Don’t Go Near the Park

Don’t be fooled by Don’t Go Near the Park. While it sounds like the other “don’t” films, don’cha know* (many of which we’ve covered here, including Don’t Go in the Woods, Don’t Answer the Phone!, Don’t Look in the Basement) it’s actually far from being a straight-ahead stalk ‘n’ slash. In fact, it’s far from being straight-ahead.

You see, Don’t Go Near the Park features immortal cannibal cave people, with a story so byzantine it makes Finnegans Wake look like Ten Little Indians.

Like its slasher brethren, DGNTP features an insane prologue. However, instead of merely going back a generation to explain how being forced to put on a dress turned Little Johnny into a wide-eyed campground Stabby McGee 15 years later, this film takes us back 12,000 years ago.

Picture it: humans lived by torchlight. In caves. Wearing loin-cloths. And they spoke English (who knew?)

We are introduced to cave-siblings, (Patty and Gar) who are somehow cursed to drink human blood in order to quell sped-up aging (ten years for every one). And in order to speed up the plot, the viewer is catapulted to the present, and then vaulted 16 years ahead after that.

Gar rents a room from a landlady (played by horror icon Linnea Quigley, best known for being antler bait in Silent Night, Deadly Night) in the time-honored fashion: walking in on her in the shower (!). Despite this breach of etiquette, he isn’t immediately sent packing in favor of another prospective tenant, but actually is allowed to rent the place (after which, they become a couple).

The 16-year narrative jump is for their teen daughter, the hilariously named Bondi (that’s “Bond-ee,” not like the beach, dear Aussie readers) who’s the apple of daddy’s eye. She’s ostensibly birthed so that Gar and his sister can feast on a virgin. Possibly. This requires a second and maybe a third viewing for further clarification, as the two seem to feast just fine on random people.

To plug the narrative gaps, there’s some exposition aplenty, provided by a somewhat confused local historian, Mr. Taft (the legendary Aldo Ray) who regales an orphan boy with tales of the “demons of Las Filas?” and who voices the film’s titular warning (odd, given there are two separate parks where Gar feasts on his victims, both of which don’t meet any definition of what most would consider a “park”).

With effects that wouldn’t pass muster at the HG Lewis School of Film-making, inappropriate nudity, head-scratching performances, and histrionic wailing like “You never gave me gold!” Don’t Go Near the Park is a bona-fide cult classic and a fascinating bit of gonzo cinema.

*** (out of 5)

[Listen to our podcast discussion of Don’t Go Near the Park]

[*Editor’s note: Many “Don’t” films were added to the Video Nasties list]

Eating Raoul

Eating_Raoul_FilmPosterWith a homicidal skillet skill-set, couple Paul and Mary Bland are looking to finance their dream bistro through unusual means*. Eating Raoul is an untamed satirical sex farce, the brainchild of co-star Paul Bartel, who plays the stoic, dull, predictable and, well…”bland” face of suburbia.

Fired from his job as a wine merchant for the unforgivable sin of steering a customer away from a store-mandated upsell of plonk, the Blands become a single-income household with only Mary (Mary Woronov) and her modest nutritionist income to tide them over.

Their Hollywood apartment complex, which has of late been “attracting real scum,” is the scene of a swingers party, a gathering that disgusts the chaste Blands, even more so when one of the lecher attendees accidentally stumbles into their unit and nearly drowns in their toilet.

He sobers up – enough to return later in the evening to try and have his way with Mary. The couple kill him with the closest household item at hand, a cast-iron skillet slugged over his skull. On his person they find a wallet-full of cold hard cash. Ergo, the light-bulb moment: if they can lure enough of these pervs, a bunch of lousy degenerates whom nobody will miss…they can raise enough for a down-payment on their boîte. Paul and Mary’s Country Kitchen is a venture that will feature…wait for it…”the bland enchilada.”

Eating_Raoul_movie

With the help of a party-going dominatrix, the couple better organize their ruse, prepping for each individual occasion (and client) with toys and unique get-ups.

Things are going swimmingly until they’re caught in the act by Lothario locksmith and petty thief Raoul, who blackmails them while (quite successfully it turns out) making a play for Mary.

Eating Raoul,  in spirit and tone, owes a debt to John Waters, and hell, even the nudie cuties of yore, a terrific satire of nuclear families and permissive sexual mores. New York Magazine suggested it was a spoof of the American ideal of entrepreneurship, although who knows how far their pitch would take them on Shark Tank.

The stellar duo of Mary Woronov and Paul Bartel, real-life friends and frequent co-stars, mesh perfectly. He’s the button up PBS pledge drive type and she’s the leggy supervixen. They sleep in separate beds, hilariously contrasting the chaste mores of the Blands with the unbridled lechers who surround them.

After all, “they’re square…they’re in love…and they kill people.”

***3/4 (out of 5)

[CHECK OUT THE REALLY AWFUL MOVIES PODCAST WHERE WE DISCUSS EATING RAOUL PODCAST]

*Death-by-frying pan is a terrific demise, featured in our book, Death by Umbrella! The 100 Weirdest Horror Movie Weapons.