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Four young campers, Craig, Peter, Ingrid and Joanie, back-pack through the mountains for a relaxing weekend in the wilderness. They are out camping in broad daylight, while someone else is killing tourists in the woods. Craig warns the others not to go into the woods alone. The hillsides are crawling with fat women huffing up hillsides, nerdy bird-watchers, and young couples. Most of whom meet gruesome ends at the hands of a deranged and growling back-woodsman with a sharp spike - who announces his presence by shaking the nearest branch and whooping. The 'happy' campers don't see a man and his wife being chucked off a cliff whilst they splash about in the river below. They enter a forest which becomes denser and darker as they progress. Peter and Ingrid fear that they are lost. Something large suddenly comes lunging forward with a gleaming machete. Craig slips dead to the ground as the machete cuts him up. Peter and the others flee screaming into the forest. The rest of the day and ... Written by
Sujit R. Varma
...but that's like saying being kicked in the groin isn't as bad as being punched in the throat. They both hurt like crazy, it's just that one probably isn't as painful as the other. DON'T GO IN THE WOODS appears to be the retarded, illegitimate offspring of James C.Wasson's quietly unsettling NIGHT OF THE DEMON and the underrated JUST BEFORE DAWN. It's the simple story of a group of happy campers (including a bunch of whiny teens, a birdwatcher who looks like an old silent movie actor, a cripple who looks like Franklin from THE Texas CHAINSAW MASSACRE, a female artist and her baby daughter, two bone-chillingly unattractive newlyweds and...you get the idea) whose weekend in the Utah wilderness is rudely interrupted by a bloodthirsty maniac who looks and sounds like Long John Silver gone native and kills people for kicks. And that's it. There's no real plot, not a scrap of characterization, no structure, no dynamic, in fact nothing to compel or even mildly interest the viewer, just endless scenes of these hapless non-actors wandering through the forest and getting killed in various unlikely ways, with blood-drenched murder scenes that resemble Monty Python's memorable spoof of Sam Peckinpah, only done on a smaller budget. As a substitute for any on-screen suspense or drama, the belching, clanking, burbling synthesizer score by H.Kingsley Thurber (love that name!) plays throughout the entire film with no let-up. I'm not joking, it doesn't stop until the end credits when we get to hear him sing an inane ditty about the murderer to the tune of 'The Teddy Bear's Picnic'! Most of the dialogue seems to have been endlessly redubbed and rearranged, which gives the proceedings a surreal, ethereal feel, and the direction and editing are not so much undisciplined as wilfully perverse - it's as if Bryan tore up the entry-level director's handbook on day one, set out to break all the rules and succeeded unequivocally. It would be churlish to point out that the budget was obviously miniscule, since wonders can be worked for a handful of change - see LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, for example - but the budget for this Z-grade splatterfest would appear to have come from the pockets of sleeping gutterbums. As a further point of interest, this film remains banned in the UK, though I can't imagine any sensible distributor paying the censors to watch this nonsense in order to receive an 18 certificate. It's a shame the old X-rating was phased out, because it would suit this film perfectly - it's X-crement from start to finish.
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