Don't Go in the Woods (1980)

I have a quest. I must see all the horror movies that begin with "Don't..." What can I say, I like being told what not to do. Don't Go in the Woods. Don't Go in the House. Don't Look Now. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. Is there anything I can do, horror movies?

A bunch of people ignore the helpful advice the movie has given them, and they go into the woods. Then, a lot of them are savagely murdered by a maniac. End credits. Unlike Memorial Valley Massacre, the characters in this movie are not outrageous personifications of all that is awful about mankind. This is both a blessing and a curse. Since they aren't particularly awful, you feel bad about them getting killed which I guess is the point of the horror film. On the other hand, watching nasty people getting killed by maniacs is so fun. So while Don't Go in the Woods is definitely creepier than Memorial Valley Massacre, I can barely remember any of the characters since they are so bland and normal. Some characters are introduced solely to have them murdered seconds later. It is madness.

The murders are brutal and actually pretty scary. There is one scene with a girl trapped in a sleeping bag hanging from a tree and she just has this tiny hole in the sleeping bag through which she can see and then the maniac shows up to attack! It's filmed very well. There is also an awesome trap out of nowhere that gets sprung and I was cheering.

There are quite a few things that set Don't Go in the Woods apart from other slashers. First of all is the soundtrack. It's really effective and creepy and is kind reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange (really). The music is all synthesizer stuff but goes well with the dreamlike atmosphere of the movie.

That's the second interesting thing about this movie. It's so dreamlike and even for a slasher it has so little story. Totally unrelated things just happen to a bunch of people and yeah there are some police around and of course we've got a fat sheriff but the police do absolutely nothing. They don't even try! They just show up in one scene, play some pinball at the bar, and you don't see them until the end of the movie when everything has been already taken care of.

Finally, the nature photography in this film is wonderful. I couldn't get enough of it. If you check out the director online, it turns out he did some work for National Geographic, and it shows.

Unfortunately, while the first forty minutes of this movie are amazing, you get a dry spell for another half an hour and that thirty-minute dry part is really boring. It's definitely worth fighting to stay awake though, because it picks up again during that last ten minutes. Besides what else have you got going on in your life?

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