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Film / The Final Sacrifice

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A lost city... A cult of unholy warriors... And a boy's quest for the secret of his father's death.
The tagline

The Final Sacrifice is a noble but doomed attempt to produce an old-fashioned adventure film in rural Canada with an ultra-low budget of around $1500 and an inexperienced cast and director.

Ruled by the evil Satoris, an ancient cult of Canadian wrestlers is bent on world domination. Instrumental to their plan is a map to the ancient Ziox cult idol, recently discovered by young Troy McGreggor. When the cult invades his home to recover the map, he flees and ends up in the bed of a passing pickup truck, driven by the film's hero—a burly, surly Randy Bachman-lookalike hilariously named Zap Rowsdower. At first, Rowsdower considers turning Troy over to the police, but after the boy helps him to fix his broken-down truck and Rowsdower helps Troy escape from the cult leaders again, he decides to let Troy stay with him. Rowsdower and Troy become friends and together search for the lost idol before the cult can claim it and take over the world.

The map leads Troy, and eventually Rowsdower, all over Alberta, through some unlikely caves, and finally to the unkempt shack of a hairy, grizzled fugitive by the name of Mike Pipper. Pipper, a partner of Troy's late father and archaeologist who studied the ancient Ziox civilization, has been hiding in the woods from Satoris for seven years (who never found him, even though it took Troy and Zap a few days at most). Pipper reveals that the cultists are the last descendants of the Ziox, an ancient culture whose civilization was destroyed by their god after they turned away from it and worshiped an evil idol instead. According to Pipper the Ziox built a great city that was more advanced than "anything the ancient Egyptians or Romans ever knew", but their god sank the city in a month-long rainstorm.

Eventually, Troy is captured by Satoris and his cult. Satoris means to make Troy the titular final sacrifice, which will give him an army of invincible zombie warriors. It's up to Rowsdower to save Troy and put an end to the cult's activities.

Directed by Tjardus Greidanus, a film student at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, it utilized a cast of local theater actors and fellow students. It received a VHS release under the title Quest for the Lost City, and occasionally aired on Canadian television in the early '90s, but remained extremely obscure until it was discovered by Best Brains and featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Not to be confused with Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice.

The Final Sacrifice contains examples of:

