It’s never a good sign when the first frame of a movie starts off with an apology. This one comes from the studio handling the re-release, which states that all of the original film elements for The Final Terror are now lost in the sands of time, and what we are about to witness is a composition of six different prints. I don’t know if this is because the content of the film is garbage, or great, or what, but one of the guys that helped this restoration has the last name of gravel, so that’s kind of fun.
We open to shots of the forest, a babbling brook, baby deer(!), and a motorcycle that dumps over its two passengers. The dude’s hurt but the lady’s fine (and I mean fine), and his stupid leg has a big cut on it. The gal runs away as fast as her hot pants will allow to find help, and Chad here doesn’t look too put out:
Chad don’t care. Chad don’t give a shit.
He hears a snap, crackle, and pop in the woods and looks around, while Hot Pants runs up to an abandoned ranger station, and then books it back to Chad. She must be a really fast runner! Oh, and also the guy’s now gone. His name is Jim, but let’s keep calling him Chad. After writing that, I really hope there’s not a character named Chad later in this movie, but sometimes you roll the goddamn dice in the high-stakes game of frivolous comedy blogs. But he’s dead now, strung upside-down, and Hot Pants musters all of her acting classes to let out a scream.
Hey, stop hanging around! Don’t leave me dangling! OK, I’ll leave.
She runs away, but a booby trap of sharp tin can lids jumps out and cuts her up but real good. NOW HERE ARE THE OPENING CREDITS, ASSHOLE!
The Final Terror: brought to you by people who don’t have a career after this.
A jaunty little rock instrumental plays as we watch a jeep drive in the dark. Then the camera pans over people sleeping in bunks. Wait, is this another goddamn early 80’s horror movie set at a camp? I just wrote, like, three of those up already! Also, the credits note that five people worked on the screenplay, which means it’s probably really good and not a total disaster at all.
Anyway, John Travolta’s stand-in (let’s call him Travolta II) is reading Swank or something, but the middle-aged weirdo that was driving the jeep during the opening credits goes into the bunk and wakes everybody up. He’s really dirty looking and nobody is happy to see him. One guy’s none too happy about being woken up and pulls a knife on him. I’m going to call that character Psycho. So Travolta II also jumps up and gets fresh with Dirty Guy, so he leaves. Great.
It turns out these guys are forest fire ranger…trainees, and they’re planning on a fun weekend hanging out with a group of women who should probably start fearing for their safety, based on the cut of these guys’ jib.
These forest ranger goons sit around sass-mouthing each other and we hear on the radio that two people are missing in the woods. You know, those two people from the opening. It doesn’t matter. Dirty Guy is trying to warn The Boss that they shouldn’t go so far out in the woods, and also throws some prude bullshit about not letting these kids hang out with girls. OK, honestly, the median age here is about 30, so “kids” is a stretch. The next scene, they pull up to the girls’ camp and I’m just going to give you a still of the guys in the movie so a future court trial can use it for identification purposes:
The girls seem like they’re having mixed feelings towards these jokers (as would I), and the film makes a point to note that 1) one of the girls is the girl camp’s owners’ daughter, who say 2) “What about that missing couple?” in case we forgot. One of the creeps says that they’re going to take “real good care of their daughters,” so the gals should probably leap out of the bus windows at this point.
Some god-awful footage of everyone in the bus singing “Three Blind Mice” plays, mostly because it’s a public domain song and because they’re trying to pad this to 90 minutes (they failed; the whole movie’s only 83 minutes). More aimless jibber-jabber occurs among these mugs about the location they’re headed, and it’s just another Sleepaway Camp/Friday the 13th ripoff, right? And the prude Dirty Guy driving the van is actually the murderer, right? ANSWER ME, MOVIE! :::Throttles laptop:::
“Of course this isn’t just a cheap genre rip-off! It’s, uh, art?”
Dirty Guy keeps warning them not to go up to the location they’re headed, but nobody in the bus wants to hear this fuckface’s goddamn lip-flap. They pass by a mental institution and some guy makes a crack about that being Dirty Guy’s former home, so yeah, he’s probably the murderer, right?
They get to where they’re going, and the Pacific Northwest looks beautiful, even in low-grade garbage like this. They keep picking on Dirty Guy (his name’s Eggar, but he’ll just be Dirty Guy from now on), who acts like this is the army instead of a group of forest fire ranger trainees having a weekend getaway.
