The Final Terror
Without knowing they have awakened an unknown force...
Year of Release: 1983
Also Known As: Campite Massacre, Carnivore
Running Time: 82 minutes (1:22)
Director: Andrew Davis
John Friedrich ... Dennis Zorich
Adrian Zmed ... Marco Cerone
Ernest Harden Jr. ... Nathaniel Hines
Lewis Smith ... Boone
Rachel Ward ... Margaret
Daryl Hannah ... Windy Morgan
Akosua Busia ... Vanessa
Mark Metcalf ... Mike
Cindy Harrell ... Melanie
Joe Pantoliano ... Eggar
Anthony Maccario ... Eggar's Mother
A group of young campers out for what they hope will be a fun-filled weekend find their plans spoiled by a disguised, merciless killer who stalks the forest in search of new victims. Soon they are caught in a terrifying web of bloodshed and murder. It is up to the remaining few to defend themselves and put an end to the terror-filled weekend.
The Final Terror, the movie that raises the question: is it still an "urban legend" when it involves an area where cows outnumber people 10:1? Is it a "rural legend?" Either way, I feel like all this labelin' of folk tales is only servin' to widen the urban/rural cultural divide. Why can't we just call it "local supernatural bullstuff" an be done with it?
An speakin' of rural persecution, straight outta the "things you thought you'd never hear" category on Jeopardy!, we got great news outta the state capitol this week: it's now perfectly legal to collect any disgustin' dead thing you smoosh crossin' the highway with your truck for culinary purposes. It ain't really even the whole permission aspect that makes this legislation so special, cause everybody raised around here's been spatulatin' carcasses off the road for years, naw, it's the destigmatization that's so heartening. See, before, if you scooped up a deer with insides that looked like strawberry rhubarb pie fillin', you were basically one step up from Richard Kiel in Eegah, but now we don't gotta be ashamed no more. It'll also make it a lotta fun to invite your relatives from Reno up to visit an really freak 'em out by refusin' to tell 'em where supper came from. Seriously though, *this* is how you make America great again... course, it took a chamber fulla liberals to make it happen, but let's not dwell on that. Billy Hilliard an I were so excited that we drove over to Bondo's to pick up some scrap metal so we could get to work weldin' together the world's first mobile slaughterhouse an BBQ adapter for your truck. We got it all figured out: first thing we did is mount sharpened, barbed tent poles that extend two feet out in front of the truck onto an old cattle guard an then weld it onto the front of Billy's 1980 GMC Sierra. This way the barbs'll keep the deer from squirmin' off after you've impaled 'im on the tent poles. Then we hooked a hydraulic snow plow attachment to the front bumper, removed the actual plow, an fastened fillet knives in strategic positions so you can fiddle with the controls an slice the prime cuts off the torso *without ever stoppin' the truck*. Then, when your venison's about ready to come loose from the body, alls you gotta do is gun 'er up to 80mph an make that last incision so the meat comes loose an flies into the grill, an presto! Your backstraps should be nicely seared an ready to eat by the time you get where you're goin'. We're still havin' a little trouble gettin' the A1 Steak Sauce to flow properly through the power steering fluid hose, but I'm sure that with a little more testing it should be ready to go by 2019. I'm thinkin' about takin' our prototype over to Saul & Blaine Schwartzberg to see about gettin' the jack to mass produce these babies for the emerging roadkill cuisine market, but even if I can't get rich offa this, I'd still like to take a minute to thank the state legislature for improvin' the rural community's quality of life with this new law. Great job guys, now if you'll just get that dynamite fishin' ban taken offa the books we might actually be able to discuss votin' for some of you progressive whackjobs.
