Terror Peak (2003)

Sex :
Violence :
Director Dale G. Bradley Reviewer :
Writers Dale G. Bradley, Kyle Southam, Rebecca Southam, Peter Sullivan
Starring Lynda Carter, Parker Stevenson, Antony Starr, Emily Barclay, William Davis, Peter Elliott
Genre Disaster
Tagline It became the holiday from hell
15 second cap Teen chick goes missing in volcano vents as dormant mountain gets ready to explode, melodrama ensues


"Exactly we're never had readings like this before" - Dirk

Two years previous some scientific dude named Dirk succumbs to poisonous gasses rising up out of the ground at a dormant volcano, naturally Dr Janet Fraser is unaware of this tragedy as she joins her husband Kevin on a tourist fact finding mission to Mount Extreme in New Zeland. Along for the ride is Janet's daughter Melanie, who foster father Kevin hopes to bond with through the working holiday. Unfortunately for the collective Frasers, the final tour Operator is Patrick, an Irishman who is nearly bankrupt and to be honest, is someone not aware of public liability. Adding to Patrick's troubles is Rangi, his former partner who has riled up the local Iwi on land rights issues.

Guess we all know the drill from here, a serious of events indicates the dormant Mount Extreme is about to wake up on the wrong side of the bed and cause major issues for the cast. Thankfully Janet is a former volcanologist, who gave it away due to her first husband dying in the Philippines as she checked out an erupting volcano there. As luck would have it Melanie and local hunk Jason end up in the volcanic vents as the heat rises and Mount Extreme prepares to go supernova. Can Kev do the righty and save Mel and Jason, or are we talking quick fried teen here?

Proving that the Shaky Isles and Uncle Sam can work together on more than a Tolkien adaptation, Director Dale G. Bradley demonstrates just what they can do when they try on Dante's Peak for size Kiwi-style. We have two has been Yank Actors, Lynda Carter, best known as Wonder woman, and Parker Stevenson best known for something or other that soap opera viewers would be familiar with. A host of kiwis including the excellent Emily Barclay, woefully misused in this one, Antony Starr, who has done a bunch of stuff Downunder, William Davis, Peter Elliott, who delivers a variable Irish accent, and a host of others. The final ingredient naturally is the actual volcano that appears to be of the painted variety, apparently common in New Zealand and various Hollywood sets. You have to ask yourself what could possibly go wrong with this line-up of awesomeness?

Unfortunately it all starts going downhill rapidly with Lynda Carter, who proves she can't actually act, gathers momentum with the rather ineffectual character Parker Stevenson delivers on, and finally crashes and burns with some of the worse dialogue that it's been my misfortune to be subjected to. Fair crack of the whip, even Stephenie Meyers would be embarrassed to see her name attached to this example of sugary sweet platitudes and nothingness. Can't you feel the trust, can't you feel the love, I probably would of except I was wondering whether I might need a bucket handy. Quite frankly most teens I know would have happily thrown the Fraser parental units into the nearest lava filled vent rather than being seen in public with them.

So bad it's not actually good, somehow I did still manage to watch the flick without undue harm to self
The plot doesn't improve much from the half arsed dialogue to be honest, and at stages even I was left wondering if the overly convoluted writing team might not have a future with the Asylum movie people. There are a number of groaners coming at you, Patrick and Rangi's whacky relationship, no one taking Janet Fraser seriously when she warns the local village needs to be evacuated immediately, and of course the first scene that really goes nowhere interesting. Got to say the cream on top of this particular bowl of "B" gradeness was the almost mystical Maori chick who spent parts of the movie singing in various locations around the Mountain. While I was quite prepared to rock to the supernatural ghost leanings that the Writers seemed to be headed for, I was slightly disappointed when they came up with a more mundane explanation. Actually thinking about it, the Maori mystic elements thrown into the mix got lost pretty quickly once the fireworks hit some sort of a delivery after a lot of teasing.

Our batch of Colonial actors looked pleased to have a paying gig and threw everything they had at their roles, Antony Starr and Emily Barclay might be wondering if they need new Agents, but their talent did shine through, though it was bloody hard work for at least Barclay, who's character Melanie is really really irritating, like finger nails on a chalk board kids. There's not a lot you can do when you are given a script this bad, besides grinning and putting your best foot forward, oh and ensuring you cash your pay cheque prior to the movie underperforming Producer expectations.

Surprisingly, considering this movie clearly didn't have a huge budget, the volcanic effects are pretty much okay. Besides the clear painted background used in stages, and I sort of dug that in the same way you have a warm feeling for that ginger haired nephew, the lava situation is on par at least with Dante's Peak, there's a helicopter out racing a pyroclastic flow (nearly always awesome), and lava bombs apparently behaving in a well-mannered way, i.e not taking out the set or major characters. I'm giving this all a passing mark to be honest, Uwe Boll would have been proud of the effort going in on the realism front.

I do of course give fair dues when they are warranted, Terror Peak is the only movie ever made that includes Maori land right protests, an exploding volcano, and a former Wonder Woman, mixed up in the plot. Now how awesome is that, well not really, but it's mildly interesting.

I'm actually out of things to say about this journey into the strange. We get a love angle between Melanie and Jason that doesn't pan out, she reminds him of his younger sister, the elder Frasers threatening to get hot and heavy at some stage, no one wants to see that, and the hot being provided by the Mountain.

Besides the strangely disjointed pacing of Terror Peak I had some fun with the movie. While it's not going to be the best flick I catch this year it gets where it's going with a minimum of effort, adds some tension in the final block, and presents some believable science. The plot was a hoot, just how bad can you make dialogue? - and the Producers didn't seem to know if they wanted to take things seriously or throw their hands in the air like they just don't care. If you don't mind light tele-movies then you certainly could do worse, check it out people, the movie doesn't bite.

For additional information head on over to NZ Videos, where you just might stumble upon a second opinion. The movie is available on DVD Downunder, I've stumbled across it a couple of times, but for this review I caught up with a region one release for no apparent reason.

ScaryMinds Rates this movie as ...

  Exploding volcano and Maori mysticism, probably not a good mix if I had to be honest