Terror (1978)

Basically an excuse for an escalating series of brutal death setpieces, Terror is what you get when perrenial sleazemeister Norman J Warren and bored hack David McGillivray decide that they're going to do Susperia. On a shoestring budget. With actors of little discernible talent.

Dario Argento's classic piece of Giallo gore noir is a well-known ex-video nasty, the beginning of a trilogy of loosely-connected horror art films and a triumph of style over substance (it says here). Unfortunately, Terror is a typically British 70s exploitation piece populated by Cockernee idiots and labouring under the constant gaze of the censor.

That said, Terror is also a good laugh - and has the occasional moment of brilliance. It's also very short (clocking in at under 80 minutes), yet packs in a fair amount of action, semi nudity and graphic gore. Perfect, if you like that kind of thing and are looking for something to fill the time between Neighbours and Eastenders.

The film starts with a brutal witch hunt and decapitation, which turns out to be a "film within a film" being watched in the very house where hundreds of years before, the events being portrayed on-screen actually happened. Still with me? Good, cos that's the plot over with. Seriously. Now all that remains is for the ghost of the said headless witch to exact her bloody and violent revenge on the ancestors of her persecutors, one of whom is the director of the film.

After a spot of amateur hypnosis goes awry at the party (nearly resulting in the be-swording to death of the director), the witch obviously decides to get rid of the "softly softly" approach and starts hacking her way through a variety of bit part actors who's CVs are obscure even by this website's standards.

Glynis Barber (yes, her off Blake's 7 and Dempsey And Makepeace) is the first to get it, following a pursuit through the woods. She's later found pinned to a tree trunk by knives. As well as providing a rare frission of actual tension, the knifing by the unseen assailant is also remarkably graphic. This sets the tone for the film, which alternates between brilliant setpieces (the coming-to-life of an entire canister of film leading to beheading by broken window; red paint seeping through the ceiling turns out to be red paint, but that doesn't save the victim) to the absolutely bloody awful (there's a mad segment where a Rover P6 starts floating around a forest for no reason at all) and the blatantly over-done (another Rover P6 comes to life, follows a policeman around for a bit, and then runs him over several times in extreme close-up).

The ending is mind-bogglingly stupid and pointless, the deaths seem to bear no relationship to the initial curse, and there's even an appearance by a particularly fat and washed-up ex Doctor Who companion, in the portly form of Michael Craze. If you like your horror short, bloody and daft, Terror is for you.

Director: Norman J. Warren Writer(s): David McGillivray, Les Young (story), Moira Young (story)

Cast: Carolyn Courage - Ann Garrick, John Nolan - James Garrick, James Aubrey - Phillip, Sarah Keller - Suzy, Trishia Walsh - Viv, Glynis Barber - Carol Tucker, Michael Craze - Gary, Peter Craze - Porn Film Director, Peter Atard - Curtis, an actor, Elaine Ives-Cameron - Delores Hamilton, Mary Maude - Actress Playing Lady Garrick, William Russell - Actor Playing Lord Garrick, Rose Collins - Diane, an actress, Chuck Julian - Phil the Greek, John Rapley - Actor Playing Minister, David McGillivray - TV Reporter, Michael O'Malley - Bartender, Peter Mayhew - Tall Mechanic, Peter Sproule - Constable, Colin Howells - Detective, Milton Reid - Bouncer, Tanya Ferova - Stripper, Steve Emerson - Actor Playing Burning Village, Patti Love - Hannah, L.E. Mack - Mad Dolly


Last updated: February 27, 2010

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