All that huntin' talk put me in the mood for a good huntin' movie, so I went an plucked The Final Terror offa the shelf an stuffed it in the VCR. But Final Terror's about more than just huntin' - it's also about survivin' when you're BEIN' hunted by a cannibal backwoods lunatic who looks like that wad of hair that burned up the belt on my vacuum cleaner last month. Think of this flick as Advanced Forest Slasher Survival, which, as mosta you already know, is the class that comes after you've watched all the Friday the 13th movies an successfully passed Maniacs in the Woods 101. Those flicks only provide the basics, cause, well, up through Part VIII they're essentially the exact same movie. This one's a little different though, cause here you've actually got more than one character who's not dumber'n a bucket fulla dead carp, which makes life a little tougher for the slasher. You'll see what I mean once we get into it, but first let's have a look at a few of the things that make The Final Terror the educational opportunity it is. First, if you don't own a Safety Can with patented tin can rim dulling technology, you will after you've seen the first five minutes of this flick. Those guys really shoulda included that openin' scene from this movie in their informercial, cause they'da prolly sold a couple billion of 'em by showin' the aftermath of that sharpened lid attack. Second, Marco Polo is a lot less fun when Marco's out of earshot. An third, findin' a decapitation victim in the shitter brings a whole new meanin' to the phrase "going to the head."
Butcha know somethin', I gotta take issue with folks who say Reagan "gutted" the mental health industry back in the 1980s. I mean, okay, sure, so the man closed down half the sanitariums in American an dumped those people into the streets like burnt casserole out of a 17th floor apartment window. Fine, it happened, but I find it just a *little* unfair when people go around talkin' about how "cruel" an "irresponsible" it was, when the 1980s actually proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that these so-called "crazies" were either fakin' it to get sponge baths, *or* that said abandonment was precisely what those people needed to straighten out their lives. Cause really, what happens every time one of these kukukachus takes up residence in the woods in a 1980s movie? Exactly, they acquire focus. They get their acts together. They refurbish old abandoned cabins an develop career goals. Now granted, these goals generally involve protectin' their perimeter an eatin' nature seekers to stay alive, but the point is: it works for 'em. They develop a sense of personal responsibility and become capable of takin' care of themselves, an wasn't that the entire purpose behind those shuttered mental health institutions to begin with? To bring stability an meaning to these people's lives? What we oughta start doin' is just bussin' these people out into the woods, provide 'em with a prefab fishin' shanty, an let nature take its course, cept all the liberals in congress'd prolly consider that "insensitive" an "unconstitutional," so that's prolly not gonna happen anytime soon. I guess what I'm tryin' to say is - next time you see one of these weirdos in the McDonald's parkin' lot ravin' about the FBI keepin' tabs on their every move an thought through a hidden radio transmitter inside their steel skull plates, don't just write 'em off as permanent drains on society, cause all they need is some fresh mountain air, a little place to call their own, an a jagged harpoon to turn their lives around. I'd suggest everyone call your local legislators an tell 'em you support the Forrest Dump initiative today, cause together, we really can make a difference.
The movie begins with this couple ridin' a dirt bike on one of those Forest Service roads that looks like a buncha environmentalists've been usin' it to play hand grenade shuffleboard, when suddenly they run into this faggot layin' in the middle of the road an hafta lay their bike down to keep from crashin' into it. Even a little faggot's likely to throw you clean off your ride an prolly pop your tire if it's got any spike knots pokin' out of it, so you really don't wanna go plowin' into 'em. But anyway, the guy ends up with a gash in his leg the size of a jo jo an so the girl hasta go runnin' back up the road to the ranger station to find Chuck Norris cause that's where the ranger's gonna be, only every last one of 'ems off hasslin' Yogi the Bear someplace, an by the time she gets back the guy's vanished. Least until she gets up right next to where she left 'im an somebody drops his snared body from a tree so he's hangin' there like some kinda sick pinata with his throat slashed, an when the gal tries to run she sets off this tripwire that uncorks a coupla tree branches studded with lids off a buncha Van Camp's Pork and Beans cans that turn 'er into a forensic jigsaw puzzle. The next day, some dork named Eggar who wears his hat with the bill turned up like Gomer Pyle is wakin' up all the rangers (Dennis, Marco, Nathaniel, Boone, an Mike) an generally actin' like Dennis Hopper on PCP until everybody's about two seconds from lockin' 'im in the tower an lightin' the supports on fire. Eggar's P.O.'d cause he's gotta drive everybody out into the boonies so they can count the salmon an collect all the red plastic Solo cups that got left behind by white trash campers over Memorial Day weekend, only what's really got 'im hacked off is he's also gotta pick up a buncha girls (Margaret, Vanessa, Melanie an Daryl Hannah) from the big female empowerment nature retreat down the road that teaches women how to be strong an independent if they happen to be too ugly to find a man who'll take care of 'em. This becomes completely understandable once everyone's loaded on the bus, cause they immediately start singin' 3 Blind Mice, in ROUNDS, which, let's face it - is enough to make Gandhi go on a shootin' spree. Then Eggar tries convincin' everyone that Mill Creek is dangerous cause of all the bears an nasty public domain DVDs they press there, cept nobody listens to 'im cause he's an obnoxious jackwagon who can't pull his head out of his ass long enough to realize he ain't R. Lee Ermy. Eventually they arrive at the creek an start draggin' limbs outta the water so the beaver population'll hafta learn to work for a livin' til it gets dark out an Boone tells everybody this scary story about some sadistic bastard who raped his niece in the woods an traumatized 'er so bad that she hadda be institutionalized. Cept then she ended up givin' birth in the asylum, an 19 years later the kid showed up an busted 'er out. Which just goes to show you how bad the paperwork's gotten in the mental health industry, since he coulda just taken 'er outta there as next of kin.
