Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Scream Factory - THE FINAL TERROR on Blu-ray ""

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Scream Factory - THE FINAL TERROR on Blu-ray

THE FINAL TERROR (1983; Andrew Davis)
Amongst the scads of slasher films released in the early 1980s, THE FINAL TERROR seems nearly forgotten by most and not remembered fondly by others. I am an unabashed slasher fanatic, so I find myself drawn to all of them, and I am probably much more forgiving that many because I find the genre and its trappings to be oddly comforting to me. Like a story you've heard many times before, but nonetheless want to hear at least one more time before drifting off to sleep, slasher movies have a warm nostalgic place in my movie-loving heart. My family did a lot of camping when I was a kid, so the horror films set in the backwoods-y kind of places always take on a wonderful eeriness to me. This particular film has the feel of DELIVERANCE colliding with a traditional slasher. For certain movie fans like myself though, THE FINAL TERROR is perhaps most memorable for its amazing cast. Daryl Hannah and Joe Pantoliano are two of the more well known actors in the bunch, but there are also some lesser-known greats like Adrian Zmed, Rachel Ward, John Friederich and Mark Metcalf here as well. Lewis Smith (interviewed for the supplements of the disc) is also one of those "that guy" actors that ended up being in a lot of cult films like SOUTHERN COMFORT and BUCKAROO BANZAI (as well as getting a starring turn in THE HEAVENLY KID). If you like late 70s and early 80s cult cinema a la THE WANDERERS, AGAINST ALL ODDS, BACHELOR PARTY and ANIMAL HOUSE, then you'll provably enjoy seeing all of these actors doing their thing in an earlier "rookie" capacity. It's a pretty well shot movie for a slasher flick. Andrew Davis was a cameraman before directing and it shows as he is able to pull off some nice-liking hand held work throughout. Another interesting thing to note, outside of the cast and director of this film is the folks on the producing side. Joe Roth (of Disney and Revolution Studios) served as producer here and the movie comes to us as a "Samuel Z. Arkoff Presents" (he was an uncredited executive producer). Genre fans will no doubt recognize Arkoff's name instantly from innumerable AIP pictures and other "classics". Think what you will about the quality of THE FINAL TERROR, but it certainly was a jumping off point for some big time Hollywood talent. Were it not to have eve been made, who knows how some of these careers might have been affected. 
THE FINAL TERROR is far from the greatest slasher film of the 1980s, however if you are a big fan of the genre like myself, you'll be wanting to pick it up. As I mentioned, the cast alone makes the movie worth watching as far as I'm concerned. Also, being that the film has never officially been released on DVD prior to this (a few bootlegs have been floating around from what I can see), it was effectively a "lost film" and is in  need of re-discovery and re-evaluation. 

Regarding the transfer: there is a big disclaimer at the front of the film which denotes the fact that all of the original film elements (the negative , the inter-positive etc) for THE FINAL TERROR were lost and that Scream Factory had to go through six different film prints (lent to them by collectors) to mix and match the best looking reels from each. As this film is such a rarity, I knew going in that it'd be a "looks the best it ever will" kind of situation and with that in mind, I had no real issues with the transfer. It still boggles my mind how many of the obscurest films are finding their way onto Blu-ray these days so I am am excited as a movie fan first and foremost and am less critical than I'm sure a lot of hardcore audio/videophiles have been in the past. If it comes down to not having the movie or having it in a presentation like this, I'll almost always pick having the movie - every single time. 

Special Features:
-An audio commentary with director Andrew Davis (best known for THE FUGITIVE, ABOVE THE LAW & UNDER SIEGE). Davis briefly discusses making his first STONY ISLAND and how it led to this job.He gives background on the actors, locations and how certain scenes were shot. There are some bits of dead air in there, but overall it is a worthwhile track.

-"Post Terror: Finishing THE FINAL TERROR" (23 mins) consists primarily of an interview with Allan Holzman (executive in charge of post-production on the film) and a small segment with Composer Susan Justin. Holzman discusses the challenges and difficulties of a low budget production like this while Susan Justin talks about the unique ways in which she was able to make the music for the film.

-"The First Terror: with Adrian Zmed and Lewis Smith" (17 mins) Both actors discuss their experiences working on this their first film, working on location and with director Andrew Davis as well as some reasons why the film's release was delayed (the average body count in slasher films kept going up, prompting reshoots).

THE FINAL TERROR can be purchased via Shout Factory's site here:


Ned Merrill said...

As I recall, you and I were extremely underwhelmed when we watched this film via VHS over 15 years ago and had a grand time reveling in its shittiness. I can imagine it playing a bit better with the improved visuals of Blu-ray and the correct aspect ratio, but I'm doubtful that it will make the bigger transformation from lemon to gem. That said, I'm interested to revisit it. But, for lost and hunted in the woods films from the era, I will first recommend JUST BEFORE DAWN and RITUALS, as well as the granddaddy, DELIVERANCE.

Rupert Pupkin said...

It as definitely more enjoyable this time around. Not great, but better.