Theme Song: Theme songs have long been proven unnecessary for slasher-type films. Unless you count the mid 80s rash of hair metal anthems like Alice Cooper’s “He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask),” or W.A.S.P.’s “Scream Until You Like It,” or Dokken’s “Dream Warriors.” But this movie was too early for that era, so as a result, all you get is bad synth music and violins.
Interesting Dated References: Teens camping and getting murdered during sex. This phenomenon has since been lost to the ages as teens are too busy listening to their iPods while they text and Twitter and update their social networking webpages all while abusing prescription drugs.
Best Line: In militant-southerner-explaining-how-to-survive voice: “You tie those beads back, you understand? Lonnie you get that hair under a cap, and Boone, get off that white shirt.” Also, in about-to-die tone of voice: “I’m stuck. I’m fucking stuck.”
Social Context: For some reasons the late 70s/early 80s seemed obsessed with the idea that your children would be killed or murdered. Remember all that kidnapping shit we had to go through in grade school? That shit sucked. Fucking John Walsh. Well, with The Final Terror we have an example of the “if you let your kids go camping they will die” scare tactics employed so liberally back then. Let’s not forget the other reinforcement learned from this film: If you have sex out of wedlock, you will die. Oh, and also if you do drugs you will die. Now of course you know this isn’t true because you spent all of high school doing nitrous and fingering chicks in the woods.
Summary: The first killing in this movie involves the tops of aluminum cans attached to branches that swing and cut you. That’s good. The Final Terror is one of those slasher movies from the early 80s when everyone was trying to start up a horror franchise. Most only lasted one movie and created an entire sub-genre I like to call “Instructional Movies for Killing Teens.” Some are really good; most are really bad. Some are just average. And some of them are just really fucking boring.
And so I give you: The Final Terror. This one sets itself up well enough with a group of young forest rangers (part of some job corps program) who are going camping. Here we get a bunch of hot chicks, including a pre-Splash Darryl Hannah, and a bunch of able-bodied dudes, one of which was that guy from Bachelor Party. Anytime I go camping I don’t ever see anyone that is even remotely able bodied.
So all these teens head into the woods and one of them proceeds to tell the story of what happened in the woods years ago. The story involves a young girl who was attacked in the woods then committed to the mental asylum conveniently right outside the forest. She is then released and hides in the woods. Now all clues point at the token crazy guy Eggar (a very young Joey Pantoliano) as the one who would commit the atrocities, but then the script starts moving really slowly. It busies itself with lots of talk about “scoring weed” up in the mountains, including a 5-minute debate about who gets a cut of what from weed sales. It leads to the disappearance of Marco, the token stoner guy. The next day extremely-adult-looking-guy Mike leads the search for the missing stoner. Mike seems really old. Like way older than the teens. For the record it is no longer socially acceptable to go camping with teens. In the middle of the manhunt, Mike goes skinny-dipping, then has sex, then is murdered during sex. For once it’s nice to see a guy cry durning sex, even if it’s as he’s murdered.
After the sex murder, token black guy Hines and token army guy Zorich look around for missing friends and stumble upon a cabin. After lots of high-fiving, regrouping, and realizing two more are missing, the remaining group decides to sleep. Speaking of token characters, this movie seems to introduce two token people with British accents. No explanation or anything. So the stoner guy returns with weed, and a few more dead bodies are discovered. Convinced that it must be the token crazy guy who ran off, the group debates what to do. A nice little microcosm of society is displayed as one party wishes to, “Burn this sucker. Burn this whole thing right now.” while another claims, “We stick together, get the hell outta here, and let the cops handle it.”
Apparently they decide that the best choice is to drift aimlessly in a raft. The endless drift is interrupted by the dead body of one of the campers being hilariously dropped onto the raft. Seriously, it’s comedic. Of note in the Final Terror, there are still over seven people alive including the token stoner, the token black, the token military, and the two token British people. As the raft trip ends at the broken down bus they started at, they again decide to wait for dark so they can kill the token crazy guy that has obviously been killing them all. But instead of immediately leaving the premises, they decide to sit in the broken down bus and smoke joints and eat fruit. As expected, once the bus is attacked, the large group scrambles into the woods with the instructions of, “Just run, anywhere.”
In the morning, the token military guy does the ‘shrooms he found and actually, I shit you not, delivers some monologue about ‘Nam. I’m not fucking joking. The entire group sets up some large swinging/impaling trap to catch their evil, crazy friend Egger, and when he shows, we see that he is not the killer. Rather, it’s the crazy lady from the beginning ghost story. Totally shocking. Freeze frame on the kids, and we’re done. For “the final terror” there sure are a lot of remaining survivors, but considering it was also released as Campsite Massacre, and Carnivore, I’m sure this wasn’t the intended title. I know, you read all this way and nothing special happened. Imagine how I feel. See, it isn’t so much that the audience can easily tell the killer, or that the movie plods along, so much as the fact that the movie is just boring. Nothing memorable, nothing to even make it stand out in the shit heap of these movies that came out around this time period.
Poster and Box Art: The box art for Final Terror is indicative of the slasher genre in that it features people running from something that isn’t specified. Now this is not the total mystery art that became popular later in the decade. This art lets you know that something is going on and conceals the real ending in a classy way. That is if your definition of classy is air brushed spatter-paint. Actually I really do like this box, especially the prominently featured type. I was also able to find a European VHS box (seen below), which isn’t nearly as appealing as the USA poster art (seen above).
As always, the modern redone DVD cover is a big fucking piece of shit that looks like garbage. This is not the first time I will speak out about this. I am tired of “the media” producing these misleading ass-boxes with shitty fonts and photoshop filters for old movies that have legitimate good old box art. Not only that, this box actually has the gall to bring up the fact that the director of The Final Terror went on to direct The Fugitive and Collateral Damage, which I’m sure is something nobody really cares that much about.
Availability: As I stated above, The Final Terror is one of those movies that came out in a few different cuts and under a few different titles. An actual The Final Terror DVD was available, but reports indicate it is a shitty print and really dark, and it looks like it’s out of print now. It is also available under the title Carnivore on a double feature DVD with Christmas Evil. It looks like this DVD version actually runs a little longer, so probably has a little more gore. This was one of those shitty double feature DVDs and only seems to be available on eBay..