Course this didn't really change the fact that the woman was crazier'n a dog in a hubcap factory, so what the kid ended up doin' was takin' 'er out into the woods an releasin' 'er like a pet alligator who'd gotten too big to live in the bathtub, an now all the locals say she stalks the area at night with a bear trap dolin' out involuntary sex change operations to any man who dares cross her path. This is about when Boone's co-conspirators sneak up on the girls an scare the everlovin' crap out of 'em so they'll all get horny an fight over who gets to go for a ride on the Baby Booner, cept now Eggar's so royally torqued off that Boone'd tell a story like that to impressionable young girls in their mid-20s that he splits. Meanwhile, Dennis, Nathaniel an Marco've gone out to try findin' a supposed pot grow operation so they can all get higher'n the interest rate on a payday loan, cept Marco refuses to know his role an accept the "new guy" cut, an so Dennis an Nathaniel tell 'im to stand guard an howl like a wolf every 45 seconds like the sound effect reel from a carnival spookhouse so they'll be sure no hillbillies've shown up an jammed a double-barrel into his ribs, an then immediately ditch 'im. Unfortunately, by the time mornin' rolls around Marco ain't nowhere to be seen, an when Mike finds out about what Dennis an Nate did to the new guy he makes 'em go play Marco Polo in the woods. Then Mike goes down to the creek to dam up Melanie's beaver an roll around in the mud until they've got a colony of periwinkles livin' in their buttcracks, 'cept about that time this thing that looks like it got dredged up outta Slash's shower drain comes along an starts hackin' into Mike's tenderloins with a machete, leavin' Melanie terror-sticken an distinctly unsatisfied. But while that's goin' on, Dennis an Nate're out lookin' for Marco an come upon some hobo's summer home where they find Eggar's hat, Nate's stolen radio, an a severed wolf head marinatin' in a cabinet an decide not to stick around for dinner. Later that night, Cousin It sneaks down into the kids' camp an starts caressin' Margaret's hair tryin' to figure out how she keeps it from lookin' like an 8-track of Van Halen's 1984 that got regurgitated by the tape deck in a GMC Chevelle an ends up purt'near scarin' everybody outta their poison oak rashes. Then Marco comes saunterin' back into camp carryin' a marijuana stalk, an Vanessa gets so upset about 'im lyin' in the weed for so long that she storms off to the outhouse an ends up stickin' 'er foot into the mouth of Mike's severed head. This just goes to show that sometimes when you die people *will* still have you to kick around.
