- Actors: Jack Nicholson, Boris Karloff, Sandra Knight, Roger Corman
- Format: Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Special Edition, NTSC, Import
- Language: English
- Region: All RegionsAll Regions
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Number of discs: 1
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Image Entertainment
- Release Date: Nov. 25 1997
- Run Time: 81 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- ASIN: 6304609337
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The Terror [Import]
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Back when Jack Nicholson was a Hollywood unknown appearing in Roger Corman quickies such as Crybaby Killer and Little Shop of Horrors, it wasn't unusual for Corman to make a movie in just a few days. That was the case with this nifty little thriller, which was filmed in just three days using the same sets that Corman had used in his Boris Karloff thriller The Raven, which Corman had finished ahead of schedule. In fact, the sets were being torn down almost as fast as Corman could film them, but that hasn't stopped this moody little gem from acquiring a modicum of cult status over the years. Karloff plays the alleged baron of an isolated castle on the Baltic coast, where a Napoleonic officer (played by Nicholson!) appears after becoming intrigued by the presence of a mysterious and beautiful woman. Karloff's baron has a dark history, of course, and creepy atmosphere makes up for the minimal plot, which makes The Terror a vintage treat for horror fans. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The DVD sports optional Japanese subtitles and copious notes on the cast and crew, as well as a clean transfer to disc from a print with nary a blemish and unfaded color. --Jim Gay --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Nicholson plays Andre Duvalier, a French soldier who has become separated from his unit. You can tell he's French because he wears a fancy uniform but doesn't seem inclined to actually engage in any sort of battle, is rather rude to those he meets, and basically expects everyone to do whatever he commands of them. Andre meets a young lady named Helene as he is wandering along some coastline and apparently falls in love with her - despite the fact she keeps disappearing and just possibly tries to lead him to his death. He ends up being cared for by a strange old woman, who tells him there is no girl in that area. Still, he persists in finding Helene, eventually tracking her to a spooky old castle. There, he meets Baron von Leppe (Karloff) and learns that the girl he saw is the spitting image of the Baron's wife, who has been dead for twenty years. He eventually learns the story of the Baroness' violent death, but he just doesn't believe that the woman he met is actually a ghost. The Baroness' death all those years ago does stand at the heart of the story, but the truth is more complicated than you might think. The film sort of plods along for awhile, but the final twenty minutes play out wonderfully. You may think you know what is really going on, but odds are that you will meet with a surprise or two before all is said and done - I know I did. There is one plot point that is a little hard to swallow for reasons that will be obvious to the viewer, but overall I would declare this film an unqualified success.
The story behind this movie has become something of a legend. It seems that Corman wrapped up filming The Raven a few days early, and so he decided to make another film on the spot. The rush job origins of the film explain some of the anachronisms that crop up, but it seems obvious to me that Corman did his best work when he didn't have time to really think about what he was doing. Some critics have referred to The Terror as a movie without a plot. Apparently, only a partial script was written on the spot - specifically, those scenes filmed on the set of The Raven. The movie was actually finished a short time later (several individuals, including Francis Ford Coppola, were tasked with the job of putting the patchwork of filmed scenes together and actually finishing the whole thing). Despite its unusual and rushed origins, though, I found The Terror to be an impressive, strongly plot-driven film. The story, even more than the actors (in my opinion, only Karloff gave an impressive performance), makes The Terror a must-see horror film that, in my estimation, is in no way cheesy.
The films on this double feature disk fall somewhere between Corman dreck and Corman gold. According to film lore, Corman created THE TERROR in 1963 for the simple reason that when THE RAVEN wrapped he still had star Boris Karloff under contract for three days more--and not being one to waste a dime he quickly came up with a script that could play out on the earlier film's sets and be shot in less than thirty-eight hours.
THE TERROR concerns a young French solider (Jack Nicholson, who made several films with Corman early in his career) who is separated from Napoleon's army and finds himself drawn to an isolated castle by the charms of a lovely young woman (Sandra Knight)--but instead of finding her in residence encounters the Baron Victor Frederick Von Leppe (Boris Karloff), an elderly and possibly demented man still mourning the death of his wife some twenty years ago. The plot is loose, to say the least, and Nicholson is hardly any one's idea of a Napoleonic officer, but while THE TERROR isn't a great film by any stretch of the imagination it isn't a bad one either--for all its cliches and cheap manipulations, it manages to create an atmosphere that is surprisingly effective.
The second feature, however, is really the more interesting of the two. Starring Dick Miller (who also appears in THE TERROR), the 1959 BUCKET OF BLOOD reads very much like an extended episode from the classic t.v. series THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Walter Paisley (Miller) is a geeky wannabe who scrabbles a living as a waiter in a beatnik coffee shop--but when he accidentally kills his landlady's cat he covers it in clay to create an instant sculpture that makes a hit with the club's ever-so-artsy clientele. Needless to say, one thing leads to another, and before too long Paisley is making a hit with life-size sculptures as well.
What makes BUCKET OF BLOOD particularly interesting are Corman's florishes of black comedy, grotesque humor, and his constant jabs at the pseudo-artistic crowd that admire Paisley's work. In a year or so more, Corman would ravel much the same thread with the comic story of a mousy florist clerk who grows a sinister plant in the better known LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS.
The print of THE TERROR (which had Francis Ford Coppola as an assistant producer, no less) is in pretty bad condition: the film is presented in pan-and-scan, the colors are washed out and often fuzzy, and the film is riddled with blips, scratches, and various artifacts. But it is watchable, and I have to say I've never seen a really good print of this film in any release. BUCKET OF BLOOD fares better: while hardly pristine it is fairly crisp in its original black and white. The disk comes with a few lightweight but entertaining extras, including basic information on each movie, trivia, etc.; scene access, however, is extremely limited.
Neither of these films should be classed along side the best of Corman's work, but then again neither are they anywhere near the worst of his worst. If you're a Corman fan, they're must-have, and this two-for-one deal is a handy and fairly inexpensive way of picking up both.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
PS.This is the first film that I've seen directed by Roger Corman. I will buy his book on making movies in Hollywood and never losing a dime.If his other movies are directed in the same manner that won't be a surprise for me.(But you never know! )
Compaired to todays output it is about as terrifing as chocklate ice cream.
You have a very young Jack Nicholson and a very old Boris Karloff performing this little drama on sets you should recognize from a dozen other "B" Horror films.
Nicholeson's preformance forshadows his later success.
For its time, this is an above average film, an excellent example of the type and period which is why I give it a 5.
I found it well worth watching.
I quite enjoyed it, but that is dating myself.
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