Terrible or Terrifying? This low budget thriller is brought to us from small-time exploitation king Norman J. Warren, the man responsible for such extreme British classics as SATAN'S SLAVE and INSEMINOID. What little plot the film contains is soon ditched as it becomes just another string of gory murders, but on the plus side the film does manage to evoke some scenes of fear and fright.
It's strange how much low budget work (take The Texas Chain Saw Massacre for example) manages to be a lot more terrifying than big budget blockbusters, such as recent debacle of THE HAUNTING. Perhaps it's the increased realism of this budgetary-challenged films, which lack the glossiness and shininess of the latest Hollywood release, factors which distance those films from the viewers. TERROR is a hard, depressingly realistic film, where events are played out among sleazy pornography films and characters shout and swear at each other just for the sake of it.
The film begins promisingly with a mini-movie, which, like the beginning of Hammer's VAMPIRE CIRCUS, is quite simply brilliant. It shows a witch burning and then returning from the grave to gorily dispatch members of a family. After this a bloody murder ensues, and the film becomes part murder-mystery, but it soon becomes clear that supernatural forces are at work and we are left to sit back and watch the relentless bloodshed. The unknown cast (see if you can spot Sarah Keller from THE BEYOND) all perform well.
Most of the murders are imaginative, well-staged and definitely not for the squeamish. One man has a camera crush his head, a woman is stabbed many times and impaled against a tree. A man has his neck slit with broken glass (this film obviously inspired the makers of GHOST) while another girl is bloodily dispatched on a stairway. There is no happy ending here, no release from the deaths. Just murder and mayhem. And yes, the film is scary in places, conjuring the fear of the power of the unknown in much the same way as THE EXORCIST did, using the blood to sicken and repulse the viewer and make him/her beg for release from the horror. On these counts, TERROR is a minor success for the director, little seen and even less heard about, but succeeding well in disturbing the viewer.
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