A dopey early slasher that will look very familiar with its formula of young hikers, woods, and a machete-wielding maniac killer.
A group of people go camping in the woods and find they are stalked by a crazed mountain man with extremely unique methods of killing them. Let’s dig into 1981’s DON’T GO IN THE WOODS, directed by James Bryan!
As I See It
There is a lack of solemnity that makes the film more fun than it deserves to be.
The slasher sub genre as a whole hardly ever gets it right. It’s either too slapstick or too over the top violent and mean spirited. With the facilities available to a low budget, quick production like this one, I think the producers knew the gore (even if it’s cheesy) had to be offset by a bit of absurdity and spellbinding stupidity.
Some of the kills seem to have even inspired future kills in the Friday the 13th franchise. The killer even wields a large machete.
This didn’t do for the woods what Jaws did for the water, but it’s an undeniable part of the coed camping killer zeitgeist.
Completists with a specific hard on for slashers will want to add this one to their playlist.
Mary Gail Artz (Ingrid) only acted in this one film but went on to become a successful casting director, working on such award winning films as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and I Am Sam as well as the retread Halloween II.
Most of the rest of the cast hold this film as their lone credit.
Of Gratuitous Nature
A slasher film set in the woods is bound to have multiple gratuitous occurrences.
The maniac killer looks as if Grizzly Adams fell into a swamp and damn is he creative with his kills.
Ripe for a Remake
The list of films whose plot summary involves some young folks going into the woods and being stalked by a maniac they didn’t know was out there would probably fill the word count quota for this column.
In 2010 actor Vincent D’Onofrio wrote and directed Don’t Go in the Woods about a group of musicians venturing into the woods and shot it in Woodstock, New York. It has no connection besides possibly a spiritual one and a shared titled to this film.
Where to Watch
Vinegar Syndrome released it on Blu-Ray with a fresh 2K scan from the 35mm inter-positive. Code Red put out the DVD in 2006 and 88 Films released the UK Blu-Ray. You can stream it on Tubi.