Night #3: Don’t Go Into The Woods (1981)

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“Hey, come out of there you jerk you!”

Directed By: James Bryan

Well, that was quite a ride.

It’s understandable that after the success of Friday The 13th in 1980 that there would be a glut of movies in its wake. Most of them were bad. Some were good (As I’ve noted many a time, Friday The 13th Part II is better than its predecessor) and some of them were Don’t Go Into The Woods.

So I don’t know where to begin. Well, in times like this lets just see what IMDB has as the synopsis.

“A maniacal murderer kills tourists in the woods.”

Oh.

Well, technically they’re not wrong. That is basically the plot of the movie. For large swathes of the running time that’s exactly all that happens in the movie. Impressively, the body count for this one was 13 in total. As there are only 4 main cast members, and 2 of those die, that’s an impressive number of folks getting offed. And oh my is it inept. No effort is made whatsoever to give any of these victims a ‘character’. In a few instances some of them don’t even have lines. At one point the movie just cuts to two people being murdered in their sleeping bags and then continues on as normal.

Still, there’s something to be admired in a movie that just wants to give you a kill on average every 6 minutes, though even that can get a bit tiring. By the twenty minute mark, where we’ve actually already had about 6 deaths, I was worn down. Not only because of the impressive lack of filmmaking and editing prowess on display, but because of the worst music I’ve heard in a long time. From the sounds of it, someone had a synthesiser for the day and went wild on it. Literally. Keys are just pressed with abandon and considered good enough. Hilariously though, there is a piece of “comedy” music that plays when we witness a fat couple early on trying to walk up a hill and then again later when a man in a wheelchair is apparently trying to navigate the undergrowth unaided. It’s low-budget bad filmmaking at its finest, though I understand why that might not seem immediately appealing.

Also, every line of dialogue is done in ADR. In case you’re unfamiliar with that term it basically means the film is shot and then the dialogue is re-recorded later on in a studio, with the actors dubbing over their own voices. Like the music, this was probably also done in an afternoon. My favourite instances of this are where people are saying lines that have clearly differed from the original words, complete with a close up on their face so we can see this, and a woman who…Ok I’m going to need to set this up:

So we cut to a couple called, ahem, Dick and Cherry. Dick and Cherry are in some apparent love van that Dick has made: It’s a camper van that’s all pink inside, with heart shaped pillows and a picture of Farah Fawcett taped to the ceiling. Dick is also wearing a Kimono*. Well Cherry hears a noise and Dick decides that he wants to show her what she means to him so he gets his gun and heads outside. Of course, rather than just look around the van he heads deep into the woods in pitch black darkness and gets himself got. Cherry is left alone in the van and the killer violently shakes it, toppling it over(!) and rolling it down a hill where it catches fire and presumably Cherry is killed. However, the whole time this poor actress is clearly in a studio (No effort is made to make this voices sound like they’re outside) and is flatly reading the word “Dick” off a cue-card over and over. Even as the van topples down the side of a hill she continues to say the same word, only this time a little louder. You only know she’s dead when she gives a final “Ah!” and the audio cuts out.

My favourite kill of all of them though is where an ‘artist’ is painting and stabbed from behind (While her stage direction seemed to be “moan as though you’re having an orgasm”) while blood sprays everywhere, including over her Barbara Cartland paperback. I wonder if any clearance was needed for that?

This is, to say the least, a pretty wild movie as well as an astoundingly bad one. And I must mean it because I’ve used an adverb which I usually hate doing. I could never recommend it, unless you’re a particular lover of things that are too bad to be true. There’s so much I haven’t mentioned: the comically overweight sheriff, his deputy who I genuinely believe is delivering his lines as though he’s on the set of a gay porno, the multiple moments where a pulsing red line just appears on the edge of frame due to damaged film stock, blood so red that it’s clearly pasta sauce, a helicopter search that’s abandoned almost the moment it starts for no real reason at all, the doctor who believes the best way to help a woman who has just been stalked for 2 days by a maniacal killer in the woods is to take her back and then lose her, two characters who are frolicking in a pool and don’t notice the two bodies thrown off a cliff and land mere feet from them, and so much more.

Amazingly it also has the audacity to end in a song. Its to the tune of ‘The Teddy Bears Picnic’ and it goes a little something like this:

“Don’t go into the woods tonight, you probably will be thrilled.
Don’t go into the woods tonight, you probably will be killed.
There’s a friendly beast that lurks about,
And likes to feast, you won’t get out,
Without being killed and chopped up in little pieces.”

If you are a glutton for punishment then the movie is on YouTube. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

*This is now on my Christmas list so if anyone wants to get it for me then…

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