The Final Terror (Blu-ray Review)

Final-TerrorAs everyone knows, I’m a big fan of these VHS to Blu-ray releases.  No DVD?  No problem.  I don’t like films to be lost, missing or unavailable in the physical formats.  I also take pure joy in seeing what a film was originally intended to look like when all I’ve had to reference for years was a ratty VHS copy.  The Final Terror is a double bonus because its also an early 80s slasher film and I take much joy in watching and collecting them.  Scream Factory doesn’t give it a collector’s edition, but it does show this edition plenty of love.  Heck, I almost think some of this “smaller” releases they do have enough bonus material on them that I think they could get away with calling them a “collector’s edition” and nobody would raise a finger.  Just having it to the format with a trailer and a commentary might be special enough for some of these cult items alone.

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A group of young adults head to the woods for a camping trip.  A few weeks earlier, a couple was murdered in this same woods and the killer never caught.  There’s legend that a woman who once lived in those woods was raped by her uncle and later thrown into an asylum.  While there she found she was pregnant.  The baby boy was given away, but recently he had come back and took his mother from the asylum, the both never to be seen again.  When their friends start turning up missing and one of them dead, it becomes a journey to escape and survive.

The Final Terror is listed as a 1983 film, but it was actually shot and finished back in 1981.  This would have landed it amidst the rise of the slasher craze.  However, as the film was finishing, the body count demands kept rising as the films kept outdoing each other.  The production just kind of gave up on adding deaths to the film and it was shelved.  It popped back up in 1983, likely due to the fact that a lot of the film’s cast had started making a name for themselves and this would be an easier sell.

Among those starlets were the likes of Daryl Hannah and Joe Pantoliano.  Hannah wound up being in the film as she was the director’s mentor’s (Haskell Wexler) niece.  Joey Pants had a pretty significant role and gets to play a wild and crazy character that keeps you uneasy throughout.  The cast also has Rachel Ward, Mark Metcalf and Adrian Zmed among others.  A lot of famous or solid respectable Hollywood names whether it be actors or crew seemed to have gotten their start on The Final Terror.

The film is one of the earliest from known action director Andrew Davis.  Davis went on to direct such films as The Fugitive, Above The Law, Under Siege, Chain Reaction and Collateral Damage.  Here he both shoots and directs.  And for a low budget slasher, this one looks pretty terrific.  According to the film’s final editor (it was edited one last time before it finally released after sitting on the shelf), the original cut was too in love with its photography and made the film very slow and sluggish.  Davis does relish in shooting the Redwood Forest as well as shooting suspense sequences in the film.

I do like a slasher that takes its time and relies on suspense and creative kill/chase sequences.  The Final Terror however just seems to hang on too long.  Its a solid film, but just about everyone survives.  There are some really cool sequences in the film, but most wind up in success.  And when the characters travel in a large group facing every challenge at hand, it lessens on some of the suspense.  For the most part, the film works for me, and its worth revisiting time to time.  It’s however, far off from being as enjoyable for me as some of the other slashers from the era that I watch a lot (the recent released Final Exam being one of those).

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1:78.1

Clarity/Detail: Before the film begins there is a warning card stating that the original elements and negative for the film are long gone.  This transfer was constructed from six prints of The Final Terror.  The overall picture is a bit rougher than what you come to expect, but it works and is extremely watchable.  Its a bit more soft a picture than normal and detail is lighter on more background imagery and medium to far shots.  The final reel of the film is pretty strong with detail, but it kinda depends on how good the print condition is in the scene.  It has a dingier and more worn look to it.  But, I’m not going to nit pick this transfer because there was definitely a ton of work put to this to get it done where some other distributor could have said “F*** it” when they found there were no original elements.  Scream Factory did everything they could and succeeded in bringing The Final Terror from VHS to Blu-ray.

Depth: The 3 dimensional look is rather average and more on the flat side of things.

Black Levels: Blacks are strong and do create for minimal crushing and some loss of detail.

Color Reproduction: Colors are very cold and appear a bit dingy looking.  This film just looks and kinda feels like a rainy fall day.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones can flicker during some scenes, mainly due to the source.  Detail on closeups is pretty solid.

Noise/Artifacts: There is plenty of print wear, scratches and specs throughout the film.  Its very much watchable, but this does outgrindhouse some grindhouse releases.

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Audio Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: The audio is solid enough.  Some of it kind of jumbles together, but there is a good variation between dialogue, effects and sound.  I’m sure putting this together was quite the challenge and I think there’s been a commendable job here in presenting the audio.

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is centered and set at a good audible volume.  There are times where there is ADR or maybe audio coming from a different print making it appear the sync is off.  Also, the audio can change its sound mid scene.

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The Final Terror comes with a DVD copy of the film.  Also, the cover art has some production stills on the reverse side.

Commentary With Director Andrew Davis – By himself, the director watches the film and provides anecdotes on cast and crew as well as some insight on making  The Final Terror.  There are some dead spots where he paused to watch the film for a minute, but he does provide a very good insight on this cult classic.

Post Terror: Finishing The Final Terror (HD, 22:59) – The film’s editor talks about making the final cut on the film after it had been on the shelf for 2 years.  The score is touched upon and discussed as the editor and composer wound up meeting and getting married after this film.

The First Terror With Adrian Zmed And Lewis Smith (HD, 16:22) – The two actors recall the shoot and working with Andrew Davis.  They also share their thoughts on the film after having watched it recently.  Adrian Zmed mentions many times about how its neat that half the cast go famous after.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:17)

Behind The Scenes Still Gallery – 66 on set images.Final Terror 4a


Scream Factory has saved The Final Terror and brought it to Blu-ray.  While the video and audio won’t be winning any awards any time soon, I think it deserves a standing ovation just for the fact that they delivered something good with what they had to work with.  The Final Terror having a Blu-ray in itself is an absolute triumph and one the coolest movies to hit the format this year.  This is the best its ever going to get.  The extras on here are also very fun.  This is another solid and super fun release from Scream Factory.



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

2 Responses to “The Final Terror (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Brian White

    Love the E for effort grading 🙂

  2. Brandon Peters

    Going through 6 prints of the film to put together for 1 Blu-ray transfer seems a pretty tall order to me and needed to be commended. I fear was some “expert” sites are going to score the video transfer, which for the circumstances is actually very impressive. Sometimes you gotta realize more aspects of the production than just whats on the screen and culminate. ya know? That’s why I love WSB 🙂