This week's VHS is another recent Shock Stock acquisition in Ken Meyer's 1986 backwoods slasher Terror at Tenkiller.
Leslie (Stacey Logan) & Janna (Michele Merchant) retreat to her parent's remote cabin for the summer only to find there is a killer stalking the town's inhabitants. Will they be next?
Even factoring in my extra muddy video tape, it became apparent within the first five minutes that this movie was, to put it plainly, not good. Consisting largely of long scenes of meandering dialogue and shots of the same lonely fisherman, Terror at Tenkiller felt like a shot-on-video movie that just happened to be not actually shot-on-video. I must admit that even though I became mildly entranced in the second act, I still found myself wondering how there could still be half a movie left.
That sign was unfortunately false advertising as the gore was never as good as it was in the opening moments of the movie with the red stuff either being too close up, shrouded in darkness or underwater. It's a shame because having some solid set pieces could've made everything else more engaging.
|Stacey Logan as Leslie in Terror at Tenkiller.
Terror at Tenkiller was strange in that there was no mystery to it, as the killer (Michael Shamus Wiles in his first role) was introduced right away and interacted with the main characters shortly after. His motives were murky at best and the sequence of events that led to the climax were clumsy, most notably the scene where Janna invited the killer back to the cabin for a beer and then proceeded to wash her hair in the kitchen sink while he looked on. I think he was on the fence about killing her, but that sort of sealed the deal.
Robert Farrar scored the movie and it was somehow the best and worst part of it. Armed with what sounded like a Casio keyboard, he laid down some tracks that at times took me back to my all-night marathons playing Warlords 2 as a teen. I know that the sound was done in post, but they even used a synthesized harmonica and it's bloody hilarious. Then there was this random sound cue that constantly made me jump because it was so high in the 2-channel mix.
I will give Terror at Tenkiller one piece of credit though. During the climax, it seemed that the abusive boyfriend Leslie ran away from at the start of the movie was going to appear and save the day. But he didn't. Which was good. Cuz that would've been super lame. No, in the end, it was Leslie who saved herself. Well actually, as she says in her obligatory voice over, being a swimmer saved her life! Yeah, this was an eighties home video boom special if I've ever seen one.