  • A-Team Firing: Throughout the film, most notably during a long car chase in which the villains spray the truck with bullets and yet fail to hit either of the truck's occupants. In another example, Rowsdower fires a shotgun at two cultists at near point-blank range and misses.
  • Achey Scars: Rowsdower's tattoo.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Troy, despite being a bit too young to be that good at it. From the way other characters refer to him, it seems Troy's father Thomas was a more straightforward example.
  • The Alcoholic: Rowsdower. His empty beer bottles and flask do come in handy, though.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: Eagle Hat is the center of the Ziox civilization.
  • The Alleged Car: The Rowsdower-mobile, which apparently needs hard liquor to start it up.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Hinted at by Zap driving into the sunset in his beat-up pick up truck.
  • Atlantis: The capitol city of the Ziox civilization, but instead of sinking into the sea it was pulled into the ground.
  • The Atoner:
    • Rowsdower is a former member of the Ziox cult trying to do better now.
    • The Ziox themselves, for a brief time after their city was pulled into the ground before Satoris took over and started using them for his own ends.
  • Badass Longcoat: Satoris has one.
  • Big Bad: Satoris.
  • Bond, James Bond: "The name's Rowsdower. Zap Rowsdower."note 
  • Catapult Nightmare: Rowsdower has an unnecessarily dramatic yell after having a nightmare about getting his cult sign burned into his arm.
  • Catchphrase: Zap Rowsdower!
  • Chewing the Scenery: Satoris gets a lot of these.
  • Chromosome Casting: Save for the very brief appearance of Troy's aunt, every other character in the film is male.
  • Cold Open: The film opens on a scene of Satoris' cultists chasing someone through the woods before going into the opening credits.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The entire plot is pretty much a long string of these.note 
    • So seven years after killing Troy's father, the cult just happened to find out where Troy lives and decided to storm his house right around the time when Troy looked through his father's old notes and found the map to the Ziox ruins?
    • Of all the pick-up trucks in all of Canada, Troy stows away in the one that just so happens to belong to a man who has ties to the cult that killed his father and is now after him. Not only that, but the truck of the one cult member who tried to save his father.
    • Basically everything Troy and Zap need to find, including the final objective, is within a very short driving distance from Troy's house.
    • While on the run from the cult, Troy and Zap just randomly discover a cabin belonging to Thomas McGreggor's old archaeology partner, Mike Pipper.note 
    • In the final fight with Satoris, which takes place at a random spot in the middle of a forest, there not only just happens to be a grappling hook on the ground for the heroes to pick up and use, but also a loaded rifle.
  • Covers Always Lie: This was the cover for the US release of the film. There are no swords in this movie, and those two guys on the cover look nothing like either of the two actual leads.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Done with Rowsdower when he has a nightmare about when he was first inducted into the cult. The cult members tie him to a cruciform to brand him, and this for some reason causes his wrist to bleed.
  • Disappeared Dad: Troy's father was killed by the cult in the beginning of the film.
  • '80s Hair: Rowsdower's mullet. Satoris had one at the start of the film as well, before trading it in for a slick feather job.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Satoris wears a wedding ring throughout the entire movie, though it's never mentioned.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Satoris. Just hearing him say "Zap Rowsdower!" just makes that name all the more funny.
  • Foreshadowing: A visual one. One concerning Rowsdower's past. In the very first shot of the film the mook on the left applies his red's definitely Rowsdower! His wrists are even bandaged from the ordeal later shown in the nightmare scene. This would be easy to miss since the viewer's eye would be naturally focused on Satoris & the campfire to notice.
    • In the scene where Troy is translating the map, there is a X created by shadows in the same pattern over the map on the cave wall that Pipper later puts on Troy's map.
  • Fruit Cart: During the chase scene early on, the goons chasing Troy in their vehicle plow into some trash cans, just because.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Pipper turned into one of these over time.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The cultists are incredibly inefficient.
    • They can't capture a scrawny teen on a bicycle, even when they regroup and give chase in a car.
    • Troy eludes capture again by lying on the ground. They walk right past him without bothering to look down.
    • When Rowsdower get hold of a shotgun, they obligingly attack him one at a time so that he can pick them off.
  • Heal It with Booze: Rowsdower pours a drink on a branded mark.
  • Heel Realization: At some point, Rowsdower realizes the cult was evil and tried to save Troy's dad, leaving said cult afterward.
  • Human Sacrifice: Well, it's part of the title. Ironically, it turned out that Satoris was the titular Final Sacrifice.
  • The Drifter: Zap. Troy even refers to him by exactly this term.
  • The Hero: Rowsdower? Maybe? The movie sets Troy up as the protagonist, but then Rowsdower takes over most of the heavy lifting, but then the actual heroics don't have much to do with either of them.
  • Improvised Weapon: During his final confrontation with Satoris (who's wielding a torch), Rowsdower uses a grappling hook. No, not on a rope. There just happened to be an abandoned grappling hook nearby, which Rowsdower uses as a cudgel.
    • Meanwhile, Troy, in what is probably his first and only useful act, picks up the perfectly serviceable rifle from the exact same area.
  • Inherently Funny Words: Aside from the name Zap Rowsdower, the Ziox, which sounds too much like Hydrox, a cookie sandwich that predates Oreos.
  • Large Ham: Satoris loves to munch on the scenery and talk like Darth Vader.
  • Leitmotif: Satoris gets one. It's first heard when he enters Troy's house with his minions.
  • Low-Speed Chase: Toward the end, the Ziox mooks chase Rowsdower up a hill. But the hill they're climbing happens to be incredibly steep, so they all run up the hill slowly.
  • MacGuffin: The map to the idol....which is eventually rendered pointless when Satoris just torches it from a distance anyway for no reason.
  • Magnetic Plot Device: The map to the idol.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The black-clad mooks.
  • My Greatest Failure: Rowsdower's unsuccessful attempt to save Troy's father—Satoris left him alive afterward just so his failure would continue to torment him.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Eagle Hat is apparently a Portmanteau of Medicine Hat and Eagle Butte, both in Alberta.
  • No Ontological Inertia: When Satoris is killed, all of his minions magically lose their cult tattoos (including Zap), and they just... go home and forget the whole cult thing.
  • Off the Grid: Mike Pipper lived in a cabin at one of his base camps, that had no electricity or phone service.
  • Older Sidekick: Rowsdower to Troy.
  • The One That Got Away: Likely implied with the photo of the woman on Rowsdower's dashboard...a likely reminder of his former life before the Ziox messed it up.
  • Our Ancestors Are Superheroes: The ancient Ziox civilization, which the cultists are descended from (and which Rowsdower is only a halfbreed descendant of.) Before being cursed by their gods, the Ziox had the power to make floating cities and, if Sartorus is any indication, at least some of them had psychic powers as well.
  • Religion of Evil: The goal of this particular religion is to raise an army of zombies to Take Over the World.
  • Riding into the Sunset: Zap in his rusted down pickup truck.
  • Stock Unsolved Mysteries: Troy finds a folder labeled "Lemon Mine" among his father's things. The Lost Lemon Mine is an urban legend about a supposed gold mine reputed to be somewhere in Alberta.
  • Tell Me About My Father: Troy asks this question, in almost exactly this phrasing, to Rowsdower. He also asks Pipper a similar question.
  • Title Drop: Failed
    Satoris: You will be the last sacrifice! The last one...
  • Touched by Vorlons: Very subtly implied with Satoris, since those brands vanish when he's killed.
  • Unexplained Recovery:
    • Rowsdower is run down and struck on foot by a truck driven by the cultists chasing him. He lies motionless, then the next shot shows Rowsdower up and running with no ill effect... or pursuers for that matter.
    • Rowsdower's truck at the end. It seemed to have died for good early on. Maybe the "Good Ziox City" forces fixed it or something.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: One of the cultists, when they attack the house.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Satoris sounds like a cross between Darth Vader and Jesse "The Body" Ventura.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Where the heck did Pipper's horse go after Rowsdower rode it to the area near the idol? He dismounts the thing and that's the last we see of it. Troy's aunt likewise disappears early in the movie.
  • Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: Satoris, after initially subduing Rowsdower and keeping him at bay by having every one of his goons pointing rifles at him... asks two of his minions to leave and kill him, thus providing Rowsdower with plenty of opportunity to escape. As opposed to just shooting him *right there* when he was helpless. Particularly heinous in that Satoris tells the minions "Take him out to the woods and kill him." Telling them this as they're holding him right there in the middle of the woods, and no reason whatsoever that the spot they were at was any worse to execute someone than another patch of woods 100 yards west.
  • You Killed My Father: Troy is led to believe that Rowsdower killed his father and loses faith in him. Eventually it's revealed that Rowsdower actually tried to prevent the death. Of course, since Satoris would have given the order, he's still the figure that gets the lion's share of the blame anyway.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: There's basically two ways to settle the Ziox issue: destroy the evil idol and restore the city, or Satoris' plan: appeal to the idol itself and raise the Ziox dead as this - an unstoppable, unkillable army which will allow their owner to Take Over the World.