Every month I grow more and more amazed at how many great slasher films I missed growing up. My constant reminder is Scream Factory as they continue to churn out one restored 1980s slasher film after the next. The latest pleasant surprise to get the high-definition treatment is 1983’s “The Final Terror.”
A group of young campers travel into the wilderness to perform community service. After getting settled in at their remote site, the group is left by their bus driver (Joe Pantoliano) to get to work. After a hard day of labor, many of the workers explore the woods. One by one, the bodies start piling up. Someone is slaughtering the group and, with no way out, it looks like they’re left to fend for themselves from an unseen evil.
“The Final Terror” is exactly what it sounds like. It’s an old-fashioned slasher thriller where there’s a nutcase in the woods taking out sexually active pot-smoking teens. What makes it work is the fact that it’s very survivalist-based. The campers are thrown into primal situations where they either do what they have to do to stay alive or die. Another reason it works is because of the time period it was made in and its setting. The group is isolated out in the middle of nowhere and not only do they not have cell phones, but the technology wasn't readily available yet.
The death scenes in “The Final Terror” are rather convincing. The movie has a certain “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” charm to it. It feels like it could really happen and puts you in the middle of all the mayhem. The most intense moments occur when the bodies are found. You’d think the director didn’t tell the actors where the corpses were on the set and they just ran into them by chance. Their reactions are very believable and it’s where we get to see the most carnage.
The movie features two actors in the early stages of their careers. Adrian Zmed plays a studly rebel who wants in on the pot crop two of his associates are looking for. The role foreshadows his future career playing the same type of cocky, party animal characters he did in “Bachelor Party,” “Grease 2,” and other movies of the era. Daryl Hannah plays a teen who just wants to make the most of her time off from community service by hanging out and smoking some weed. Joe Pantoliano (“The Matrix,” “The Fugitive”) plays the creepy mechanic / bus driver that leaves the group stranded in the wilderness.
The Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack for “The Final Terror” was built from several different film elements. I give the restorers props for going to the trouble I know they went through to piece together this edition of the cult classic. I would imagine it looks as good as it possibly can for what the actual film footage went through over the years. There’s a lot of lighting flicker, but it adds to the low-budget independent atmosphere of the movie. We’re treated to a DTS-HD Master Audio Mono transfer as far as the sound goes.
“The Final Terror” is rated R for graphic violence, gore, language, sexual situations, and nudity. The bloodshed is highlighted many times when the bodies are found, although there are scenes of violence present onscreen. The sex scene is what you would expect from a slasher film released in the early 1980s.
Scream Factory packs “The Final Terror” Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack with plenty of entertaining bonus material as expected. Actors Adrian Zmed and Lewis Smith, Post Production Supervisor Allan Holzman, and Composer Susan Justin all provide interviews. Director Andrew Davis delivers audio commentary for the feature film. A theatrical trailer is included as well.
Although it’s rather predictable and plays out the way you figure it will, “The Final Terror” still holds the viewer’s attention and deserves respect simply because of its storytelling process. You know what’s going to happen, but the journey to get there in this case is worth the trip. Great location shooting, solid camerawork, and convincing practical effects are the icing on the cake.
"The Final Terror" Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack is available now right here.