A group of fire rangers and their girlfriends head into the deep forest for brush clearing and a little hanky panky. The group trespass on the hunting grounds of a wild woman, and soon find themselves in a fight for survival. What sets this routine slasher apart is the incredibly strong cast. Mark (Animal House) Metcalf, Adrian Zmed, Rachel Ward, Daryl Hannah, and Lewis Smith are members of the rangers. Joe Pantoliano is the crazy bus driver everyone bullies. The actors help the film rise above its low budget trappings and sometimes weak script.
The scenery is beautiful, until the final act, when the forest begins to look dank and slimy. The killer uses the forest and rocks as camouflage, which adds to the suspense because you never know when that pile of leaves might get up and kill a character. The night scenes are never so dark that one can’t see the action, a plus considering the middle of the film occurs at night. There is some gore, mostly severed heads and limbs.
The film does have some problems. Instead of facing the out numbered killer as a group, the survivors decide to build a giant death trap. Surely, the killer could see the guy climbing the two hundred foot redwood, and figure out the plan. One hero” gets blasted on mushrooms before the big finish, and the rest of the cast still takes orders from the guy. One would think a film with Rachel Ward and Daryl Hannah in the woods would be ripe for nudity. Unfortunately, there is more male nudity than female.
Despite the flaws, The Final Terror does manage to generate suspense. The killer is unpredictable and viscous. The good actors make the absurd situations believable. By the end of the film, the survivors are changed into a savage tribe, more dangerous and blood thirsty than the killer.
The Final Terror is a cross between Deliverance and Friday The 13th. Not all slasher fans will like this film, some parts may seem slow, but it’s really just an attempt to build suspense. The story is nothing new, but the future stars appearing in it makes the re-tread ground more interesting. In fact, the actors are the only reason the film was ever released. A producer discovered he had a film on the shelf staring that naked mermaid from Splash.