01 October 2014

(1981)

The Final Terror ranks as one of the stronger "second tier" slashers from the halcyon heyday of 1980s splatter outings.

Starring a pre-Splash Daryl Hannah, Night School beauty Rachel Ward and then-heartthrob Adrian Zmed (TV's TJ Hooker), The Final Terror benefits from strong, realistic performances and an effective backwoods ethos a la Friday the 13th.

Filmed in 1981 (and released in '83) The Final Terror also masquerades as Campsite Massacre and Forest Primevil.

Often criticized as 'routine' and 'by the book' (no doubt by those viewers who were expecting Madame Bovary), The Final Terror musters a handful of well-done surprises and maintains a generally forboding sense of Deliverance-style atmosphere.

The plot hinges on a group of forest rangers and their girlfriends who sojourn into the wild woods for a few days' hiking, camping and vacation fun. Once there, our posse of visitors finds nature not so kind, when a killer (well-disguised in branches and leaves) picks them off one by one.

Notable highlights include several key scenes. Retreating to their bus for a night's safety and some well-deserved sleep, the characters are terrorized by the mostly-unseen killer...who torments them by scampering along the thin metal rooftop of the vehicle, smashing windows.

Another exceptional sequence involves the killer's messy (and decidedly 'unfinal') job with Hannah. Her neck deeply slashed open, a still quite alive Hannah undergoes some makeshift surgery at the hand of Ward...who stiches back her friend's throat as best she can. Nicely done.

Special mention should be made of the limited shots of the psycho, an efficient and intelligent choice that heightens the action and assists in producing the creepy atmosphere. Camouflage, indeed.

While one could make a case that The Final Terror retreads by-then familiar territory, nevertheless it remains a confident entry. Self assured and yet unpretentious. A fun-filled romp through the wild unknown, with a climax that gives us not only our first real glimpse of the killer...but also a finality to the campers' trip of terror.

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