The Reviewinator: Within the Woods (1978)

withinthewoodsposterLow-budget horror is practically its own genre. With the PG-13 fests Hollywood has been cranking out for the last decade, and seemingly-unending franchises like Saw and Paranormal Activity, it’s painfully obvious that people with way too much money are always trying too hard to make more. And that’s why low-budget horror is such a release from all that: people with very little money breaking the bank (as well as their backs) to get their movies finished, because they truly believe in what they’re making. And one of the most beloved horror franchises (Evil Dead) got its start exactly that way with this 30-minute film.

Simple story: teens go to a cabin in the woods, awaken evil spirits, and must survive the night. Ellen Sandweiss is the protagonist here, while series star Bruce Campbell gets possessed and becomes the villain. If you’ve seen Evil Dead I and II, you’ll notice a lot of similar set pieces here, and they’re surprisingly gripping for such a low-budget production. The chases are intense, the sound effects are startling, the blood and gore are appropriately disgusting; it’s pure horror and pulls no punches.; A true testament to what happens when the filmmakers truly care that their movie turns out as good as it could possibly be.

If you can manage to find a copy, don’t be surprised by the quality. It’s virtually unwatchable at times, but if you’re a fan, it should keep you entertained nonetheless. I would have loved to see this movie in its prime, as there’s a quite a lot of care put into it. And even though it was intended as a “prototype” for a feature film, it still stands on its own surprisingly well. For Evil Dead fans, this one is a must!

4 out of 5

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