It’s a great start, a jaunty, chilling tune…and DGITW is a slasher clad in natural horror furs. When campers start getting picked off one by one, a search party/posse heads out to find out what’s wrong, just as they would if a bear were roaming too close to their campsites. The involvement of law enforcement early on is what separates Don’t Go in the Woods from most slashers, where cops usually only show up with 5 minutes to spare in order to throw a comfy blanket around the Final Girl and rope the scene off with yellow police tape.
Guess you could say Don’t Go in the Woods is a different kind of beast altogether, even more low budget than the kind of 80s slasher film that became so interchangeable between 1981 and 1985.
The film got caught up in the Video Nasties panic in the 80s, but truth by told, it is nowhere near as depraved and sleazy as Don’t Answer the Phone or The Hills Have Eyes, and that’s probably because of the incredibly fake Herschell Gordon Lewis-colored blood, definitely ballpark hot dog-ready.
The plot? It couldn’t be more simple: Four backpackers are traipsing about the backwoods of Utah. When they shouldn’t be.
It’s a gorgeous backdrop, the soundtrack is ominous…but this thing is one hot mess. Don’t Go in the Woods is…to put it kindly…episodic. Or to put it less so, incoherent.
A cub-scout leader-type offers his 3 key survival tips for being out in the bush, each lukewarmly received by his mates. Tip #3? Don’t Go in the Woods…alone (the film’s other title, FYI).
What we’re left with is a kind of video nasty version of Big Foot meets Friday the 13th…but apart from a few stabbings…it’s fairly tepid stuff (and no nudity either).
But one can’t help but admire the independent spirit that went into this, a connective tissue that puts it in the company of some of the uber-low budget horrors sent our way.
By their own admission, none of the cast claimed to be actors. And you won’t know any of director James Bryan’s other 19 films, save for The Executioner Part II.
Not even a must-see for horror completists.
*1/2 (out of 5)
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