Review of Terror

Terror (1978)
"I gave up a nut-bar commercial for this..." I really rather liked it.
21 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Terror starts in a large Country house somewhere just outside London that belongs to a film producer named James Garrick (John Nolan) where he happens to holding the premiere of his latest film to his close friends & colleagues, a horror film based on the long told legend of a Witch that was burnt at the stake by his ancestors & vowed revenge on all the Garrick's descendant's of which John & Ann Garrick (Carolyn Courage) are the last. Once the film has finished one of John's annoying friends Gary (Michael Craze) then tries to impress everyone with a party-trick, he appears to hypnotise an actress named Carol Tucker (Glynis Barber) but none believes it's for real & make him try to do the same to Ann. Much to everyones surprise he seems to succeed & Ann is put into a trance where she stands up, walks over to a sword hanging above the fireplace & attempts to kill James before snapping out of it. A short time later Carol is found brutally murdered. Things quickly become worse as almost everyone who associates with either James or Ann ends up dead. James is convinced that the Witch has come back to fulfil her curse & kill the last of the Garrick's... him!

This British production was directed by Norman J. Warren & I have to admit that I rather liked it. The script by David McGillivray who also pops up in a cameo as a TV reporter, isn't perfect but I thought it was lots of fun in a bad 70's low budget exploitation sort of way. Terror opens with a really cool film-within-a-film moment that I certainly wasn't expecting, it then gallops along from one gory murder to another with a bit of padding between consisting of some wonderfully cheesy, bad, funny & downright entertaining dialogue that seem to have everyone endlessly saying 'bloody' & 'luv' as many times as they can in the same conversation in a Cockney accent, great stuff & they really don't make 'em like this anymore! Add to this a really funny soft-core porno shoot that has some priceless dialogue of it's own, a murder mystery, a strip show, hideously dated 70's cars & clothes, a strange bloke named Phil the Greek (Chuck Julian) & an over-the-top climax full of pointless supernatural goings-on! I just thought Terror worked as a whole, a film that is maybe better than the sum of it's parts, I had a great time watching it & as far as I'm concerned that's all that matters. On the negative side when the climax arrives the killers identity is bland & to be honest I'm not sure why the filmmakers decided to hide it in the first place & going by the film's logic & ancient curse why are people unconnected with the Garrick's killed like Phil the Greek?

Director Warren does a fairly effective job, he creates some decent set-pieces like when Carol is chased into the dark wooden shed full of sharp dangerous looking tools but there are some not so effective ones like the silly bit when a car starts to levitate & float. He keeps things moving along at a reasonable pace manages to deliver some good atmosphere & did you notice the UK quad poster for one of his earlier exploitation films Satan's Slave (1976) that makes a prominent appearance in the background of several shots? The murders in Terror are quite brutal & gory, just the way I like them. Someone is stabbed & has a knife stuck through their throat, someone has their throat cut with wire, is impaled & then ends up in pieces in the back of a rubbish truck, someone has a broken plane of glass slice their throat open & generally speaking there was plenty of the red stuff being thrown around to keep me satisfied at least.

Technically Terror is a pretty solid production, flying cars apart. The cinematography is nice enough, the locations, special effects & production design are all good while Terror is a competently made film throughout. The acting was OK & I really liked watching a horror film populated by adults rather than annoying American teenagers for a change.

Overall I actually liked Terror a fair bit, it moves along at a nice pace, is gory, has a certain British eccentricity about it & it's good trashy exploitative fun throughout. I definitely recommend Terror, to horror fans in particular. They just don't, won't or can't make 'em like this anymore!
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