Don’t Go in the Woods Alone (1981) Blu-ray review

dontDon’t Go in the Woods Alone (1981) Blu-ray review

Director – James Bryan
Starring – Tom Drury, Jack McClelland, David Barth, Mary Gail Artz

Run Time – 82 minutes
Blu-ray Label – 88 Films


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. – 88 Films

A woeful movie that is no doubt only remembered for reasons that aren’t of its own doing (more on this later in the review), Don’t Go In The Woods is an ultra low budget affair that is an example of low cost film making being a let down.

Horror often sees small budget features being released all the time, although some of them actually manage to create something entertaining. The lack of financial resources forces the director to be savvy with what is available. A classic example of this is the original Evil Dead: Sam Raimi and co. producing an undoubted classic by capitalising on what little capital they raised.

woods1Don’t Go in the Wood is the flipside of this predicament. It appears those involved don’t care that they should be resourceful or make the best of a tricky situation. The film seems to creep towards parody the tone is that frivolous although some have claimed this is the film being tongue-in-cheek. It’s a claim that doesn’t hold up when some of the very worst examples of it are examined in depth.

A prime example of the ‘very worst’ is the dubbing. It is appalling and at times ludicrous that a dub job as bad as this was OK’d by the director as suitable (or more likely “That’ll do.”) to be used on his movie. The voices often don’t match the lip movements of the actors and the way the actor’s actually say their dubbed lines are so over the top that it drags the movie further down the quality scale.

It is baffling why this film ever made it onto the DDP list of banned videos, Don’t Go in the Woods is tame compared to other similar titles and the effects are pathetic. The Video Nasties moral panic/scandal/public manipulation by the press of the mid eighties in the UK saw numerous videos being deemed too offensive or disturbing for the general public. Some were hyper realistic in the use of gore and imagery, disturbing curtain twitchers nationwide as a result.

The 1984 Video Recordings Act was passed in parliament due to this (it should be mentioned that MP’s took advantage of the scandal too, to look like moral saviours) and dozens of movies were heavily censored or outright banned. In the decades since the frivolous outcry has died down many of the titles have finally been re-released (as well as being uncut).

A lot of these films have not aged well and would have otherwise been lost in the sands of time if it were not for the label of being a ‘nasty’. It acted as a badge of (dis)honour. Don’t Go in the Woods is one such feature. It is safe to say it would have been long forgotten if not for the fact it had once been banned.

Thankfully 88 Films have just announced they are to release a REAL nasty: Anthropophagus.

woods2Special features.

The release contains two commentaries plus a collections of trailers, but the main extras are…

The Making of…. – Nearly an hour long, this is somewhat entertaining. Director James Bryan catches up with those involved in his movie and even talks to some of its super fans (most notably Deron Miller of cKy, a rock band that are known for their love of dreadful horror flicks). The picture and sound quality of the interview footage is sub-par. At least some of the actors talk about Don’t Go in the Woods for what it is.

Talk Show Appearances – 15 minutes long, this is a interesting little curio of an extra. The star and director of the movie appear on various Utah based TV stations to promote the feature. The fashions and TV sets on display reek of cheesy eighties. Tom Drury comes across as a likeable man who is entertaining.

Devoid of merit, not even in a perverse way, this is a movie that fails on multiple levels.

1 out of 10.

James Simpson (@JSimpsonCritic)

You can purchase Don’t Go In The Woods Alone from Amazon- CLICK HERE

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James Simpson

About James Simpson

A freelance writer and lover of movies, James is a long term contributor to UK Horror Scene. He has a regular feature on UKHS, World of Horror, as well as reviewing and interviewing when he can. He also writes for Gore Splattered Corner and Space Monsters Magazine. He has previously written for Scream Magazine and Zombie Hamster. Twitter: @JSimpsonWriter