Within the first 5 minutes of Don’t Go in the Woods you are treated to bad acting, almost slapstick music and an unseen killer murdering a badly dressed hiker. I thought I was in for a whale of a time with this movie with some dumb good clean fun. How wrong was I!?
Amongst the seemingly hundreds of people wandering around the hills are a group of friends hiking in the woods. One of the group is taking things extremely seriously pointing out the do’s and dont’s of hiking. The others don’t really care and are messing about or not appreciating the natural beauty. (To be fair I’d probably be one of the people who couldn’t give a toss as I cant stand camping!) Right there, I’ve given you more character development than you get with any of the people in Don’t Go in the Woods.
I mentioned earlier that there are loads of people in these hills; that is an understatement, as the woods are positively teeming with folk. There is no chance that you would ever get lost as you’d practically be tripping over people. There is even a person in a wheelchair in the woods. Alone! I kid you not.
Unbeknownst to everyone they are being stalked by an unseen killer. A lot of the kills are carried out in first person view and when the killer is finally revealed he resembles a murderous Stig of the dump. When people start to disappear the police would rather play pinball or golf than search for the missing persons. To be honest, the Sheriff could do with a bit of hiking and lose a few pounds.
I have some real problems with the score for Don’t Go in the Woods as its all over the place, wildly swerving between tense and threatening to country and western to slap stick. The Director; James Bryan, says in the commentary that he wanted to go for something resembling John Carpenter. Let me tell you right now that they didn’t achieve this. In fact the score really starts to get on your wick with its constant use of droning beats when something vaguely bad is going to happen.
All of the above could be taken in good humour and not too seriously, but it’s not just the score that is misjudged as the whole tone of the movie suffers from similar problems. There is a scene where a mother is murdered in front of her toddler and then a suggestion that the toddler is either taken or murdered. This is where I lose any sense of humour with the movie. For a film to swerve so heavily from almost comedic moments to a suspected child murder is too much in my opinion. The movie also mocks the disabled person in the wheelchair who inevitably falls over accompanied by the slapstick music. I know times have changed and trust me when I say, i’m not one of the ultra politically correct brigade but even this made me cringe.
I feel in a privileged position being able to review movies for 80s Picture House and 60 Minutes With, so I hate to be negative, but watching Don’t Go in the Woods was a real chore. Even at a running time of 1 hour 21 minutes it dragged. I’m a fan of horror movies and I’m not bothered about low budgets, bad acting or anything like that but I really didn’t get on with Don’t Go in the Woods. In fact I’d go so far as to say it’s a nasty vicious piece of work. I could only recommend it to someone who has an interest in early 80s low budget horror movies that were part of the infamous video nasties banned on its original release. Or you could save your money and grab one of 88 Films other cracking movies on offer.
There are a surprising amount of extras on the disc which is credit to 88 Films.
- Audio Commentary from Director James Bryan. James is very amiable and shares his knowledge and experience of the movie.
- Group Commentary with Deron Miller, Mary Gail Artz and James Bryan. The group chat about the movie and ask James various questions about scenes as they play out. Deron is a fan of the movie and has fun chatting with James and Mary.
- All region codes.
- Brand new 2k transfer overseen and approved by director James Bryan
- The making of Don’t Go in the Woods… Alone. A 56 minute making of where the director, cast and crew chat about the movie and their experience on set.
- Talk show appearance – Director James Bryan and star Tom Drury appear on an 80s TV show chatting about the movie.
- Theatrical Trailer
- Poster and production stills Gallery
- Trailer reel of other movies available from 88 Films
- Reversible sleeve
- Collectors booklet by Calum Waddell featuring an in-depth interview with director James Bryan
Review by Chris from a disc kindly supplied by 88 Films.