The guys are P.O.'d, so the next mornin' the whole group rushes the old shack lookin' to fry up a batch of scrambled Eggars, only he must be out huntin' with Ted Nugent or somethin' cause they can't find hide nor hair of 'im an so they steal this inflatable raft that Eggar's been usin' for a girlfriend an start headin' down the creek. Fortunately the raft ride don't turn out like the bus trip, cause I don't think I could stand hearin' these people sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat after the 3 Blind Mice debacle. But anyway, things're goin' fine; no rooster tail studded stumps pokin' holes in the boat, no upside down chassis' blockin' the path, an heck, even Bigfoot's mindin' his own business for a change... only after awhile the treemugger emerges from the hillside an pitches Melanie's corpse into the boat an forces everyone to bail out before a game warden shows up an fines 'em for exceedin' the maximum occupancy on their watercraft. A burial at sea would be kinda disrespectful on account of the water bein' only two an a half feet deep, so they pull over to bury 'er an press on even though here lately it's been a constant battle just to stay between the shores, until they finally get into visual range of their bus. Trouble is, the whole situation reeks of trap an serious deodorant deficiency, so Dennis decides they're gonna wait until dark to take the bus, only when they get up there they discover the wheels on the bus no longer go round an round on account of Eggar dismantlin' the engine. They decide to hole up there for the night, only about 2 in the AM somethin' starts stompin' around on toppa their bus like rabid Partridge Family groupies tryin' to get in David Cassidy's pants, before bustin' through the windshield an chasin' everybody out the emergency exit. Then Daryl's pot habit ends up leavin' 'er winded, left behind, an slashed like the Medicaid budget under President Trump, so now Dennis an Marco hafta run back up to the bus an snatch the med kit to keep 'er from bleedin' out like the ink in a bad prison tattoo. Understandably, by the time mornin' rolls around everybody's madder'n a paraplegic at a hopscotch tournament an Dennis figures it's prolly just about last stand time. So they find themselves a clearing in the timber, rub mud all over their faces, an start goin' to work like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone an lyin' in wait while Marco heads out into the woods an starts makin' unflatterin' remarks about the sexual habits of Eggar's mother, until he finally comes outta the woodwork an slaps a rope around Marco's gullet like he's throwin' an impromptu S&M party. Gonna cut it off here, cause I wouldn't wanna upset anyone by spoilin' the most telegraphed twist in the history of cinema.
Alrighty, well, for anybody who was still wondering "what's in a name?", the answer is: profits. This flick's at least on par with the lesser Friday the 13th sequels, but the guys behind it never managed to come up with an attention-grabbing title, and thus it languishes in relative obscurity to this day, where even the most painful of '80s slasher flicks are in high demand. At one point they were apparently calling it "Three Blind Mice," based solely upon the scene where everyone sings said song during the bus ride, and although the two alternate titles (Campsite Massacre and Carnivore) are at least marginally better, this flick never had a chance with any of them. The Final Terror just makes you think of The Final Countdown, it's pitiful. They shoulda called it "Outhouse Rats," or somethin' equally cryptic that manages to generate a minor sense of intrigue, cause the title just straight up sucks. Which is unfortunate, cause the movie's better than most of the Friday the 13th clones that came out in the 1980s, although technically speaking, the flick has more in common with one of the granddaddies of the subgenre: Rituals, starring Hal Holbrook. Admittedly, Final Terror's not much more story driven than a Friday the 13th movie, but it has characters that're reasonably fleshed out, and the plotline entails more than the standard "final girl" formula wherein you're essentially waiting until everyone else is dead to see what happens in the climax. Here the characters are significantly less dense, and the killer isn't a supernatural murder machine, so it plays out differently than most of the other low budget forest slashers like Don't Go in the Woods, or Just Before Dawn. The biggest problem, in my opinion, is that the twist is telegraphed so early and so obviously that it's almost hard to make the case that it even constitutes a twist, and that's a little problematic given how the movie is primarily suspense based. It still manages to generate excellent atmosphere, but it benefits only what's happening in the here and now, because the reveal at the conclusion can be seen coming from interstellar distances. Another thing that would have likely helped out with the box office receipts would've been actually releasing the movie the year it was shot, which was 1981, when Friday the 13th was at the peak of its popularity. The movie ended up sitting on the shelf until 1983, and was likely only even released then to capitalize on the fact that Daryl Hannah had started to break into the mainstream. It's kind of a bummer really, because this flick deserves more attention than it got despite being a little slow paced.
