Ha ha y’all, it’s Burl, here to review a movie of the South! The picture is so Oklahoma it’s got a fringe on top, and the title is Terror at Tenkiller! Now, the first thing I’ve got to tell you about this picture is that, immediately upon watching it with a couple of friends, probably Doug and Dave, on VHS many years ago, the three of us planned a road trip straight down to Lake Tenkiller, where the story takes place! I think we just saw the denizens of this region as so vastly different from ourselves that we became captured by some anthropological imperative, like James Agee and Walker Evans!
Of course, these people are still a long mile from the swampbillies of Terror in the Swamp, so I’m not sure what fascinated us so about the Tulsans of Tenkiller! (Clearly the people we see acting in the film are locals – the thespian net was not cast too wide, ha ha! ) Anyway, we never went on the road trip, and I must admit I’ve still never been to Oklahoma! Ha ha, hope to get there one day!
Terror at Tenkiller, which is possibly one of the most padding-filled slasher movies ever made, begins with a murder committed by a guy named Tor! Ha ha, Tor disappointed me by never once grunting “Me go get fashlite fum patol kaa!” We then meet Leslie, a young lady who, under the guidance of her domineering, occasionally too-interested friend Janna, is taking a few days away from Josh, her possessive, rodent-cheeked b*yfriend! Josh is deeply unpleasant, and anyone can tell he’s a red herring and to be avoided except for this dim lass Leslie! It makes it hard to root for her, frankly, though much screen-time is devoted to discussions of how she became almost inextricably bound to this drawling bozo, and the difficulties of disentanglement!
And of course there are a few murders, committed by Tor, as we have been shown from the very beginning! By day Tor works as an assistant boat rentalsman at Tenkiller Marina, and uses his “Just another pockmarked good ol’ boy” charm to at*ract the young ladies of the parts! Now here’s the surprising thing: all the usual indicators of the direst slashers are here: dim lighting, summer-stock acting, dire mise-en-scene, an intolerable musical score! But in violation of the unwritten rules in producing such atrocious films, there are actual Special Makeup Effects!
Not many, mind you (it's no The Mutilator!), and not innovative in any way, but nevertheless they’re there: a throat-slashing, an arm-hacking and a knife stabbing into (counterfeit) backflesh! They do seem like afterthoughts, filmed and cut in when the horrified investors saw how dry the picture was! (This may be why there is no Special Makeup Effects credit, and if I had to guess, I’d say they were the work of the same duo who did the effects in Tulsa movies like Blood Cult and Revenge, and that one where Tom Savini plays a Jack the Ripper!)
It’s really an awful movie in every way, and the very terrible ending is an even worse purloin from Friday the 13th than we saw in Deep Star Six, but ghosts of that old Tenkiller fascination still linger! Plus, there are those few, brief trick effects and a defiantly regional atmosphere: big plusses in ol' Burl's book! Nevertheless, I can’t muster a rating of higher than one jelly arm, ha ha!
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