Thursday, August 26, 2010
Don't Go in the Woods (1981, James Bryan)
I have vivid memories of seeing Don't Go in the Woods for the first time. I was probably 16 or so and I rented it from my local Blockbuster on VHS. Remember when Blockbuster actually had good movies, not just 376 copies of the latest Jennifer Aniston RomCom? I was already a huge horror fan, which started with my love of Friday the 13th. I would pretty much watch anything that took place in the woods or a summer camp. It even extended into non-genre titles (Meatballs part 2, Little Darlings, Poison Ivy - the one with Michael J. Fox, not Drew Barrymore, Indian Summer, etc, etc, etc) as well. I remember watching this film at home and, oddly enough, my mother sat down and started watching it with me. I still remember her saying "sometimes you just have to watch a movie like this", something I've always held close to my heart. I watched the film again a few years ago and, like the first time I watched it, I thought it was fun but nothing great. After reading the chapter on James Bryan in Stephen Thrower's exquisite Nightmare USA I decided I'd give the film another shot.
A group of four friends go hiking in the woods, reluctant Peter (Jack McClelland), shy Ingrid (Mary Gail Artz), prankster Joanie (Angie Brown) and straight-laced Craig (James P. Hayden). Almost immediately they, as well as several other tourists hiking in the same area, become the target for a crazed, hermit/mountain man dressed in animal fur who lives in a shack and hunts people. Peter and Ingrid manage to escape but after the local authorities sit around licking their nuts, they decide to go back into the woods to find their friends.
I guess for this film, third time is a charm. I absolutely loved it! It was cheesy, poorly acted, silly but entertaining to the highest degree. The gore started immediately and didn't let up until the end. It was great how they just kept throwing random people into the film for the sole purpose of being slaughtered. Normally a slasher film takes some time to get things going, it might start out with a few kills but then there is some down time. Don't Go in the Woods had no down time. It was all action. After one person would get slaughtered, the next victim would quickly be introduced. The group of four were all fun to watch and the maniac was a truly scary and awesome villain. Though you could tell it was all fake, some of the makeup effects and kills were quite brutal and creative. I highly recommend picking up Code Red's 25th anniversary DVD, which has interviews with the director and cast, two commentary tracks and a ton of other stuff.