Don't Go in the Woods (Seymour Borde, 1982)

My, my, my, the sort of crap you can find in your local video store when you're looking for a horror film to watch on Halloween night and all of the halfway decent stuff is already taken. Of course, we've culled some good films from these dregs (Let's Scare Jessica to Death immediately comes to mind), but this wasn't one of them.

This movie is bad in every way except the fun way. The acting is atrocious, the script (by Garth Eliassen, his only one produced) is confusing, and the direction (by James Bryan) is simply Slasher Film: the Basics. Ed Wood's films have more entertainment value. At least Wood thought he was making good films. I don't think these people even tried.

Four people (Peter, Ingrid, Craig, and Joanie) go backpacking through the woods. While they are trying to find their way to a cabin (with Craig telling them what they're doing wrong the whole way), we are treated to intercut vignettes of people being ruthlessly slaughtered by an unseen assailant. The first fifteen minutes or so were not so bad (assuming you can forgive the bad acting and cherry-Kool-Aid blood effects), as the killer remained anonymous and I found myself actually wondering who/what it was.

(I'm going to go ahead and tell you so you don't have to watch it for yourself: the killer is a crazed mountain man, dressed all in fur, who carries a knife attached to a pole and growls like a pirate. Hoo-boy!)

Once the killer is revealed, the film goes downhill faster than the multiple heads that rolled before. In fact, there is so much bloodshed (if you can call it that), that this film was placed on the UK "Video Nasties" list of the mid-80's for films with particularly repugnant violence.

Unfortunately, the killings are the most interesting aspect of Don't Go in the Woods (also known as Don't Go in the Woods...Alone!, so be sure to avoid it in all its manifestations). Well, apart from the fact that Ingrid looks to be a relative of the Weasleys from Harry Potter.

There is, of course, a subplot involving the local incompetent police force searching for the killer, but I think it was only a method of padding out the anemic script, which still comes in at about 82 minutes. Not that I was able to sit through the whole thing. My wife left after about 50 minutes to go do something more fun such as cleaning the oven, and so I finished it in scan mode, which relieved some of the pain.

I don't know why I felt the need to finish it but luckily (!) I was around for the end credits, which are played over (and I don't think I'm going out on a limb here) The Absolute Worst Theme Song Ever. Proudly written by composer H. Kingsley Thurher--he has a double credit: "Composer: H. Kingsley Thurher" and "Theme Song Written and Sung by H. Kingsley Thurher" so he must have thought this work was Academy Award quality--it's like something one of your drunk friends would peck out on your piano thinking it was funny...only not as catchy:

Don't go out in the woods tonight or you probably will be thrilled.
Don't go out in the woods tonight or you probably will be killed.
There's a friendly beast who lurks about,
And he likes to feast. You won't get out!
(Without being killed and chopped up in little pieces.)

"A friendly beast?" Oh, never mind. The main attraction of this song is that it is sung with the sincerity and emotion of that well-known children's ditty "The Hearse Song" ("the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out") especially the "chopped up in little pieces" bit that doesn't rhyme. (This being the Web, there's even a link to the blasted thing, if you're into masochism. Click here, then click on woods.mp3.)

I can't believe I've written this much about this atrocious film. Suffice it to say that it wasn't a pleasant experience and I wish I'd had the nerve to ask for my money back. I'll be spending long nights trying to purge this film from my memory.


[Craig Clarke]