Don't Go Into The Woods...Alone! (pre-cert UK video cover).jpg

This is one of the group of horror movies banned in the UK in the early 80's; which came to be known as the 'Video-Nasties'...   1 star   Cheese Rating: 100% King Cheese!

"Everyone has nightmares about the ugliest way to die."

directed by: James Bryan
starring: Jack Mc Clelland, Mary Gail Artz, James P. Hayden,
Angie Brown, Ken Carter

(back of video blurb):
       "Four young campers, Craig, Peter, Ingrid and Joanie, back-pack through the mountains for a relaxing weekend in the wilderness.

       They enter a forest which becomes denser and darker as they progress. Peter(Nick Mc Clelland) and Ingrid (Mary Galeartz) fear that they are lost. The brush moves and something is there. Suddenly a large form rushes forward. A wide machete gleaming in the light falls fast. Craig (James P. Hayden) slips dead to the ground.

       Peter and the others flee screaming into the forest. The rest of the day and terrifying night is spent running and hiding from the maniac murderer (Tom Drury) who is constantly in pursuit."

choice dialogue:

"One by one the campers were found with eyes...and ears ripped out!"

slash with panache?

       Oh well, I can't say I wasn't warned! But all the bad things I heard about this movie just made me want to watch it more- my God will I never learn! Along with THE BURNING (1981), this was one of those titles that stared longingly at me from the shelves of the local video emporium when I were but knee high to grass hopper. "Oh the horror!"- I childishly imagined, the unremitting terror that must be contained in that chunky and forbidden box. Those memories of that top shelf have stayed with me and it was with feelings of nostalgia and slight trepidation that I finally slipped DON'T GO INTO THE WOODS...ALONE! into my VCR. Oh the horror indeed!...

        Like I said- I had been warned. I knew I was in for a 'thriller' of the cheesy variety and in fact I was more than looking forward to a smorgasbord of diary delights. The credits rolled (or should I say came in and out of focus- for this was a dupe of the nth degree), and the music began. And what music!- as the bargain basement bontempi organ belched away a ditty of indescribable blandness my jaw began to descend....It had hit the floor once we were introduced to the 'principle' cast- their ineptness and bratty droning voices were a wonder to behold. I mean where did these people come from- I've seen more emoting in a funeral parlour. They were so bad that on several occasions cast members repeat the same word or phrase, presumably because they thought the mic hadn't picked it up!...The troupe of 'thespians' traipse through the forest whilst one of their number gratingly tells them the rules they will need to survive the big outside- needless to say one of which is "Don't go into the woods...alone.". And equally needless to say is something they do at the earliest given opportunity. In fact the first half of the movie seems to be just footage of them carrying backpacks through the undergrowth (riveting!). The forest itself is full of the kind of white trash that even Jerry Springer would balk at having on his show- fat women huffing up hillsides, nerdy birdwatchers, roller skating disco-bunnies and swinging couples. Most of which meet gruesome ends at the hands (or should I say sharp spike) of a deranged and growling back-woodsman who looks like a cross between Long John Silver and Jeremy Beadle- who announces his presence by shaking the nearest branch and whooping. And if you ever thought the conveyor belt of potential victims in some of the FRIDAY THE 13TH series was perfunctory, you ain't seen anything yet! In this one they are wheeled out (in the case of the guy in the wheelchair inexplicably ,and with great trouble, navigating his way through the undergrowth alone- quite literally!), to become showcases for cheapo gore fx without any attempts whatsoever at characterisation. Amazingly the backpackers don't notice this inept, but admittedly gory, mayhem that surrounds them- and in one monumentously stupid scene don't see a man a his wife being chucked off a cliff whilst they splash about in the river below....Meanwhile the lard arsed sheriff and his deputy decide they should start to investigate some of those disappearances and so starts (or so the makers would have hoped) one of those great comedic police double acts in the tradition of grand ineptness exemplified by the coppers in Wes Craven's LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT.... We get a obligatory camp fire scene where the character's tell scary stories- but they even manage to fuck up that routine scare-fare. Finally they wise up to the fact that some loon is hacking down every dopey tourist in sight- cue much gurning and unconvincing hysterics. Their attempts to escape gives rise to one of the film's funniest moments, where yet another incidental character (a kindly fell walker no less) is mistaken for the killer and subsequently impaled on a bit of log by one of the escapees who apologises profusely to the dying man, shouting "I'm sorry...I'm sorry!" over and over again as if he has just run over his foot with a shopping trolley. They finally manage to reach town, regardless of the evidence of their abundant stupidity- at one point during the night they take a break from being pursued by the killer to relax by a camp fire! The town- a refuge for bad actors where the remaining backpackers should feel well at home, horrified by their story get together a posse of good 'ol boys to go a hunting for the nutter in moss. The sheriff gives some stupid reason as why they can't get a helicopter in- (budget restrictions perhaps?!), and so they all traipse off into the forest. Pursued by the two back packers in search of a friend- proving that their brief stay in civilisation did nothing to restore their intelligence. I won't 'spoil' anymore, but I'm hardly giving away plot- there is none to speak of. Needless to say the ineptitude of the proceedings does not give way to an expertly handled man hunt!

        DON'T GO INTO THE WOODS...ALONE! is an absolute travesty! It does have it's charms- (my God I don't believe I just typed that!) Much of the dialogue is priceless- a doctor saying of one of the escapees to the sheriff: "There's a lot of pressure under that kind of stress and he might...he might become irrational!" The script writer should have won some kind of surrealist award, or been shot- or both! The gore is cheap but plentiful (enough to get it banned in the UK, an accolade it still possess after so many years) and there is always the slightly satisfying feeling that you will (probably) never see anything as awful again. I mean, I thought that other backwoods horror travesty from the same year- NIGHT OF THE DEMON, was inept. But it looks like PSYCHO next to this!

       DON'T GO INTO THE WOODS...ALONE! gains a star just out of sheer perversity. Just because it is so unequivocally awful that it transcends all known limits of cheese and almost becomes an artform separate from film...and logic. And just when you think your senses cannot possibly be violated anymore, the closing song jerks into gear (I was rocking by this point)- it is set to the music of ' The Teddy Bears Picnic' and 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."

       I didn't heed the warnings. But there may still be some hope left for you and your sanity....AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!!- (but if you are anything like me, that's just a (bloodied) red flag to a bull!)

BODYCOUNT 13  bodycount!   female:5 / male:8

       1) Male has arm hacked off and is stabbed to death
       2) Male pushed to his death from a cliff
       3) Female stabbed to death (?)
       4) Male has face mashed into van window
       5) Female burnt to death in van
       6) Female slashed to death- splattering her painting
       7 & 8) Male and Female stabbed to death in sleeping bag
       9) Male impaled through face and then speared to death
     10) Male speared to death
     11) Male impaled on sharpened log (!)
     12) Female hacked and slashed to death
     13) Male hacked to death