Don’t go into this film…sober!

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One of the first things you may notice while watching the DVD transfer of “Don’t Go In the Woods … Alone!” is the scratches and abrasions that mark the opening sequence.

Perhaps you may think it’s a shoddy restoration job, but a little digging around the disc and you’ll find that this 1980 ultra-cheap slasher (which gained infamy for being labelled one of the UK’s first “video nasties”) was shot on “short ends” and expired film stock. “Shot ends” is industry-speak for cinematic afterbirth – yards of unused film leftover after footage is shot for unquestionably more competent films.

It is rather fitting that this cinematic detritus is used to shoot DGITW…A!, an unquestionable aberration and compilation of film school no-nos that has somehow garnered a sizeable vult following since its release almost three decades ago.

Filmed in must be the most popular hiking area of all the mountains in Utah, an endless procession of pinheads wander the titular woods (not all of them …Alone!, mind you) and are systematically hacked apart by a disgruntled maniac, colorfully named “Maniac” in the credits. For its seemingly remote setting, it seems to be rather accessible to even the most novice of outdoorsmen, considering some of the victims include a fey ornithologist (or orn-a-thologist as the rotund town sheriff refers to him), an obese muu-muu-draped nag, a short-shorts-sporting rollerskater (on a gravel road, no less) and a man in a wheelchair.

While any of these character are infinitely more interesting in their seconds of screen time, we are burdened with the blandest bunch of campers to ever strap on a backpack – Peter (Jack McClellend), Ingrid (Mary Gail Artz), Craig (James P. Hayden) and Joanie (Angie Brown). If their expressionless acting does not immediately jar you, their incredibly stagey voice-over woek certainly will. Despite the fact that they are hiking through such high-altitude climes, their voices sounds as though they delivered their lines from the comforts of their couches.

Hayden, as Craig, is particularly distinguishable… as he read his lines… as though there was… a dramatic pause needed… between every third or fourth… word in the script (presuming their even was a script).

It’s hard to fathom the fervent following this film garnered since its release. Director James Bryan confesses that it’s supposed to by somewhat comedic, but the humor is found for all the wrong reasons. Gags are relegated to the suggestively named characters (“Dick” and “Cherry,” are two incredibly homely newlyweds that face Maniac’s wrath), and the exaggerated mannerisms of the victims-to-be ( see the muu-muu lady listed above).

The real laughs come from the astounding ineptitude on almost every level. From the Casio-keyboard created synthesizer sound track (which provides the films only jolts), to the illogical slaying setups (a van that is pushed down a mountainside immediately bursts into flames from the inside, as though it was carting a cargo of propane).

Most laughable is the film’s antagonist, played by Tom Drury), a cross between Buddy Hackett and the Bridgekeeper from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Sporting various pelts and beads that cover his sizeable girth, Maniac must at least be given credit for setting up shop where such a high volume of inept victims would traverse, as his body does not appear to be built for travelling too far for fresh meat.

With no rhyme, reason or rhythm it goes. It does boast a surprisingly high body count (14 before the first hour), bu they are so awkwardly staged, lit and executed that there is little to satiate gore hounds.

It’s also surprisingly chaste for a slasher flick of that era. In a time where bare boobies were a staple of the genre, a wet T-shirt is as nasty as it gets for fans of the flesh, which is particularly ironic considering the director’s porn past.

I have revisited many a slasher flick fondly remembered from my youth ( “Sigh. Oh, Jason. I remember when you were but a young, lake-dwelling mongoloid child!”), and I vaguely recall the infamy “DGITW…A!” garnered back in the day. But while some of the horror flicks of yesteryear still carry with it random thrills and inventive kills, “DGITW…A!” carries only the stench of its too-numerous rotting corpses left strewn across its tree-lined mountainside.

~ by usesoapfilm on February 22, 2008.

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