This little-known slasher may be lost to history if not for the work of Shout Factory and their dedication to horror posterity.
A mixed group of campers plan to spend a night in the woods but find out a deranged killer lurks in hiding and tries to pick them off one by one. Let’s dig into 1983’s “The Final Terror”, directed by Andrew Davis!
As I See It
Sometimes the hunt is the most exciting part. I think the same can be said for the process of compiling this film for a high definition release. The end result may have been an underwhelming slasher flick, but the process of acquiring a horde of remaining prints is a more compelling story than the killing that plays out on screen.
The prologue sets up a threat of some crazed killer, but it’s not even in line with the style of murders that play out later on. A doomed couple of the motorcycle is killed by booby traps, not the MO of the cloaked executioner.
Once our teens are in the woods and the requisite campfire horror tale is out of the way, nothing is done to keep weaving threads of connection to this foreshadowing story.
The tension of a stalking lethal threat comes in almost as an afterthought. Once it does, the promise of the premise is never followed through on. The twist ending is not well thought out but one saving grace is a brilliant shot of the killer swinging on the spikes of a booby trap.
There are some decent performances, but mostly underutilized talent with no clear leader leaves the whole film with a dispassionate ichor.
Daryl Hannah would go on to be a household name after movies like Splash, and has stayed in the pop culture foreground for decades with roles in Kill Bill Volume 1 and 2. But much like most of the actors in this film, she hardly had an impact in this production, through no fault of her own.
Joe Pantoliano stars as the troubled and sadistic Eggar. Maniacal characters always come easy to Joey Pants, and this film is no different. He’s a great villain in films like The Goonies and The Matrix. With Award-level acting throughout his entire career, he has criminally only one Emmy in his trophy case.
Mark Metcalf (Mike) played Niedermayer in National Lampoon’s Animal House.
John Friedrich (Dennis Zorich) played Joey in one of my favorite films of all time, The Wanderers.
Of Gratuitous Nature
For thirty-five-plus minutes, there is no external threat, just squabbles within the groups of campers. The age-old trope of killing young people for fornicating results in killing off two of the strongest characters and has an enigmatic impact for no good reason other than to push a twist towards the end that isn’t effective.
With a bunch of handsome young adults in the woods, the cast is filled with beautiful people. But no one really takes the reins as the lead protagonist, leaving little indentations but nothing more.
Ripe for a Remake
There’s nothing terribly unique about the story. It’s a bit Predator (ensemble cast), and a bit White Water Summer, but the point of the story is muddy. It’s more a reason to kill some teens in the woods, yet the body count is low. Not worth another incantation.
No progeny to report.
Where to Watch
Shout Factory painstakingly released a Blu-ray brought together from six different film prints that were in the hands of private collectors as no original material from the film survived. For the amount of work they put into bringing this slasher to life, it’s well worth the sale price. You can also stream from Amazon Prime, Tubi, and Popcorn Flix.