Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Don't Go In The Woods

Don't Go in the Woods (1981, dir. James Bryan)
Review By Goat Scrote
This is a pretty basic low-grade 80s slasher flick, a weak version of flicks like Friday the 13th and The Burning. A small group of backpackers are hiking into the wilderness. They're headed to... wait for it... a cabin in the woods. Problem number one is their wilderness guide, who is a fussy pain in the ass. "Don't jump off that log! That could have been a fatal mistake!" It’s, like, two feet tall, man. He’s also full of woodsy wisdom like "the most feared animal in the woods is man” and his list of wilderness survival rules:
First, don't panic.
Second, go up not down.
Third, never, never go in the woods alone.
...and be careful of rabies too!

Just a typical low life 70's D.J. trying to score

"You mean there are little furry perverts running around doing unnatural things in these woods?" one of the hikers asks. Sounds like Golden Gate Park after dark! Anyway, the dialogue and characters and humor in this movie are not strong points. The extra-crappy soundtrack consists mostly of several loops played again and again, which was also, shall we say, difficult to enjoy. The body count is reasonably high but I had more fun riffing the action than I did from watching it. I just didn’t feel like it was a very entertaining movie compared to similar flicks from the period.
Things start off with a lone birdwatcher getting dismembered. It's shot in such a way that we really can't tell whether he's being attacked or whether pieces of him just started to fall off by themselves. Maybe the villain is ebola or some kind of super-leprosy? Whoever is responsible for this must have seen the whole limbs-tossed-from-out-of-frame trick in Grizzly and thought it was complete fucking genius. I know I do… comedy gold. 
Then some random dude in a pink beret and pink Hawaiian shirt gets strangled somewhere by someone and gives a goofy scream. Somewhere else – possibly nearby, possibly in Antarctica or perhaps downtown New York, it’s really quite impossible to tell -- a woman in costume jewelry bleeds all over the place. Shades of director Coleman Francis… it seemed like the whole first half of the movie consisted of apparently unrelated things happening to characters we know nothing about at indeterminate locations. People are dying so, you know, points for that, at least. If this keeps up I will really, really need a couple of robot friends to help me keep my sanity.
Margaret Hamilton's estranged daughter
A couple of swingers in a fur-lined VW van are getting it on. She has a pretty amazing schnozz, one of the most incredible non-prosthetic noses ever captured on film. They hear something and Dick... yes, the kimono-clad swinger's name is Dick... goes to investigate. He dies, she gets terrorized, and then the van gets rolled off a cliff with her inside. I remember watching this scene late at night on cable when I was a kid, and now I finally know what movie it's from.
Is it Art or Arse?

Next in line for the slaughter, a painter out in the woods with her toddler gets stabbed, and not long after the killer finally catches up with the group of hikers. One camper gets strung up in her bag and pummelled while her boyfriend gets stabbed through his tent.
Spaceballs' Mog out in the wilderness
Bear trap to the face at 35:20!!!! Sweet! That was pretty decent. And we finally see the killer, some kind of deranged klingon/viking mountain-man. The movie is looking up. Sort of. The campers flee and find the killer's creepy cabin, but then they accidentally kill another hiker, by mistake... this is just not their day, gosh darnit. Two of them get away and get back to civilization. Hooray! Then one of them decides to go back to the killer's turf to rescue a third survivor, who they left behind. Sure, okay, that seems completely reasonable. Don’t bother bringing backup, it’s not like you’re up against a blood-crazed cannibal killing machine on his home turf or anything dangerous like that.
Now there's a guy in a wheelchair up in the mountains by himself, for some comic relief. WTF, movie? Back in town a posse is formed to go in after the bad guy by people who are clearly a lot smarter than the idiot “hero” who ran back into the woods alone. And then the older, out-of-shape sheriff cleverly decides to go off alone to investigate the cabin too. What the hell, people? What IS the average IQ in your part of the world? Aaaaand random wheelchair guy gets decapitated. Thanks for putting him in there, movie, wheelchair guy was a really great character.
The posse brings the other survivor, a red-haired woman into the woods and she leaves the posse behind for some reason, apparently to try to rescue her other friend. She has a machete recovered from the cabin, and between the two of them the survivors tag-team the bad guy and kill him dead. The toddler is still alive, the wildman was carrying her around in a box, but somehow the kid gets left alone out in the woods with a hatchet. The closing theme song is bizarre and silly. This is definitely a movie best enjoyed with plenty of beer, a group of smart-asses to make fun of it with you, and a large supply of popcorn to throw at the TV during choice moments. I faced the movie without these preparations. Don’t make my mistake!

Fans rejoice! Now on Blu courtesy Vinegar Syndrome

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