a creepy vibe set in the gorgeous redwood forest. This gets a definite recommend for fans of the kindred RITUALS and JUST BEFORE DAWN who are looking for an above average slasher entry with some strong survival-horror elements. 






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