Now these ragamuffins are hanging out around a bonfire while Dirty Guy drinks by himself off in the distance. Travolta II tells some shit scary story about a poor young woman who was violated and shunted off to the mental institution that’s nearby. The story ends with the rape baby (oh, the phrases I have to write for this blog) being taken away, never to be heard from again. And Dirty Guy jumps a bit at this story, going so far as to threaten to cut The Boss’ tongue out. I guess it’s because he’s said baby all grown up. Come on movie, get to the killing! We’re 20 minutes in and all of these people are still alive!
Dirty Guy drives the bus away back to HQ and a few of the lads go for a late night hike through the woods–Psycho, The Black Guy (look, they might have provided a name, but I didn’t catch it, and I’m basic as hell), and Travolta II—to look for wacky tobaccy growing wild. They do this for profit, you see. Too bad they just didn’t wait 30+ years, where it’s now legal in the state this was filmed. But not my state, because life geographically sucks.
Speaking of drugs, I wish I had some right now because this fucking movie is taking forever for the ol’ stabby-stabby and I’m getting antsy. Psycho and The Black Guy wander off to find Mary Jane, and Travolta II stays back as lookout. We see a fuzzy-looking outline for a second that looks like someone in camo, and then we cut to morning with a surprisingly artistic 180° shot of the campground. Really, this movie just makes me want to go camping in the Pacific Northwest. It seems pretty safe, considering HOW LITTLE MURDER IS HAPPENING IN THIS HORROR MOVIE so far.
Pictured: Two things this movie makes me want to do: camp and sleep.
The Boss’ girlfriend wakes him up with kisses like good girlfriends do, and another day begins in The Third-to-Last Terror. The gals wash up in the river while the guys peep on them, because 1983, and Travolta II is missing. We’re coming up to a half hour into this movie with no damn murders yet, but a rip-off “chica-chick” sound from Friday the 13th is playing, which means something murdery must be on its way. They find Travolta II’s bandana hanging from a tree, and then more shots of people searching for him, and man this forest looks gorgeous. Good job, nature in 1983! Sorry about all the carbon in the atmosphere that will kill you in 30 years!
I guess they all give up the search, but Psycho is feeling bad about leading Travolta II into the woods/his certain death, and some infighting occurs. But still no murder. Instead, The Boss and Girlfriend get a little sexy in a stream. What fucking movie am I watching? Not one filled with murder, I’ll tell ya that much!
So since these two are having the sex, they’ll probably die soon, right? There must be murder coming. And there is! The Boss gets whanged a bunch with a sharp instrument and dies on top of his girlfriend, who understandably freaks out.
Psycho and The Black Guy come across the cabin from Evil Dead to steal…anything they can find, I guess. They find an old forest fire service inflatable raft (hello, future plot device!) on the property, along with a small burial ground. Psycho goes into the cabin, and we hear an anguished scream, so The Black Guy runs to look for him, but instead Psycho plays a stupid trick to scare him, and I’m still waiting for more murder because I only feel alive when my face is spattered with an innocent’s blood.
They find a forest fire service hat inside, so they think it’s Dirty Guy that lives here, “because he’s a goddamn freak,” says the character I have been referring to as Psycho this whole time since his first appearance. The Black Guy is pissed that his stolen boombox is there (racist), they find a severed wolf’s head in the cabinet, and now it’s night and NOTHING IS STILL HAPPENING. Where the fuck is the girlfriend of the murdered guy? Why is nobody noticing that their campmates are disappearing? Has the splendor and beauty of the Pacific Northwest robbed them of their good sense? Because it’s certainly stolen mine.
“Can we just leave this movie now?” “Nah, we have another 40 minutes left.”
Psycho goes a-walking after midnight and the rest of the campers go to sleep. Then the Moss Monster thing shows up and starts snooping and sniffing on the girls, and it’s about as scary as The Witch was, which is to say not at all. But one of the girls starts screaming, Psycho comes a-runnin’, and more nonsense nothing keeps a-happening. They build a campfire and Psycho bandages his hand…because he hurt it? This movie’s not good on details. Or plot. Or characterization. But the forest sure looks nice!
