Director: James Bryan
Screenplay: Garth Eliassen
Cast: Jack McClelland (as Peter); Mary Gail Artz (as Ingrid); James P. Hayden (as Craig); Angie Brown (as Joanne); Ken Carter (as Sheriff); David Barth (as Deputy Benson); Larry Roupe (as Store Owner)
A Night of a Thousand Horror (Movies) #99
Another day, another infamous slasher but one that's difficult for me to defend even if I'm happy it has its fans By now, it's a film-by-film basis whether I actually like the slasher sub-genre or not; here the tone of grungy synth and wooden post-synch dubbing, as a deranged mountain man picks off anyone who steps into his vast track of land in the Utah woodland, should appeal to me for its catastrophic weirdness, another to sit next to The Nail Gun Massacre (1985) in slashers I inexplicably like more than the Friday the 13th films and other popular entries I've seen due to their ramshackle natures. Sadly I can't because, whilst Nail Gun is a constant and prolonged series of madness, Don't Go into the Woods was a slog, a similar series of random murders as the other film but feeling like being actually stuck in the middle of the Utah woods without any guidance to follow. Fair credit due, the woodland setting does stand out, a sense of scale from how vast and isolated it is. Brief snippets of homebrew regional filmmaking is found, mainly anything involving the sheriff department, a sense of character valuable in spite of wooden acting due to verisimilitude, but it was ultimately a bad decision to concentrate on the countless, desensitising number of deaths, where barring four central campers everyone else just pops up to be disposed of immediately.
It worked for Nail Gun only because everything in each scene is illogical and in its own alien world, where even a simple piece of dialogue about finding a body had a bucket load of weirdness to it, whilst here you can see the glue trying to stick it all together and not succeeding. There's a fine line eventually to finding "virtues" in a film like this with their haphazard, unintentional moments of humour, and having to wait for them over a couple of minutes or even over ten. I could find the wheelchair bound man's endless journey up a hill, only to be cut short, sickly hilarious. Cherry and Dick are, understandable, the most well known aspect of the film , despite being characters for one scene, memorable not only for the dialogue and its pronunciation, by just for Dick's ridiculous kimono dressing gown. The score ends with an end credit joke, originally meant for humour but liked well enough to be put in the credits, from the composer that's actually funny in a legitimately way. But a lot of the film is literally a random bystander who looks the same as other random bystander being offered, without tension or shock to it, and there's a period in the middle where the film drags to the point of agony.
A lot of slashers obsess about their body country over characters, but perversely its only where there's a personality to the films that they're actually of any interest to me. It's not just the justifiably well made, or even great, ones that can succeed in this, but those who manage even through clang worthy dialogue and random, unexplained events to have a charm as a result. As much as I'm happy with Don't Go in the Woods...Alone having its own fan base, it was a miserable experience to revisit, not enough humour and fan to sustain it. Moments of actual grit, nastiness with a bear trap or some of the deaths, gives it some weight but a lot of it is difficult for me to gauge with.