So with that said, I guess there's nothin' left to do but run this thing through a psych evaluation and determine whether it's too deranged for general consumption, and thus worthy of our respect. The plot, as I mentioned earlier, is completely predictable as far as the major plotlines go, however, I'll give it some credit for originality (I've never seen someone killed by tin can lids attached to a limb before, that was both imaginative and surprisingly plausible) and some of its decisions that go against tradition as far as who would normally live, and die. The flick does, after all, set up Mike as the main character (or at least the most prominently featured), before making him the first victim among the primary cast a la Psycho. It also leads you to believe that Marco is almost certainly dead, where it gives hope that Melanie may survive in the scene where you can see her being held captive under the floorboards in the cabin, so those things were at least a little surprising when they turned out the opposite of what you might expect. Giving away the ending so early really sucked all the wind outta the climax though. Hints about what's gonna happen is fine, but they pretty much shouted it from the rooftops. The acting is the movie's biggest asset, with the entire cast turning in above-average to excellent performances, although if you watch the movie just to see Daryl Hannah you're gonna be pretty disappointed, because she doesn't have more than about five lines. But Joe Pantoliano is both entertaining and effective as Eggar, who looks and acts quite a bit like Dennis Hopper, and gives a great unhinged performance. In addition to Pantoliano, you've got John Friedrich as the abrasive Dennis, and Akosua Busia as the designated hysterical female who discovers Mike's severed head in the crapper, both of which outshine the rest of the supporting cast, and round things out nicely. But what's really impressive about the acting is the lack of dead weight, because even though some cast members are better than others, nobody is a drain on the movie, and that does good things for its point total.
Here's who matters and why (less Daryl Hannah, who's reasonably well known): Adrian Zmed (Sharknado 4, Shira: The Vampire Samurai), Lewis Smith (The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension, A Place in Hell), Rachel Ward (Fortress 1985, Night School), Akosua Busia (The Seventh Sign), Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix, Daredevil, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Congo, Amazon Women on the Moon), Jim Youngs (Cyborg 2, Skeeter). Sadly, most everyone in the cast went on to bigger and lesser things, but that just goes to show what I was saying earlier about their acting abilities, so if you're interested, here're the list of credits that these guys actually include on their resumes: John Friedrich (Joey in The Wanderers), Adrian Zmed (Vince Romano on T.J. Hooker), Ernest Harden Jr. (George in White Men Can't Jump), Rachel Ward (Juliet Forrest in Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid), Akosua Busia (Nettie Harris in The Color Purple), Joe Pantoliano (Teddy in Momento, Cosmo Renfro in The Fugitive, Ralph Cifaretto on The Sopranos, Eddie Moscone in Midnight Run, Frank Demorest in Empire of the Sun, Bob Keane in La Bamba, Francis in The Goonies), Mark Metcalf (Doug Neidermeyer in Animal House), Jim Youngs (Chuck Cranston in Footloose, Buddy in The Wanderers).
The special effects are pretty limited, and can be broken out into two groups: dummies, and everything else. The dummies are pretty bad, and everything else is just fine. Gashes and slashes are about all you've got to look forward to on the makeup front, and while there aren't many of them, they do look pretty good. I would like to add that, even though the dummy in the final scene doesn't look that good, the effect and its execution are pretty original and fun to watch, even if the dummy has physics issues. The shooting locations are excellent, and other than getting off to a wobbly start, the cinematography makes exquisite use of them. Principal photography took place in Crescent City, California, which was the same area used to portray the forest moon of Endor in The Return of the Jedi, as well as the "communicator" sequence from E.T. The forest not only looks good, but it's also really well suited for filming, because it's brushy enough to come off as authentic, but not *so* brushy that you can't work in it, so kudos to the location scout... if there was one. Equally important is the dilapidated shack that serves as the home of the killer. It's squalid, disgusting, and utterly realistic. Definitely a remnant from a bygone era, and not just some set that was built to simulate an old lean-to, so a great job all around on the filming locations. The soundtrack is decent, but nothing special. Matter of fact, there really isn't much of a soundtrack in the traditional sense, but a lot of short pieces that rely heavily on strange sound effects. The few legitimate musical compositions primarily involve the piano, with a bit of synth that give it just enough '80s flavor to make it palatable. You really can't fault the director's restraint, because even though the tracks are very simple and very short, he knows where to put them, and the movie's atmosphere is definitely improved a great deal by their presence, or their absence, as the situation dictates. Overall, it's not nearly as much fun as a Friday the 13th movie, but from a strictly technical standpoint, it's got better production values. Definitely an underrated entry in the "slasher in the woods" subgenre, far exceeding the standards of more popular titles like Don't Go in the Woods, so be sure to check it out if you like your slashers rustic.