TERROR AT TENKILLER (1986) A group of filmmakers exclusively from Oklahoma give the shot-on-video/direct-to-video/mid-80s slasher cash-in a try.

Terror At TenkillerTheme Song:


“Mine All Mine,” performed by John Melton, written by Chip Halstead. This song is not that bad for a locally-made regional horror film. This team also had a song on annoying asshole favorite, Killer Workout, aka, Aerobicide.

Interesting Dated References: Movies with no plot twists, double crossings, alternate story arcs, triple twist switcheroo third act reveals, or anything of the sort. None of that. Here is a movie that from the very beginning to the anti-climactic end makes sure you know exactly who the killer is and what his uninteresting motives are even if they are never clearly explained. That makes no sense but you get the point.

Best Line: Absolutely none. Even the ones they went back and overdubbed to make sure everyone heard them because they thought they were important.

Social Context: The shot-on-video/direct-to-video/mid-80s cash-in. Get a camera, get a synth, get some chicks, get some fake blood, write a loose script, have some loose stool, etc. The blueprint was clear and people across the country took up the reins to try to cash-in on the movement. In this instance, a group of filmmakers almost exclusively from Oklahoma gave it a shot.

Summary: In the poorly-lit opening sequence we see some chick named Denise have a fight with her lover/boyfriend. She is killed and dumped in a lake in another series of very poorly-lit sequences.

Terror At Tenkiller

Then we meet Leslie, our college coed heroine. She has an annoying estranged boyfriend named Josh who keeps unexpectedly showing up to talk to her. After telling her friend Janna about how controlling Josh is, they decide to go to Janna’s vacation home on Lake Tenkiller.

Terror At Tenkiller

The college-age girls (who are women in their late twenties) sit around and talk about Josh, the locals, and other things that women in their late twenties who are trying to act like college chicks would talk about.

Terror At Tenkiller

Janna seems to be familiar with all the locals and flirts with all the men accordingly. The main local we should be concerned about is a dock-hand named Tor. The reason we should be concerned about Tor is because he tells the local diner owner that Denise (from the poorly-lit opening sequence) “left town.” The other reason to be suspicious of Tor is because we then see him kill a waitress in her hot tub. To clarify, there’s no suspense in this movie, at all. We all know Tor is killing all the girls.

Terror At Tenkiller

Tor is played by Michael Wiles, who you may remember from his memorable turn in Fight Club or, more recently, Breaking Bad. In fact, Michael Wiles is practically the only person in this movie who ever did anything again. Stacey Ann Logan (our coed heroine Leslie) was in a Benny Hill movie from 1991, which came as a surprise because I didn’t even realize Benny Hill was still alive in 1991. Michelle Merchant (our second tier coed heroine) has no other credits, and her name only turns up in a string of DUI mug shots from 2004-2011 featuring a suspiciously similar looking woman in Minnesota.

Terror At Tenkiller

So after milling about town and doing various things that girls who are 30 do when they are on vacation, Janna and Leslie listen to some obscene phone calls during a ridiculously long shot of this answering machine.

Terror At Tenkiller

The girls assume the calls are coming from jealous, estranged boyfriend Josh, but we all know they are coming from Tor, who also stops by to have a Coors with Janna. At this point we’ve also seen Tor kill a few other people during poorly-lit sequences.

Terror At Tenkiller

A few days later, in a well-lit sequence so there’s no danger, Leslie spends 10 minutes telling Tor all about Josh. Then she gets sad.

Terror At Tenkiller

That makes Janna sad, as well, but probably because she likes Tor, who as the movie has made clear, is a killer in poorly-lit situations.

Terror At Tenkiller

Later, with no regard for mosquitoes or wildlife, Janna falls asleep on the dock. Tor shows up and kills her, possibly because she started washing her hair in front of him in the kitchen sink.

Terror At Tenkiller

A kitchen sink. Gross. For the record, the actress playing Janna (Michelle Merchant, who may be the Minnesota woman with the DUI mugshots) is giving a nice, easy-going performance. When Leslie gets off work, she finds Janna dead, realizes Tor killed her, and then runs into the poorly-lit woods so she can be chased. At least I assume that’s what’s happening based on the post-production overdubbing.

Terror At Tenkiller

Tor catches Leslie and takes her out on a boat, she is able to stab/drown him, or something, and escapes by swimming to the shore. Then there’s a bad voice overdub by Leslie, who is talking about how, “swimming saved her life,” right before they do one of those endings where the killer (who as we clarified was Tor) jumps out of the water in an ending reminiscent of Friday The 13th Part 1 or Part 3.

Poster and Box Art: Thematically and stylistically, the cover for this movie is good, but there are some problems with the airbrush execution.

Terror At Tenkiller

First off, the killer and the soft, swamp-like background look excellent. If this was the only element on the cover we’d be in great shape. Unfortunately, when we get to the damsel in distress we run into major issues.

Terror At Tenkiller

To begin there’s an awkward foreshortening of her raised arm, which immediately throws off the whole perspective. Second, there seems to be some disconnect between the angle of her face and the shape of her hair.

Terror At Tenkiller

Moving on, there are more issues with leg placement at the waist. Her outstretched leg appears almost totally out of joint, and I don’t think that was intentional. Adding to this, her lowered arm is approximately two feet too long. Finally, and more subtly, the nipple detail was an afterthought at best, and in poor taste.

Availability: You can buy Terror At Tenkiller on a double-pack DVD with The Last Slumber Party. I will go ahead and assume that it’s a tape transfer, so the quality probably isn’t all that great.

2 comments

  • I don’t know why I like this movie. It’s terrible on all objective measures: Bad lighting, no suspense/tension/scares, mediocre script, incompetent directing, wretched acting, etc.

    However, it does have a nice backdrop. It reminds me of the rustic lake cabin where I spent my summers as a child in the 80s and 90s.

    The carefree times where you could just leisurely read a book and relax next to a beach. You could go to town ever so often all the while listening to tapes or 80s jams or swing by a local diner (which are getting rarer and rarer) that served fresh catch. or stay in and have fun with the family long before cell phones, XBOX and countless other gadgets that despite the promise never really made life easier.

    Terror or not, the ambiance at Tenkiller was just an awesome nostalgic throwback.

  • Rather mediocre slasher film, but I didn’t hate it. Has a great setting. There is next to no nudity, but I like the girls’ bikini bodies. This was recently released with a comedy commentary on Rifftrax.com, which could be fun.

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