The Final Terror (1983)
Directed by: Andrew Davis
Written by: Jon George
Starring: Adrian Zmed as Cerone
Rachel Ward as Margaret
Daryl Hannah as Windy (yes, Windy!)
Joe Pantaliano as Eggar
Tagline: “It’s a slow week, what else are you gonna see?” (just kidding, there wasn’t one)
By: Rob Rector and Jason Plissken
Rob’s pre-screening memories: The Final Terror was a milestone for me.
For it was this little, cheapie camping-gone-awry horror flick that started my descent into the dark, seamy underbelly of the world of forbidden flim-going.
Despite my parents’ best attempts to raise a respectable, law-abiding young man, peer pressure would triumph in this battle, even though I regarded myself as someone with an iron will.
A movie theater that was within walking distance to my suburban childhood home would usually offer two distinctly different films in its two theaters. In Theater I, the latest Hollywood hit would house the more serpentine lines of the moviehouse, as lesser-known fare would typically be relegated to Theater II, which usually featured a more palsied line of vagrants, freaks and local college kids merely looking for an “Alanis Morrisette special” in the back rows.
It was in this theater that the manager opted to screen “The Final Terror” in 1983 (my guess is the 3-D magnum opus “Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone,” starring a “Sixteen Candles” -era Molly Ringwald, was boring the hell out of audiences in the opposite theater). I say this is my guess because there had a be a PG-rated film playing for which we purchased tickets as a cover for our crime.
You see, it was a few weeks before the “final” installment of Star Wars, Return of the Jedi would be housed there, (which would make it home away from home for the following months) and we were merely killing cinematic time before its arrival.
As many pre-teens with too much time on their hands and friends who were actual teenagers, we devised a nefarious plan to enter one theater (the crap-tacular “Spacehunter“), only to switch over to the “dark side,”(“The Final Terror“) when the ushers weren’t looking. At the time, it was a plot that had to be planned and executed with David Mamet-like skill and style. Movie times, curfew, menacing theater staff all had to be calculated precisely to avoid suspicion, or, worse yet, a phone call home to pick us up.
The three of us nervously purchased our tickets, graciously accepted our 3-D glasses, casually and accordingly sauntered into “Space-whatever” and waited for the minions to arrive and provide perfect cover for us. Somehow, the added element of 3-D glasses would provide just enough chaos for us to slither under the radar.
Then, one by one, we exited the theater – a bathroom break here, a popcorn refill there – and managed to nonchalantly adopt a couple heading into “The Final Terror” as our parent and/or guardian. I have a feeling our acting was better than any within the film itself, as we all had to give the illusion that we were too engrossed in our buttery buckets or coming attraction posters to be bothered with making direct eye contact with the ticket takers (who, in retrospect, would have most likely just let us in by slipping them an extra $5 spot).
We confidently strode to our seats, keeping one or two in between us as to give the illusion that we were awaiting our negligent parents. Shortly after, the lights dimmed, the previews rolled and we were home free.
Unfortunately, this being my first real dance with deviltry, I was completely unable to focus on the on-screen happenings, as I was enveloped by my pre-teen paranoia. There was something about a group of campers, the chicks from Splash (Daryl Hannah) and Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (Rachel Ward) were in it, as was the host of Dance Fever (Adrian Zmed). And I recall a final confrontation involving a large, swinging log marked with spikes that marked the demise of one of the characters.
Honestly, though, all I kept thinking is that this would be the demise I would face if I accidently bumped my feet into the chair in front of me and a disgruntled patron would call the flashlight-wielding arbiters of the art house to escort me out.
So, when Jason Plissken and I sat down to revisit “The Final Terror” on DVD, I could now comfortably take in all its subtle shades and nuances of this masterpiece without fear of ejection or the bitter wrath of mom and dad.
Jason’s pre-screening memories:
I first watched The Final Terror years after it was released. I was probably in the 8th grade when I saw it, which was around 1989.
My family and I had just gotten back from a roadtrip to Ohio and it was pretty late. My parents went to bed, but I stayed up to watch late night TV. That’s when I came across The Final Terror. At the time, I thought it was pretty creepy. I also thought it was cool because it had Daryl Hannah in it, and I had a crush on her with or without that mermaid tail!
It was filled with all the elements that would keep a youing kid rapt with attention: murky stalkings in the woods, hot female leads and a cannibal-esque psycho on the loose (sadly, there was no gratuitous nudity, but I was probably better off, considering my parents were in the next room and could enter at any time).
What did the screening hold this go-round? Download it, or listen to the podcast here: