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||IMDB Rating: 5.0/10 from 671 votes
||Release: 1978 (UK) /
||Director: Norman J. Warren,
||Stars: Carolyn Courage, Chuck Julian, Elaine Ives-Cameron, Glynis Barber, James Aubrey, John Nolan, Mary Maude, Michael Craze, Patti Love, Peter Atard, Peter Craze, Rosie Collins, Sarah Keller, Tricia Walsh, William Russell
||Synopsis: Royal ancestors feel the wrath of the curse of the condemned witch Mad Dolly, who spews forth her prophecy while she is burned at the stake. The victims suffer death by having their heads removed in various fashions, getting their limbs caught in animal traps, knife wounds, and other methods of medieval torture. Written by Ørnås
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I'm a sucker for "Alien" ripoffs, so of course Norman J. Warren's
cheesy 1980 homage, "Inseminoid" (a.k.a. Horror Planet), is a fave of
Considering the relatively high production values of that flick, I
thought I'd give the rest of his early horror movies a try. I obtained
the Anchor Bay UK (R2) coffin boxset, which contains "Terror" (1978),
as well as two previous horror flicks lensed by Warren ("Satan's Slave"
from 1976 and "Prey" from 1977).
To give proper perspective to "Terror," I think it helps to compare it
to Warren's earlier horror films in a chronological fashion.
But in case you don't feel like reading this entire post, here's the
upshot: Norman J. Warren's straight-up horror films spiral downward in
quality as time goes on; since "Terror" is one of his later films, it
stinks the most. Sorry, but the stench cannot be covered up.
Without a doubt, Norman J. Warren started on a high note. His first
full-length horror feature, "Satan's Slave" (1976), regardless of the
absurd title, is a real gem of mid-70's horror (woman meets her evil
uncle for the first time when her parents die in a car crash; uncle
decides to use his stranded niece in a ritual to reincarnate an ancient
witch). Maybe I was in a particularly receptive state when I popped it
in, but it occurred to me that "Satan's Slave" was a real independent
70's gem with some poetic photography and some solid grue. It felt like
"Let's Scare Jessica to Death" or even the lesser "The Legacy" at
times. The film is caught somewhere between the then-dying Hammer
Gothic style and the rise of contemporary horror films. Its carefully
crafted and moody jazz-ensemble music, and its isolated, wintry English
country manor setting make it a real fun time. They don't make them
like this anymore. (And I thought I had perused every worthwhile 70's
horror movie ever made. I was very grateful to be wrong.)
Then came "Prey" (a.k.a. Alien Prey, 1977). Shot in a week or two and
with little money, the film has an interesting premise (alien with
Wolfman Jack fangs crashes on an English country estate; he is here to
scout out whether or not humans are edible). It effectively uses some
claustrophobic settings, and the plot takes some well-timed twists. But
it doesn't begin to stand up to the moodiness, and especially sympathy
for the characters, that "Satan's Slave" generates. "Prey" is hampered
by only having three players. The conversations seem to go round and
round confusingly amongst the two lesbians and the disguised alien, and
the tension is very on-again off-again. The film is inconsistent; it
drags terribly in places; the photography seems rushed or crudely
framed. And there's the infamous slo-mo drowning scene in the dirty
pond--that goes on and on and on...
Then came "Terror" (1978), the absolute worst of the lot. The film
(witch lays an ancient curse on a family which comes to pass as we
watch) is apparently an homage to Argento's "Suspiria" (though I'd
never, never be able to tell). Trust me: I live for confusing horror
movies pasted together with hoary clichés, but this "film-like product"
lacks basic structure. The characters are so thin that they seem to
disappear when they turn sideways. I couldn't even remember their
names, which is never a good sign. Scenes seem strung together at
random; telegraphed red herrings abound. Nudity just thrown
in...because. There is a "film within a film" motif used to some
effect, but we've seen this done much better by others. The film is
populated by characters we don't care about because we don't know them
in the most rudimentary ways. I had no problem going to the fridge
during this one.
It is interesting (indeed, fascinating) to juxtapose a gem like
"Satan's Slave" against Warren's later "Terror" (which actually had a
bigger budget; by that time, Warren had earned a bit of a name for
himself too, but apparently that had little effect on quality). Take my
word for it: "Terror" is by far the weaker film, thinner, less
interesting, less nostalgic-feeling, less moody, less filling. It is,
without question, the lowest point in the UK boxset.
OK, now that I've fulfilled my IMDb obligation, I can go pop the next
DVD of the boxset into my player: A widescreen version of "Inseminoid!"
Tags for Terror Full Movie
, Chuck Julian
, Elaine Ives-Cameron
, Glynis Barber
, James Aubrey
, John Nolan
, Mary Maude
, Michael Craze
, Patti Love
, Peter Atard
, Peter Craze
, Rosie Collins
, Sarah Keller
, Tricia Walsh
, William Russell
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