‘Everyone has nightmares about the ugliest way to die.’
Don’t Go in the Woods – also known as Don’t Go in the Woods… Alone! – is a 1980 (released 1981) American slasher film directed by James Bryan from a screenplay by Garth Eliassen.
The film was shot on a budget of $20,000 in the summer of 1980 in outdoor locations in Utah in order to save money on lighting. Meanwhile, Kingsley Thurber’s score from Frozen Scream (1975) was recycled.
It is one of the infamous video nasties that was banned in the UK in the moral panic of the 1980s. It was finally re-released uncut, with a BBFC 15 rating (!), in 2007.
As something kills a hysterical woman, and a bird watcher, four friends – Peter, Joanne, Ingrid and Craig – trek through the wilderness. A tourist is thrown over a waterfall – landing near some oblivious frolickers – and his mother is wounded, and dragged away.
The four backpackers set up camp for the night, and elsewhere a pair of honeymooners are attacked in their van and murdered. The next day, the two couples continue their hike, while an artist is stabbed to death, and her young daughter is taken.
Two more campers are butchered, and while off on his own, Peter witnesses a fisherman be murdered by the killer, a spear-wielding wild man adorned in furs and rags. Peter rushes off to warn his friends, who the maniac gets to first, spearing Craig, and sending Joanne fleeing into the woods. Peter finds Ingrid, and after the two stumble upon the wild man’s cabin, they accidentally attack another hiker, thinking he was the savage. The killer finishes off the hiker, and wounds Ingrid, but she and Peter escape, and eventually reach civilisation, and alert the authorities to the backwoods psychopath…
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“Aside from one nasty bit with a bear trap and a sequence toward the end that faintly — and accidentally, believe me — recalls The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in its slow, dread-saturated buildup, director James Bryan’s splatter film is an incoherent mess. An endless parade of victims keeps the fake blood squirting, but the murder sequences are so poorly staged that it’s usually impossible to tell precisely what’s happening. The most frightening thing about this alleged horror film, aside from its bad synthesizer soundtrack, is its pacing. Murder sequences are clumped together throughout the film, leaving a lot of flab in between.” Bryan Pop, DVD Verdict
“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 scriptwriter 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.” Hysteria Lives
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” …a lively, ramshackle horror picture with a devil-may-care approach to story construction, and lots of grisly deaths. The story … may lack originality, but it plays the slasher horror game to the hilt and proved to be Bryan’s most visible and commercially successful picture.” Stephen Thrower, Nightmare USA
” …fat women huffing up hillsides, nerdy birdwatchers, roller-skating disco-bunnies and swinging couples, all accompanied by perhaps the most grating score of all time (by H. Kingsley Thurber). At the gore is plentiful – if extremely hokey.” J.A. Kerswell, Teenage Wasteland: The Slasher Movie Uncut
- Jack McClelland as Peter
- Mary Gail Artz as Ingrid
- James P. Hayden as Craig
- Angie Brown as Joanne
- Ken Carter as Sheriff
- David Barth as Deputy Benson
- Larry Roupe as Store Owner
- Amy Martell as Artist’s Child
- Tom Drury as Maniac
- Laura Trefts as Doctor Maggie
Craig: [tying Joanne in a sleeping bag] “Now I’ve got you, bitch! Let’s hear you say uncle! Say uncle! Say it, bag of bitch! Say it! Say it, bag of bitch! Say it! Say uncle!”
Filo mortal – Argentina
The Forest 2 – Australia (video title)
Perigo na Floresta – Brazil
Le tueur de la forêt – France
Nie chodz do lasu – Poland
Não Vás à Floresta… Sozinha! – Portugal
No vayas al bosque… sola – Spain
Ausflug in das Grauen – West Germany