Travolta II shows up not dead, and everyone heads back for more gazing into the abyss of fire. He found a bunch of pot so everyone’s going to get stoned, because there’s nothing like psychotropic substances while stranded in the woods and already feeling terrified. I also notice now that at least half of the girls are British for some reason, and this is never explained or has anything to do with anything. Did British actresses work for less than their American counterparts in the early 1980’s? An academic paper detailing this thesis would be more interesting than this movie at this point.
Wait, so one of the girls finds The Boss’ dead body in a cabin (the same one that they were in before? A new cabin? Movie, I need to know what you’re doing!) One of the dudes blows chunks and now scenes are literally being lit by flashlight.
They go back to the campfire (WHY?) and continue to freak out. Psycho swears revenge (of course), and the gals are freaking out and crying. CUT TO the next morning, and everyone’s doing a scouting jog to…find the killer? Now this movie has suddenly turned into Red Dawn. Only without the commies. Well, maybe the British girls…Anyway, they surround Dirty Guy’s creep cabin and demand that he comes out. The Black Guy rushes into the door, where assorted viscera is scattered about. Poorly lit viscera.
I agree: The special effects in this movie do stink!
Girlfriend is held hostage in the cellar by the moss-covered monster, and The Black Guy goes in for the chop, but it’s just a chicken fake-out in a closet. Everyone piles into the cabin to check out the disgusting sundries scattered about like it’s a fucking game of Clue and drop a hand-filled jar. They book it soon after and get the inflatable raft (gee, good thing that prop was there!) and head to the river to float the fuck away from this movie.
Moss Monster comes up from the cellar, and we see the gang walking through the woods holding the raft because it’s just goddamn riveting cinema. The Boss’ Girlfriend (sorry, didn’t catch the name) is crawling out of the cellar now, and I really do think this might be Red Dawn at this point: the 30-yar-old “kids” are working together like a crack militia, loading the raft and gettin’ ‘er done. And now they’re rafting through the gorgeous Pacific Northwest, which I wish I was doing now instead of watching this movie.
A nice, slow, long zoom shot pushes in as we watch them go down the river. They pass Matt Foley and his van living there. There are some nice directorial flourishes in this movie, which I solely attribute to the panoramic splendor of nature more than actual ability on the filmmakers’ part. But wuh-oh! There’s Moss Monster!
That thing, right there! The big clump of moss! Do you see it? Yeah, neither do I.
So here we are, in the third act, and a lot of these fucking people are still alive. Moss Monster better get going! And lo and behold, the corpse of The Boss’ Girlfriend gets dumped from above onto their boat! This movie really gets its mileage out of the only two people that have been murdered so far. They bury her, and then continue down the river towards Colonel Kurtz. Psycho thinks he’s leading the goddamn Green Berets or something, and you can tell he’s having a great time. More bullshit happens where they have to ford the river, and they pull the boat onto a bank to…do something. They wonder how Dirty Guy was able to do all of this on their own as they espy the camp bus. So do I.
They wait until dark to approach the bus because it’s a horror movie, and we have more scenes lit by flashlight. If my calculations are correct, there’s about 20 minutes left in the movie, and about 8 people still alive, so there has to be a murder every two and a half minutes for this to qualify as a “slasher” flick.
The gang piles into the bus and take a load off because that’s a smart move for sitting ducks and try to start it, but shit happens because Dirty Guy sabotaged it. Did they only have, like, three days to shoot this movie? With this kind of darkness, it’s a real waste of film. So they decide to get stoned (again: a great idea in a crisis situation), and we visit Dirty Guy’s cabin, where he sits staring into the fire looking like he’s also wondering how he ended up in this movie.
“I should have taken that job with the regional touring company of Same Time, Next Year.”
The next morning/night (keeping action in sequence is not really a priority in this film), everyone’s snoozing in the bus until they hear a bump in the night/morning. Then SMASH! The old Axe-Through-The-Window trick! They try to escape through the back, but the Moss Monster smashy-smashies the front window open. They get out and book it down the road. So no deaths in that scene. Repeat: no deaths. Fifteen minutes to go.
They split up because horror movie, and Blonde Girl/Daughter of the Folks who Run the Female Camp (why did they even put in that detail? It doesn’t amount to anything) gets lost. She gets a chop to the neck and needs immediate medical attention, so they send Travolta II and Psycho back to the bus to get the first aid kit. My God, has this director never heard of Truffaut’s Day for Night? They literally filmed these scenes in the dark at night. It’s infuriating. Fucking pleb.
