THE FINAL TERROR (1983)
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The Final Terror is a fairly entertaining 80s slasher that follows the formula closely and is probably more renown for the talent involved, who would go on to bigger and better things. The story finds a group of forest rangers (including future stars Rachel Ward and Daryl Hannah) going on a trip to a remote part of a dense wooded area to clear some streams of debris. They are warned by creepy bus driver Eggar (another future star, Joe Pantoliano) not to…and it turns out for a good reason. Someone…or something…is lurking in those woods and starts to claim the lives of the young forest rangers, one by one. Now it’s a fight for survival against an unseen foe who wants them all dead!
Film is written by three people (including Alien co-scribe Ron Shusett) and directed well by Andrew Davis who would achieve success directing high-profile action flicks like Under Siege and The Fugitive. There is a moderate pace, which was normal for films of this era and Davis achieves a nice atmosphere of foreboding and some decent suspense. He also gives the film a nice visual style, multi-tasking by doing the cinematography as well. There is also an atmospheric and very 80s electronic score by Susan Justin, who did the score for Corman’s 1982 Forbidden World. There is some generous bloodshed, though nothing overly gory, nor is the body count all that high. This flick was filmed in 1981 before body count and outrageous kills became the status quo and took two years to find distribution. Like most of the slashers of this era, the story has a character with an unstable past being our prime suspect, with a disturbing reveal in the last act…though one we’re not completely shocked by. It’s a nice combination of slasher and wilderness survival flick that may not be a true classic, but may be a bit better, with the added nostalgia, than initially given credit for.
The cast is a mix of future stars and familiar faces. The performances are all adequate, but none indicate that some of our rangers will hone their craft well in future projects. Aside from outright soon-to-be stars like Ward, Hannah and Joe Pantoliano, we also have familiar faces like Mark Metcalf (Animal House, TV’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer), T.J. Hooker’s Adrian Zmed, Lewis Smith (Buckaroo Banzai) and John Friedrich who worked prolifically on TV. Again, no one really stands out here, but some of them went on to successful careers after, including the director. It gives the film an added nostalgic element like the similar The Burning, which had it’s own future stars in it’s cast.
Overall, it’s not a great movie or an outright classic horror, but it is an entertaining 80s slasher and one that would yield quite a few talents that would garner future fame or notoriety in other films or TV. It has some nice atmosphere and some decent kills and combines a traditional slasher with a wilderness survival flick. It is very 80s and would probably make a nice double feature with Don Coscarelli’s Survival Quest or the before mentioned The Burning.