Thursday, April 4, 2013

REVIEW: Don't Go in the Woods (1981)

Slasher horror movies were the big trend in the late 70s early 80s, with everyone trying their hand at making one. And honestly, they shouldn’t have. That’s a phrase people usually use to be all polite and tell another person that he or she has done something far nicer than the original person deserves, and it sort of applies here – hell, I put far more thought into this review than there ever was in this movie. Yes, this is Don’t Go in the Woods, and it’s the original film that the 2010 musical slasher movie of the same name was based on. Awesome, right? Can’t you just feel the anticipation for more great musical moments?

Director: James Bryan
Starring: The woods

What’s that? This has nothing to do with the 2010 version and the only music we’re going to get out of it is god-awful screaming that would even be out of place on a Brokencyde album? Wow. That sounds absolutely hideous! So I guess I’ll review it…

Yes, this is a special kind of movie…I mean, literally you won’t even be missing much if you just didn’t even read this review. Just press the ‘back’ button right now. There are so many other things you could be doing instead of reading a review for this waste of time, vapid-ass movie, and I’ll list them right now: You could plant a tree. You could read a book. You could go talk to your local congressman about what to do to stop violence against the homeless. You could…aw, damn, you’re still there, aren’t you? You’re still reading this one. Well, alright. I mean, this is the kind of movie that I’m pretty sure had no actual director on set most of the time. I bet he went off to drink at the pub during most of this shitty movie. But if you really want to continue…sigh…let’s get into Don’t Go in the Woods…the 1981 version.

We start off with the credits! Yes, the first couple of minutes is nothing but the credits, which usually are at the end of the movie but here are just slapped right at the beginning. I guess so you know right away who to blame for this whole fiasco.

Pfft, yeah, story and screenplay, as if to imply this movie ever had either of those things.

After that, we get transported to THE WOODS, the hot spot for every slasher movie ever, apparently, where a hot chick is getting chased through the woods by some unknown attacker. She falls in the water and…that’s kind of the end of her. We don’t get to see the beginning of the chase or the end. Kinda disappointing there, movie.

This movie is cutting edge - I think she really got her blouse dirty in this scene.

Then we get something completely different as a GUY is walking through the woods and gets killed! Get it? It’s different because it’s a different sex AND he’s just WALKING through the woods as opposed to running. Oh, and something weird happens where he gets killed by a bunch of trees.

You can't see it that well, but the trees CUT HIS ARM OFF. How?! How is that possible? You don't establish at any other point in the film that the trees are evil, but here they can kill a man and cut off his arm. Oh, who am I kidding; I don't really care. As long as it's not The Happening, I'll buy anything you throw at me.

I guess this was the inspiration for that infamous Evil Dead scene, which I guess makes this a good movie. Hell, don’t even go see the Evil Dead remake this weekend. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m sure this is the better movie, as it obviously has more to do with the true spirit of Evil Dead.

We then get introduced to our main characters, the trees. There are some other side characters, like this group of Brady Bunch rejects wearing costumes that look like a South Park impersonation of wildlife preservationists…

Boy or girl? You decide...a common game to play in this film, sadly enough.

…but mostly it’s the trees which will be the focus of the film. I mean, why else would the director focus more shots on the woods than on the actual characters? There are so many scenes in this thing that just up and end, and then the director goes back to showing us stills of any random nature documentary. In fact, I think that’s what happened with this movie. There were actually two film crews in the woods; one making a slasher movie and one making a nature documentary. The slasher movie crew caught some of the nature documentary’s footage and just figured, screw it, nobody will ever watch this movie anyway, and the director won’t notice because he’s too busy getting drunk off his ass.

Alright, alright, I’m sorry for going on so many tangents in this review, but honestly, what the hell am I supposed to say? There’s no story. The first half hour of this thing is just the Brady Bunch rejects wandering around spouting dialogue that sounds more like the inside of a Safe Camping pamphlet they give you at the wildlife reserve. How am I supposed to be entertained by this? Is it bad that I’m actually wishing for the usual slasher tropes like sex and drugs? Please, somebody, get me out of this extended, badly produced after school special on camping etiquette!

I guess after a while we see the police trying to solve some of the unfinished murder scenes from earlier. We waste precious screentime that you could be using instead to walk out and go home by showing a bunch of characters talking about pointless things. The front desk lady gets asked several times where the sheriff is, and she tells them he’s “busy.” Right. “Busy.” I bet he’s just in his office playing golf.

Huh. I was correct...he was playing golf. And he also looks like a whale that ate Andy Griffith.

Uh, wait. No. That can’t be the sheriff. I’m sorry, I just think I’d rather have a sheriff more concerned with my public safety than where he’s going to find his next snack. And I know it’s mean to make fun of fat people, but come on; throughout this whole movie he is shown to be completely incompetent and with pretty much no redeeming qualities. Hell, he’s lazing around in his office playing golf right after somebody was murdered in his town. What kind of asshole is this guy? Hell, even his weight can’t be normal. I bet he got that fat from EATING LIVE CHILDREN. Look at him! He’s the kind of sicko who would eat children not even because he’s evil, so much as he’s just hungry.

Ugh, okay, whatever. We then see that the killer doesn’t like this lady’s paintings. And so he spices them up a bit.

