The Great Horror Movie Marathon Day Seventeen: Terror at Tenkiller (1986)

Terror at Tenkiller


There’s a video out there of an early NASA test launch probably from the early sixties. In it, the rocket falls over and explodes on the launch pad.


That’s Terror at Tenkiller, a cinematic failure so dull that I was considering abandoning ship halfway through. In it, two college girls named Jana and Leslie (Jana looks like she’s pushing forty, but maybe she’s just an older student?) drive out to Jana’s father’s cabin on Tenkiller Lake. Leslie is dealing with drama from her caveman boyfriend, Josh, and Jana figures a summer away would do her good. After they arrive, Jana tells Leslie a fanciful story her father (apparently a writer) told her about why Tenkiller Lake was called, well, Tenkiller Lake: An Indian maiden was wronged by another tribe (it’s been less than twenty-four hours since I saw it, but I can’t remember how) and responded by killing ten of its bravest warriors; the last, she drags to the bottom of the lake until they both drown, presumably shouting “Allahu akbar!”


Tenkiller Lake is a nice place and all, but the summer vacay is ruined by two things: Josh keeps calling and harassing Leslie and Jana, for one, and for two, some psycho is running around killing people. In fact, the movie opens with a woman named Denise getting her throat slit.


The killer is revealed to be this dude who works at the marina named Tor, whom Jana takes a shine to. Knowing fairly early on who the killer is robs this lametastic crapfest of any suspense it may have possibly gained. Slasher films work best in my estimation if the identity of the killer is concealed until the last possible minute.
Anyway, Jana and Leslie receive a number of disturbing phone calls from someone they assume to be Josh. The caller (Tor, as we know) apparently has a thing for Leslie. In the end, Tor kills Jana and takes Leslie hostage, talking this big game about loving her and how she’s sweet and perfect and ugh, yuck, blah. She belts him and runs. Meanwhile, Josh tracks her down and arrives just in time to get his throat cut. Good. Fuck him. Tor knocks Leslie out and loads her into a dinky ass rowboat. She revives, purposely tips the boat, and swims away while Tor drowns. In a voiceover, Leslie posits that Jana’s Indian maiden dragged Tor down to his death. Oooo. Spooky. Except that’s not it at all. Dude obviously drowns. He fails around like he’s never seen water before, which is funny, considering he works at a marina and boats every day.


Aside from being boring and predictable (I figured Leslie would drown herself and Tor like the Indian maiden, and while that didn’t happen, it came close), Terror at Tenkiller is just so generic. And it plods. Oh, and we can’t forget the terrible acting. Really, there’s nothing to recommend it. No good effects, no interesting or unique kills/settings/premises/etc. It’s like canned squid. It’s on the supermarket shelf, but really has no reason for being.



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