So one of the British girls knows how to sew up a wound, and Psycho says something psycho while this happens, probably because he’s a psycho. Blonde Girl is dying anyway, and everyone’s all bummed out. We have like 11 minutes left and there’s just not enough murdering happening to meet the quota.
THE NEXT MORNING, they trudge through the rainy woods, and Blonde Girl’s still alive somehow, and again, the Pacific Northwest is absolutely stunning.
I’m literally just enjoying the scenery at this point.
I don’t know…more hiking….rain…Psycho comes up with a plan to do…something…but it’s not like this movie gives a shit whether the audience understands what’s going on. Psycho finds some sort of crazy shit and is really digging what’s happening. He’s found a beautiful place to kill Dirty Guy and comes across like one of the soldiers in Predator who’s gonna have him some fun. The Black Guy helpfully explains that Psycho is now high on psychedelic mushrooms and is tripping pretty hard. Thanks, Unseen Events We Only Know About Because Of Expository Dialogue!
So the Red Dawn Kids start setting up traps and weapons and other shit to kill Moss Monster/Dirty Guy and apply war paint, climb trees, and other stuff that makes me think this was actually a training video of some sort at one point. There’s like 8 minutes left in the movie and I’m not too confident that there’s going to be a big flourish of killing anytime soon.
I am a lineman for the county and I drive the main road/Searchin’ in the sun for another overload/ I hear you singin’ in the wire, I can hear you through the whine/And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line
They start calling out for Dirty Guy to show his mossy face, and he pops up to strangle one of the kids with a rope. Come on, movie! A rope? Anyway, the gang jumps out of the woods like the Viet Cong and rush Dirty Guy. Psycho’s missing out on the fun. So the kids are stomp-kicking Dirty Guy to death, but w-w-wait! Moss Monster is real! And it cuts Psycho’s Achilles tendon, sending him down a ravine to a broken neck special.
Moss Monster—who turns out to be the woman who was raped and sent to the mental institution, and of course Dirty Guy is the rape baby (again, my apologies)—jumps out with the hooked cleaver, but one of the booby traps goes off, impaling her.
Do you see it? With the face and the hair? Yeah, I don’t know.
This sequence is shot pretty well, with a camera attached to the swinging log, and I guess the director could only afford about three artistic shots in this whole movie. Anyway, Dirty Guy is dead, Psycho is dead, and Moss Monster is dead. And the last shot is of the gorgeous forestry of the Pacific Northwest, AKA the most enjoyable part of this movie.
- Whaaaat? Blonde Girl was a young Daryl Hannah!
- Also released under Camp Site Massacre (veery original) and Carnivore (what?).
- The director of this movie also directed The Fugitive, which I saw at Bradley Beach Cinema a few months after it came out when I was but a lad. Points if you get the geographical reference! Also, that movie wasn’t garbage!
- According to the Wikipedia page, marijuana brownies were given to the cast at some point, which sent some of them to the hospital. Pussies.
What the fuck was this shit? Seriously, YouTube, if you’re going to tout something as “rare,” please provide an asterisk to note if it’s also garbage. What a fucking waste of time of a movie this was. Literally three people get killed (I guess five, if you count the villains, or seven, if you also include the pre-credit deaths [which I never do, because fuck those island characters]).
I mean, seriously, what fucking garbage this movie was. At least the previous lowest-rated movie I’ve reviewed here (the abysmal Intruder) at least had a few interesting points to it. Besides the beautiful redwood forest that’s featured in the movie, most of it is just filler and anti-suspense that leads to almost nothing.
Back to that title card that said this movie’s original masters were lost: Good. What a shit film. This isn’t like the 75% of silent movies that are lost to the sands of time, thereby weakening our historical outlook on cinema history; this is just some low-budget, quick cash-in genre shit that fucks itself by being fuck. I’m sorry for the language, but goddammit, movie, please give at least something to the audience that may fit the criteria of “horror.” I didn’t even mention in the review, but I figured that the moss monster was Dirty Guy’s mom, in her first appearance in the movie. You fucking garbage film. Goddamn you for wasting 83 minutes of my somewhat-worthwhile life. No good kills, no great thrills–just meandering bullshit packaged as horror.
This gets ¼ of one out of four simply because the Pacific Northwest is beautiful and featured heavily in this, and there are three good cinematographic points in its running time. But mostly because I like the forest footage and because Daryl Hannah was pretty cute back in the day. In summation: boo.