I always said murder could improve modern art. I'm glad movies like this are finally listening to me.

The killer looks sort of like John Goodman if he went insane and started living as a crazy wild man in the forest. He’s completely ludicrous, is never given any explanation and spends most of the movie screaming horrendously at the top of his lungs. I mean, it’s god-awful – one of the most painful things I’ve ever heard in my life. Jesus; it sounds like a monkey getting butt-raped by a walrus. It’s literally like someone just took some still shots of the woods and then vomited all over them in the editing studio. I’d get angrier about it, this heinous noise, but really, what is the point anyway? Nobody ever took a second look at this once it was patched up to something resembling a movie. I bet half the people involved forgot about this thing a month after completion.

After that, we get a sex scene between an 80s blond version of Nicolas Cage and, apparently, Michael Jackson:

There's no way that isn't two men. Please don't even TRY to tell me that's a man and a woman sharing an intimate moment - that is two men!

There’s an image I never wanted to see. Fortunately they both get killed off by more bad editing and lack of funding for gore effects. Ahh, how karma pays back, and pays back well.

Let’s move on now, to something completely new and alien to this movie up to now: an actual plot! Yes, 45 minutes in and we finally decide which characters to focus on…isn’t that amazing? If you’re wondering, it’s these two:


They’re gender-androgynous like all the other young characters in the film, and they’re pretty bland…though they do actually find a way back to civilization, which is more than I can say for some of the other characters. The one girl, who has been injured, gets hospitalized, and the other guy goes insane. I’m not even making that up: he goes insane in the short time between this scene and the next time we see him, because apparently seeing a bunch of dead bodies wrapped up Black Christmas style with plastic suffocating them is traumatic or something. Pfft.


Either way, it’s bad writing. Surprised? I didn’t think so.

The cops finally hit on the great truth of what to do next – go into the woods where all of the victims have come from. Yup, it took them a whole movie to figure out this insanely easy truth, to just go where all the dead people are coming from, and MAYBE that’s how they’ll find their killer! What, did the sheriff just spend too much time eating children to do that before? Why the deliberation, you assholes? Any other county would’ve been out there five minutes after the first body showed up looking for clues! Not these guys. They’re the easy going, laid back and fun police department…child cannibalism debatable.

Apparently, the one crazy guy escapes from police custody – apparently it’s about as hard as opening a door of your own free will and just casually walking out. So out in the woods, we see more great policework, as they apparently bring the injured girl from the hospital out to look at the dead bodies and help them find the guy, because, yeah, this really happens! I’m sure police in real life always bring traumatized victims out to the crime scene, show them the dead bodies and the murder weapons…yeah, awesome work, you idiots. What’s next? Just…leaving her out there in the woods long after the night settles in, and then just shrugging it off and saying they’ll look for her in the morning?

No. No no no. Not even these morons could be that stupid!

…could they?

Well, according to the movie, yes. Yes, that is what the police do. Are you shitting me? What was the thought process? “Oh, she’s not following us…let’s just keep going, guys!” What were they thinking?

I really hope whatever donut shop these yokels are headed to blows up upon arrival.

Well, I know what the sheriff was thinking…


Well, I can speculate anyway.

There's this other chick from earlier who somehow survived up to now - I love how there's a scene where she finds a taco shell in the garbage, on the ground, and picks it up and eats it. Like she's really been gone long enough to resort to eating garbage. Lady, the road isn't that far away! Find it and go to a Denny's somewhere! If the other morons in this movie can navigate their ways to civilization, I'm sure you can figure it out! But sadly that never happens, because she gets killed off a few seconds later. And here is where all of the budget for this movie went:

Was it worth it?

We also get some scenes of a guy in a wheelchair aimlessly rolling through the woods. They’re randomly interspliced with the scenes of the cop buffoonery, and mostly seem pointless, until he gets his head cut off. Why? How? Who the hell was he? Why would you ever go into the woods randomly if you’re stuck in a wheelchair and have nobody around to help you? The answer to all of these questions is “no.”

After a clumsy fight scene between the crazy guy and the killer, the movie decides that it’s over now, probably because the rest of the crew all got bored and fell asleep, or just left the set entirely, never to return. And who can blame them? This is the kind of movie that mostly functions as a way to melt your brain. Like if you want a faster way than watching the current state of American economics, just turn on this movie. I never thought I would say this, but I’d rather even watch the 2010 musical crapfest over this movie! It’s seriously just nonsense, from beginning to end. There’s nothing about this film that really adds up, and frankly, with all the screaming and yelling without any purpose, it’s literally painful to watch sometimes.

But overall, this is just so confusing and strange that it’s impossible to actually hate. It’s like an alien artifact from a time long gone. While horrendously bad, there isn’t much about it that will really offend or disgust you. If I can’t even understand the mindset behind the film’s creation, how can I really hate it? A question to ponder.

But enough of these strange experiments in the most underground and unknown films around…let us venture again into something much more deserving of my hatred and spite...something so loathsome, terrible and all-around shitty that it ascends to a new level of hideousness and deplorable rotten spirits...


Brace yourselves!

PS. If you're interested in watching Don't Go in the Woods (1981), the full movie is up on YouTube for anyone to see! Go, my audience, and witness the 80s shlock in all its magnificent incompetence!

Images copyright of their original owners, I own none of them.