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Don't Go In The Woods ... Alone! (1981) - Blu-ray Review

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Don't Go in the Woods... Alone! - Blu-ray Review

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3 stars

Don’t Go In The Woods … Alone!, a cult horror film from 1981, is the attention-grabbing title that always screamed at me to watch when I used to frequent the VHS rental store tucked inside a row of seedy businesses in Vista, California. The title said it all. Oh, yes, I will watch this. I must. Low-budget. Plenty of cheesy gore. Inane acting. Badly synched. Badly recorded. But, damn, that title. Don’t Go In The Woods is indeed a bad film when compared with other blockbusters and yet this little horror gem isn’t without merit. To its credit, people are still talking about it.

Shocking to the final moment, James Bryan’s film manages to rise above the obnoxious campers who venture into one spear-wielding wild man’s wild backyard. Adorned in furs and rags, the maniac (played by Tom Drury) hacks away at innocent birdwatchers, frolicking couples, scenic painters, and anyone else unlucky (or dumb) enough to go seeking this wilderness. The film is a good example of why everyone should simply stay indoors. Forget the scenery. People out here are mad as hell. Co-starring Jack Mc Clelland, Mary Gail Artz, James P. Hayden, Angie Brown, and Ken Carter, Don’t Go In The Woods might be the surrealist (by accident and not design) thing I ever stumbled upon in the middle years of the VHS platform.

This regional slasher film is priceless. Let me be specific on that point. It’s the Garth Eliassen’s script – with lines like this one (when a doctor to a sheriff says): "There's a lot of pressure under that kind of stress and he might...he might become irrational!" – that does most of the killing. Yeah. It’s awful but oh so much fun on its way to the next murder. And, man, is there ever a lot of brutality. People get impaled on a sharp log, roasted in a van, killed in front of a canvas, lots (and lots) of hacking to death, lots (and lots) of face smashes, lots (and lots) of knives straight into stomachs, and – in order to make sure you were paying attention – a forgotten child (one of the victim’s own) in the wilderness closes the film as she plays with a hatchet. If that doesn’t cement in your memory then nothing will.

And I guess that’s why I revisit the film from time to time. Hell, I guess that’s why it is currently available (for the first time) on blu-ray in newly restored 2k gloss from the original 35mm interpositive. The film – in spite of itself – works. I’ve seen a lot of bad films and, yes, this can be counted as one of them but, damn it, the black humor and low-fi gore effects makes this one worth revisiting every couple of years. It’s quote worthy (as evidenced above) and the acting is hysterically awful. And still I recommend it.

Some films have to be seen to be believed. Don’t Go In The Woods … Alone! is one of those films. You too can sing the lyrics to the closing song, “Don't go into the woods tonight, you probably will be thrilled. Don't go into the woods tonight, you probably will be killed” as you laugh yourself into a good old buzz.

Don't Go in teh Woods... Alone! - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
82 mins
Director
: James Bryan
Writer: Garth Eliassen
Cast:
Jack McClelland, Mary Gail Artz, James P. Hayden
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
Everyone has nightmares about the ugliest way to die..
Memorable Movie Quote: "Now I've got you, bitch! Let's hear you say uncle! Say uncle! Say it, bag of bitch! Say it!"
Distributor:
Seymour Borde & Associates
Official Site:
Release Date:
No theatrical release
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
March 10, 2015
Synopsis: Four young campers, Craig, Peter, Ingrid and Joanie, back-pack through the mountains for a relaxing weekend in the wilderness.

Don't Go in the Woods... Alone! - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - March 10, 2015
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: None
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); DVD copy
Region Encoding: A

Released by Vinegar Syndrome, the box indicates that this full frame transfer from the original negative has been personally supervised by the director, so one must assume it's the correct ratio. The 1080p transfer is an encouragingly filmic viewing experience, with heavy grain and a tasteful refreshing of colors, delivering deep red bloodshed and natural greens. Black levels are decent. It's still full of scratches and some iffy color – which may very well come from the original source. Still, that's part, I guess, of the ever-so-slight charm of watching Don't Go In The Woods...Alone! It looks as bad as it did when I originally saw it on VHS. The Dolby Digital mono soundtrack is adequate for the poorly post-production looped-in dialogue.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • You get three commentaries. Yes, three commentaries for this drive-in picture show. The first with director Bryan, and the second with Bryan, Devron Miller of CKY, and star Mary Gail Artz. The director-only commentary is actually a fairly interesting look at the trials and tribulations of putting on a low-budget horror film. The second commentary is a much more raucous one, but not nearly as insightful and the third commentary features The Hysteria Continues.  Check 'em out.

Special Features:

There's a startling amount of extras for such a marginal film, which - if you are Horror Hound - makes it worth owning. There's a one hour featurette that gives us a current glimpse of most of the actors and crew that worked on the film. Next up, there's some vintage video of interviews Bryan and Tom Drury did for local Salt Lake TV programs, pushing the film. There's a section featuring posters and stills from the film, and finally, a reconstructed trailer for the film and the entire glorified screenplay to read and memorize.

  • Featurette (57 min)
  • T.V. Promotion Compilation (14 min)
  • Autograph Signing Party (30 min)
  • Production Stills (64 images)
  • Publicity Art (44 pieces of flair)
  • Screenplay (the entire script)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1 min)

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