I’ve seen so many bad movies in my life that I start to believe that nothing can surprise me any more, but every now and then, I’m proven wrong. Such was the case when I recently watched the infamous 1981 slasher film, Don’t Go in the Woods. Sure, bad slasher flicks were a dime a dozen during that time period, but Don’t Go in the Woods really goes the extra mile when it comes to pure filmmaking incompetence. Directed by exploitation filmmaker James Bryan, Don’t Go in the Woods is so jaw-droppingly inept that you almost wonder if it was intended as a parody of bad slasher flicks. It tells the standard story of four campers being stalked through the woods by an insane maniac, and the film looks so cheap that I wonder if they funded the production by returning old beer cans they found by the side of the road. Don’t Go in the Woods has one of the highest body counts I’ve ever seen in a slasher flick, but that’s because the film doesn’t care about little things like characterization. It will simply introduce new characters into the plot every few minutes for the express purpose of killing them off and won’t even bother to explain who they are! In this clip, a random couple making out in a van in the woods are murdered and, even if you’re completely sober, you’ll probably feel like you’re under the influence of mind-altering substances while watching this scene. I think Don’t Go in the Woods can be summed up perfectly by the moment where the woman has trouble closing the van doors and they just leave that take in the finished film!
As you probably noticed from that clip, the direction, editing and acting in this film are absolutely atrocious. All of the actors’ dialogue is ADR and is done so poorly that it sometimes doesn’t even match their lips properly. The film contains plenty of hilariously stupid moments, such as when the hero accidentally impales some random hiker and cries out “I’M SORRY! I’M SORRY!”, and for completely inexplicable reasons, one of the killer’s victims in the woods is a guy in a wheelchair! However, as unwatchable as Don’t Go in the Woods is, it does provide plenty of laughs, so I recommend that hardcore horror fans watch it at least once. However, even though it runs only 82 minutes, the film is still pretty tough going at times, so it may require multiple viewings to get through the whole thing. The most excruciating aspect of Don’t Go in the Woods is probably its musical score, which sounds like someone just banging on a synthesizer repeatedly. I can’t confirm this, but I believe this was the film’s composer.