The Terror is one of the most unique movies ever
The Terror (1963) may be terrible, but it is one of the most unique movies ever made. This movie was made with leftovers from another movie, The Raven (1963). It has all the stars from The Raven and all the sets from The Raven. The only thing missing is an actual plot. Yeah, The Terror is horrible.
Roger Corman finished The Raven two days early and recruited all the stars to make The Terror, including Boris Karloff. Karloff reportedly hated the schedule, as he was forced to shoot all his scenes in a very short timespan. Corman tried to cram in scenes with Jack Nicholson and the rest of the cast, but the majority of the footage featured scenes of Boris Karloff that made no sense. Big surprise, right?
Roger Corman must really be nuts. He was so obsessive-compulsive, he just couldn’t let those two days go to waste. Whatever the reason, it turned out to be a mess and Corman knew it was a mess, so he left the whole project up to somebody else. That somebody was Francis Ford Coppola, who rewrote the script as he started filming. He got along well with Jack Nicholson, and tried to feature the young star.
If you thought improvising a movie in two days was a mess, well here comes Coppola and a string of other directors to add other nonsensical stuff. Coppola dumped a lot of Karloff’s scenes and added plot twists, and other stupid antics. Dumb characters come and go like a Jehovah’s Witness. Most of the action is people WALKING. Yes, walking around. Characters walk through a scene, over the environment, and babble nonsense to each other on the way. At least they can do two things at once.
I can’t even explain the plot of this overwritten, nonsensical movie. The Baron thinks he has killed his wife, but a Witch creates a ghost of his dead wife to haunt him and drive him insane. Jack Nicholson stumbles upon this story and doesn’t immediately run for the hills. No, he sticks it out like a trooper and tries to figure out what’s going on. It turns out the Baron isn’t really the Baron at all, and the Ghost isn’t who she says she is either. It’s friggin annoying at this point.
Jack Nicholson is really abused in this movie. He’s the guy who they should have made the movie around, but he just comes off as lost, much like the audience. He climbs stuff, tries to help the girl, runs through a cemetary, but still can’t figure out what’s going on. I can’t either. The only thing I can complement are the terrific sets and the remarkable atmosphere. The castle, the matte paintings, and the environment look great.
All in all, this is a bad movie, but it stands alone as the only movie made with the table scraps from another movie. It scratches and claws to become something viable, but drowns in its own nonsensical plot. The funny thing is, Roger Corman didn’t stop there, because he used clips of The Terror in another movie to save money. The guy is frugal to the extreme. What is The Terror really? We never find out. The only thing I know is that you get what you pay for.