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Director: Andrew Davis
Writers: Jon George, Neill D. Hicks, and Ronald Shusett
Cast: Daryl Hannah, Adrian Zmed, Joe Pantoliano, and John Friedrich
Length: 82 min
Label: Shout! Factory
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
- Newly commissioned audio commentary track with director Andrew Davis
- Post Terror: Finishing The Final TerrorInterview with Post Production supervisor Allan Holzman and Composer Susan Justin
- The First Terror with Adrian Zmed and Lewis Smith Interviews with the cast members
- Original theatrical trailer
- Stills Gallery
The Final Terror is a film plagued by difficulties. Originally shot in 1981, it wouldn’t be released until 1983— probably only at that point because of the chance to profit from Rachel Ward’s success on The Thornbirds, Adrian Zmed’s role in Grease 2, and Daryl Hannah’s role in Blade Runner. In addition, the film struggled to find a name, briefly entitled Campsite Massacre and Bump in the Night, before resting with The Final Terror as a title. Following its release, despite a small cult following, the film fell into obscurity. With all of the original prints and negatives lost or damaged, the film has—until now—never garnished a proper release (with the exception of a full-frame DVD release with a poor transfer). Now, thanks to the efforts of Shout! Factory’s Scream Factory imprint, The Final Terror has been given more attention than ever before; and, despite working with less than perfect prints, has released a rather stunning transfer.
The largest criticism hurled towards The Final Terror deals with the film’s lack of originality. Fresh on the tails of Friday the 13th and The Burning, the film feels like yet another film about sexually frustrated teenagers brutally murdered in the woods. While it is hard to argue with the criticism—that is the plot in a nutshell—, and while it certainly isn’t the most memorable of 80s Slashers, the film is far from redundant.
By and large, the two aspects of the film that without a doubt resonate the loudest are Andrew Davis’ cinematography and direction and the score by Susan Justin. Davis’—who pulled double duty as both cinematographer and director—love for the natural surroundings is clear in his visual style. The woods take on a life of their own, adding to the suspense of the film. In addition, Justin’s score hauntingly propels the film. The score is extremely diverse, but the melancholy piano numbers will surely stick with you.Aside from the pleasing cinematography and score, the film is improved through a few of its actors. In particular, Joe Pantoliano (Memento, The Matrix, The Fugitive) gives a wonderful performance as the tragic and tortured Eggar. His acting style, a mixture of drama and comedy, brings life to the film. In addition, John Friedrich, despite being a tad over-the-top, helps carry the film as Dennis Zorich. Sadly, Friedrich left the acting business shortly after the film’s release. The rest of the cast all play their parts accordingly, but fail to really make a mark, largely remaining background characters. The ending is almost an enigma. In one way, the killer’s reveal is, despite viewers’ expectations, unpredictable. However, on the other hand, the reveal almost cheapens the film. The film slowly builds, until breaking in the final few minutes; but, while the ending is powerful, it is hardly enough to justify the scope of the entire film. The film suffers from slow pacing and, despite its short run time, feels longer than it actually is. All in all, The Final Terror is a fun but flawed attempt to capitalize on the growing slasher market.
Shout! Factory has certainly made a name for themselves among horror fans for their stunning, but not overly manipulated transfers. With only a few problematic issues in the past, they were quick to alert viewers of impending problems on this specific release. Noted in a title prior to the film’s start, the Blu-Ray and supplemental DVD are transferred from six individual prints, due to the fact that all of the original film elements—the negative and the inter-positive—have been lost. Nevertheless, being that it was transferred from the best elements available over six different prints, there are not a surprisingly large amount of errors. The 1.78:1 1080p transfer looks almost as good as anything in the Scream Factory canon, despite a few scenes. Thankfully there was no effort made to overly digitally enhance the final transfer, leaving the film’s defects intact. As one would expect, there are noticeable changes in the prints, scratches, dust, and a few moments of discoloration, but in spite of these defects the print is relatively crisp. With all its faults, the transfer is brilliant in comparison to poor prior 1.33:1 DVD on the market; making this Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack the best option available to experience the film. Overall, this is commendable job from a growingly essential company.
Similarly to the video, the audio is sourced from various original prints. This means that there are comparable problems in existence in the audio. However, the only thing that is overwhelming is the clear change in fidelity from print to print. There are noticeable jumps in clarity, sometimes occurring mid-scene. Despite the rocky mix, the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix is verbose and pretty clear. The audio is subjected to a far better restoration than the video, leaving a minimally flawed final product.
While Shout! Factory have done an adequate job in presenting a decent slew of features for this release, it can’t be said that these are among our favorites. The two featurettes—Post Terror: Finishing The Final Terror and The First Terror with Adrian Zmed and Lewis Smith—leave a bit to be desired. There are, however, a few interesting moments and are not without merit; good for a viewing but probably not something that will be revisited. The inclusion of the audio commentary track with director Andrew Davis—newly commissioned by Shout! Factory for this release— would seem like a major selling point. You would probably assume that hearing Davis—who would go on to direct big-budget action/thriller pictures like The Fugitive—talk about one of his earliest directorial efforts would be fascinating. Unfortunately, the result is rather dull, where large moments of dead air are interrupted with the occasional comment about the scenery. There are a few moments where Davis does get excited, but ultimately his lack of concern with the horror genre and the film appears clear. Finally, there is the inclusion of the standard stills gallery and original theatrical trailer.
It is hard to imagine that The Final Terror is anyone’s favorite horror film, or even favorite slasher, but it is a well-made picture. There are enough elements to justify the short runtime, and Davis’ photography makes for a beautiful, if not gritty, look at the Californian wilderness. Shout! Factory have placed a lot of care in presenting the film properly, and it by far exceeds any prior efforts made to present the film. While the special features are somewhat substandard, this is of no real fault to Shout! Factory and exists as a minor blemish for the release. Ultimately, this package is a fine addition to the growing Scream Factory filmography.