When the tape arrived the other day, I read the box and thought "Hmm...that doesn't really tell me anything but useless trivia, does it?". See for yourself:
"Beautiful actresses Daryl Hannah (minus her "Splash" mermaid costume) and Rachel Ward, who were once actually roommates in Hollywood, join up again along with sexy Adrian Zmed (T.J. Hooker) in this ghoulish tale of murder and the macabre from the creator of "Alien"."Yup, there's actual celebrities in this flick- not earning a box credit is Joe Pantoliano, who sports a southern accent that comes and goes, and Mark Metcalf, from Animal House and that Twisted Sister video everyone loved back in the day.
What we've got is a bunch of people in the woods, although I'm really sure, still, what they were doing there, or why. The guys and girls (with the exception of the 2 troop leaders) are meeting for the first time on this trip, and I have no clue why they were going camping together. I don't even know if they were supposed to be camping. Who are these people? Are they forestry workers? Convicts? Exchange students? Eh, it matters not. They all end up in the woods, lined up for a killer who looks like a big pile of matted hair. Imagine if Chewbacca went grey and had stopped brushing himself years ago, and you'll get the idea. "Lined up for a killer", I say, but despite the fairly large cast, the body count is the lowest I think I've ever seen in a slasher. Actually, this movie is less a slasher than it is a Deliverance-style survival movie. But don't worry, there's none of those Ed Beatty style scenes to make you uncomfortable- phew! Like one character says (I'm not even sure of their names, to be truthful- this movie was really confusing), mystically: "If you people wanna survive this thing, you gotta start looking and thinking like the forest.". Looking like the forest means putting leaves in your hair. Thinking like the forest is never explained.
Now, despite all this, I kinda liked this movie. Parts of it I liked ALOT. The score really enhanced the atmosphere throughout, as did the graininess. I know that's just due to the low budget, but as it helped The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the film grain helps establish mood here. Much of the movie is dark, which at times simply means you can't see what's going on, but at other times it makes things quite spooky- several scenes are lit exclusively with flashlights, which is almost always a welcome effect. The killer is shown very little throughout, which I like- the less you see, the scarier they usually are. There's the old creepy cabin in the woods, of course, and it's a right yucky place filled with jars of gross stuff and various unidentifiable piles of meat lying around. The ending, while abrupt, was shocking.
This is one of those movies that's thisclose to being really, really good. It's the variety that frustrates me so much. Rather than simply writing it off, I sit and think of all the things that would've made it better. Firstly, The Final Terror really needed a more coherent story. When I literally don't know what's going on, that's a bad sign. A higher body count would've helped, as well. A good hour or so goes by and no one dies, despite some close calls. More action, less rafting, please! It coulda been a contendah, but in the end I gotta give it 5 out of 10 WTF?s.