Monday, 23 February 2015

Don't Go In The Woods…Alone! (1981)

"The PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE of slasher films"

Connoisseurs of backwoods American grot will find much to chuckle at in this enthusiastically amateur effort that has just been given a UK Blu-ray release from 88 Films. 

Four campers set off into the Utah woods. But what’s that hairy thing lurking in the trees and bumping off everyone who dares to trespass in his woods? Why does he kill everyone he comes across? Why is the area not known for a history of brutal murders? Or has he only just decided to do this as an alternative to filling his cabin with old mattresses and Coke signs? Is that the fattest Sheriff in exploitation cinema ever? This answers to these and many other questions that arise during its running time do not lie in this film, which is going to be best enjoyed if you try and imagine what Ed Wood might have achieved if he had still been around at the turn of the 1980s and made a slasher movie. 

Hairy Man Waving A Big Hairy Thing = Run Away Very Fast

Previously banned, DON’T GO IN THE WOODS...ALONE! is actually a non-stop riot of hilarious ineptitude, making it less a disturbing exercise in extreme cinema, and more the PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE of slasher movies. The acting is terrible, the pacing is all off (at the climax the film slows right down when it should be getting going) and the effects are of the squirty tomato ketchup variety. But there’s lots of it, and lots of murders. In fact the one proper accolade DON’T GO IN THE WOODS...ALONE deserves is that it’s never boring. Characters are introduced and have about 0.0001seconds of screen time before they get killed. 

Death as Art or Art imitating Death? One of the many questions not pondered in this film

        No-one in the woods is safe - not the eighteenth century Swiss ornithologist (judging by his outfit) or the most unattractive hippy newlyweds ever. And just to ensure the film stays firmly outside the boundaries of good taste we even get a comedy wheelchair death scene, complete with music. Ah yes, the music. H Kingsley Thurber’s wheezy burpy farty score remains unparalleled in motion picture history, both in terms of its length (the entire film) and its minimalism (three notes and some buzzing and banging noises). There's also the best and most inappropriate final line in a horror film ever.

Good old-fashioned splat we weren't allowed to see in the 1980s

Oh, and let me be clear - if you think this means I didn’t enjoy DON’T GO IN THE WOODS...ALONE, nothing could be further from the truth. Every scene has something to engage the enthusiast of this sort of stuff, whether it’s how much the killer looks like he’s been to the Grizzly Adams Hill Murderer Styling Boutique, or how exploitation cinema’s fattest Sheriff is going to fit into the tiny aeroplane they’re going to use to search for the missing persons, this is a movie whose entertainment value never flags for a moment of its running time.

Why is the man on the right not the star of this, or any other, film?

88 Films have put this film out on Blu-ray. Bizarrely enough it benefits immensely from the format. The Utah locations look lovely and many of the actors’ outfits look even more outrageous. We get two commentary tracks, one from director Bryan and another from the director and others. Neither track treats the film as the comedy gold it actually is. What IS comedy gold on the extras are some Utah talk show segments from the era that are as unmissable as the movie itself. You also get a poster and stills gallery, plus a making of that’s nearly an hour long and is an obvious VHS transfer.
I was expecting very little from this movie but I found it an unexpected (and likely unintentional) delight. They really don’t make them like this any more, and DON’T GO IN THE WOODS...ALONE is a reason for us all to be sorry that they don’t. 

James Bryan's DON'T GO IN THE WOODSALONE is being released on Region B Blu-ray as part of the 88 Films 'Slashers Classics' collection on 2nd March 2015. Never has a title been more deserving of that accolade. 

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