Mike’s Review: Final Terror (1983)

★★1/2 out of ★★★★★

Here’s a good one…Daryl Hannah (Splash), Joe Pantoliano (Risky Business) , Adrian Zmed (Bachelor Party), Rachel Ward (Sharky’s Machine), and Mark Metcalf (THE Neidermeyer from Animal House) walk in to the woods.  Wait…what?!?!  Yes!  This 1983 teen horror romp in the woods was is filled with pure acting gold.  I jumped in to this one sight unseen and boy was I surprised by the deep bench that is the Final Terror.

Filmed in what looked like Oregon, but was somewhere near Crescent City on the northern California Coast, the Final Terror is very pure in its simplicity.  A male forest youth crew working in the woods decides to (maybe inappropriately) bring along a gaggle of fine ladies on a river outing.  Everyone is down for the ride down the river — except for the prickly and surly Eggar (Joe Pantoliano). Eggar is the butt of everyone’s joke, hyper-aggressive, and clearly the odd-man-out.  But, to the work crew’s chagrin, Eggar knows these woods.  Maybe a little TOO well.


Eggar agrees to meet the group at the end of float downstream, but before the group heads out one of the campers tells a seemingly innocuous story about a crazy women who’d been raped, exiled to the woods, and whose son returns to look for her in the woods.  Spoiler alert, that’s kind of the story.  Sort of. Eggar, weirdly, is weirdly bothered by this campfire chiller and flips out on the campers.  As he leaves the group, it’s clear something is wrong.  Really wrong.

The next morning Neidermeyer and his lady-friend take a swim followed by a little adult time in the woods.  Teens + adult time = chop chop.  Sadly Neidermeyer, who actually plays a good guy in Final Terror, gets it.  Nearby the group discovers a creaky old cabin filled with nasty little curiosities.  The nice thing about the print I was watching was the fact that the cabin was clearly filled with strange stuff, including a freshly hacked up wolf head, but, thanks to the age of the print, you could never quite tell what was in said cabin.  But you just knew it wasn’t right.

That night one of the ladies is visited by a peculiar mountain person.  Bigfoot?  Mountain woman?  Eggar?  At this point the campers are straight-up spooked and opt for a quick raft trip downstream.  Nerves are frayed. Tempers flare.  The group reaches their return bus and huddles up for the night.  Convinced that Eggar is out to get them, they hunker down and wait.  They’re rewarded for their patience by a midnight attack from someone?  Something? Eggar? Bigfoot?  Mountain woman?

Continually perturbed by the constant attacks, the work crew and their ladies decide to fight back. Donning camo and creating booby-traps they’re ready to go to blows with this creature…or creatures.  Eggar appears and the work crew and their lady-friends go full-on Lord of the Flies on him.  As Eggar the killer (?) is savagely stomped to bits by the group, his crazy-mountain-lady-Mom appears and is revealed to be THE killer.  Needless to say she gets the business end of the booby trap and the legend of the crazy mountain lady is confirmed.

If you’re looking for a kill-count, look elsewhere.  Final Terror is just not packed with modern day levels of carnage, but there’s still a pinch.  The acting is mostly solid, save for Rachel Ward.  The scenery is mighty splendid.  Most importantly, this flick takes a really cool riff on the classic campfire tale.  Sometimes they’re silly tales of yor, but sometimes, yes, sometimes, they’re true…

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