terror at tenkillerUnited Artists, Inc.

Terror At Tenkiller is another in a long line of low-budget slasher movies that came out in the 1980s. Yeah, they were poppin’ them out like Pez candy back then. It’s not hard to see why–most of these movies could be mad eon a shoestring budget, not having to be too elaborate with the effects, and the plots themselves come in pre-packaged paint-by-numbers. It’s rather hard to actually ruin a slasher horror. So, when one comes around that does manage to mess things up, it is something to behold.

As you may have already made the connection, the 1986 direct-to-video slasher Terror At Tenkiller does just that.

Shot on video entirely in Oklahoma, Terror At Tenkiller was an 80s slasher title that I had never heared of until just this year. That is indeed a rarity. Usually I’ve heared about a movie years before stumbling upon it. But with Terror At Tenkiller, I happened upon it while going through the horror movie streaming section on Amazon. The cover made me think it was cheesy goodness. Alas, it was anything but.

After a fight with an estranged boyfriend, Leslie and Jana take off on vacation and strange things start to happen at their remote cabin. Soon corpses begin turning up near the lake. One by one friends start to disappear, but the horror of these murders does not fully dawn on the heroine until she comes across the dead body of Jana. Is the killer Jana’s psycho boyfriend? Is it the weird handyman? Or is it somebody else?

I have a theory that, whoever was involved with the making of Terror At Tenkiller, probably watched a slasher flick and thought, “I can make one of those, easy.” Kind of like when someone watches a stand up comic and thinks, “I can do that.” And thus, we have a slasher movie that completely ignores all the ingredients that makes a slasher movie good: things like suspense, plot twists, story arcs, or even third-act reveals. Or motivation.

This movie decides to get the reveal of the actual killer out of the way within the first reel of the movie. That is the biggest misstep this movie takes, as it eliminates any kind of tension or suspense the plot could have had. And let’s face it, the plot itself is rather paper thin to begin with, which is fine, as you don’t go into an 80s slasher flick expecting a nuanced and complicated storyline. I do expect at least an effort to make the killer’s identity a mystery until at least the third act. Spoiling things like that just makes everything else lame. From the very sub par acting, to the slow pacing and bad editing beats; by the time the end credits roll, I would be surprised if you were still invested in the movie itself by then. I stopped caring about a third of the way in. Pass.