TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE FINAL TERROR (1983)

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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.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) blades.

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: DEAD AND BURIED (1981)

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DEAD AND BURIED (1981)

80s horror written by Alien scribes Ron Shusett and Dan O’Bannon seems to have developed a reputation and a cult following since it’s unremarkable release back in 1981…but is that rep and following well deserved? In my opinion…not really.

The story finds a series of murders perpetrated against visitors in the small town of Potter’s Bluff and the efforts of Sheriff Dan Gillis (James Farentino) to solve them. The more Gillis investigates, the more bizarre a direction the evidence seems to lead him. Worse still, the more it starts to appear the locals he’s known all his life are not who, or what, they seem and the town’s kindly mortician (Jack Albertson) might be at the center of it. Will Dan be able to solve the case, or will it be the death of him?

Flick has an atmosphere that is a bit unsettling throughout and a nice visual style, but that’s all director Gary Sherman (Vice Squad, Poltergeist III) accomplishes, as his direction is rather flat. He creates no suspense for the proceedings and no impact to the gory kill sequences. All the victims are introduced moments before their deaths, so they are just subjects for Stan Winston’s gore effects. Sherman also evokes very little in terms of performance from his cast and while the townspeople’s trance-like demeanor might be on purpose, that doesn’t explain everybody else. The dialog is terrible at times and the basic story of a strange little town where out-of-towners are offed with bloody regularity, is nothing new, though, the climactic revelation is a bit spooky and different. You can at least give it that.

There is a good cast here which, aside from Farentino and Albertson, also includes Melody Anderson as Gillis’ wife, and familiar faces Lisa Blount (Prince Of Darkness), Barry Corbin (WarGames) and Robert Englund (Do I need to tell you where you’ve seen him?), but they aren’t utilized to maximum effect and it’s a shame. With it’s premise and the direction the story leads, there could have been a really good movie here, had the film been in hands that had a better idea of what to do with it.

An odd little movie that doesn’t quite accomplish much else than being moody, atmospheric and weird though, Buried is still off the beaten path from the run-of-the-mill slasher flicks that were popular at the time. By today’s standards Dead And Buried is quite dated, tame and slow moving, but for horror fans it’s definitely worth a curiosity viewing, just don’t expect the hidden classic some make it out to be.

-MonsterZero NJ

rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) hypodermic needles.

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WARNING: Trailer is graphic and contains spoilers if you haven’t seen this flick…

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