The Terror (1963)

Genres - Horror, Mystery, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Costume Horror, Gothic Film  |   Release Date - Jun 17, 1963 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 81 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - R
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As a cinematic experience, The Terror is third-rate at best, a long-winded fable that limps in circles, too haphazard to be great art and not outrageous enough to be great trash. Still, the true student of B-movie mythology may want to spend an hour with it anyway, notorious as the film is for being one of low-budget director Roger Corman's classic rush jobs. After wrapping up his humorous horror free-for-all The Raven early, Corman had two extra days left of Boris Karloff's contract that he was loathe to waste. So, instead of tearing down the sets, Karloff was walked through a series of hastily prepared scenes with co-stars Jack Nicholson and Richard Miller. Corman then subcontracted the direction of remaining exteriors and connecting sequences to various assistants, including Francis Ford Coppola and future cult filmmakers Jack Hill and Monte Hellman, with even Nicholson helming a few shots. With more directors than some omnibus films and no time for a proper script, The Terror was bound to baffle, and its slippery story eventually becomes too sluggish to bother deciphering. While the film is worth little more than an amusing anecdote in Corman's colorful legend, he got lots of mileage out of this patchwork monster. Five years later, Corman again found himself owed two days' work by Karloff, so neophyte director Peter Bogdanovich was offered 20 minutes worth of footage from The Terror to use if he could incorporate it into a new feature for the horror icon. The result was the taut, fascinating Targets, which cast Karloff as an aging horror star whose personal appearance at a drive-in is interrupted by a deranged sniper; of course, The Terror is the program onscreen during the mayhem. Corman productions continued to cannibalize chunks of The Terror in years to come, usually in self-referential spoofs like the silly but enjoyable 1976 comedy Hollywood Boulevard, which featured Richard Miller relaxing at a drive-in and enjoying his own performance from 13 years earlier.