Saturday, March 7, 2015

Don't Go In The Woods (Blu-ray/DVD Vinegar Syndrome) - Warning: This is a Great Friggin Blu-ray

Don’t Go In The Woods is a Video Nasty. It is not a pretty looking movie with splendid gore that rivets and twists your gulliver. Don’t Go In The Woods is a near roadmap of every forest/wilderness based slasher film of the 1980’s (except for maybe the biggies like Friday the 13th and The Burning ironically). Vinegar Syndrome has released this classic on Blu-ray, and there’s one thing about it that might drive some of you crazy, it’s beat up pretty bad… in the best way possible. Perhaps the most important thing to note about that aspect of the release is that it is NOT a flaw to have an print that feels grindy. It's a blessing when we are allowed to enjoy a movie without it being obliterated by "forward thinking" restorers.

This isn’t some half-assed effort by an uncaring company that seeks to restore and preserve film. The most important thing to realize about this Don’t Go In The Woods release is that it looks beautiful in all ways horror fans care about. It’s as clear and pristine as this film can be given the condition of the original source material. Vinegar Syndrome understands how not to destroy the movies we love. You won’t notice pasty, painted pixels courtesy of the DNR department and the film is being released to look as accurate as the original film print. I have seen Don’t Go In the Woods before, and I can assure you that the VHS copy and previous releases look nothing like this. Where distributors and restorers like Vinegar Syndrome shine is in releases that need the most care. Sure, the recent Blu-ray release of Jaws by Universal looks great… but it’s like Ghandi said, “ you can judge a society by how they treat their weakest members”. What will make you happy is that this release truly embodies the Vinegar Syndrome principle of restoration and preserving the look and feel of a movie over perfection and potentially destroying a movie by over-correction. I want this to foreshadow Last House on Dead-End Street coming soon from VS. That movie will have similar challenges to be sure.

The movie itself, the plot… the story…well, that's just what you think it is. A group of kids goes into the woods, and are attacked by a madman. Of note about the madman (because aside from skin, that’s what you want to know about): the madman seems to be wearing some kind of hippie beads or rosary on this head. He kind of looks like Hillbilly Jim from professional wrestling; this of course is in contrast to his training as a professional actor which you can hear about in the interview included in the bonus features.  He grunts. He attacks. He’s like a video game bad guy with as few dimensions as an NES game, but for some reason it works. There’s a comedic element and then there’s that certain power that carries through any backwoods horror flick: this is how a homicidal maniac in the wilderness looks. You can almost believe it. If you allow yourself that luxury, then you’ll actually be a little eeked by this picture. I imagine most of you won’t be eeked and will enjoy the camp, laughter appeal of this picture. Pay particular attention to the bumpy thumpy hammered out edgy soundscape parading around as a score. I adore it probably because it sounds quite a bit like I dance... jerky. Like an nonrhythmic man doing the robot.

I love the performances we get out of some very young actors (most of whom are interviewed in the bonus material). You can tell that despite some inexperience or perhaps with source material being somewhat flawed, they make the best of it. The gore is laughable by today’s standard or even by early 80's standards. I fear that a modern audience won’t understand why the splatter is effective or how it could have been “nasty” enough for the UK to send it to nastyland. In fact in my review of the entire 72 nasties, I didn’t understand how this one even made the grade. It shouldn’t be on the radar of a governing body for a conservative country. It’s success is a mystery to me from a financial standpoint. How does a movie like Don’t Go In The Woods even earn a censorship badge of distinction? It’s one of those things where it’s fame derives from that “devil’s mark” from Whitehouse and co. I suppose the film could even be said to owe Thatcher a debt of gratitude. I won’t go that far, but I’m glad that Don’t Go In The Woods made the nasty list to make me aware of it. The first time I watched this flick during my nasty challenge, I thought I had picked up the wrong movie.

The extra package for this Blu-ray is substantial including a comprehensive sitdown with cast and crew including interviews with just about everyone, director commentary, commentary with the director, actor Mary Gails Arts (the lead) and others as well as a commentary with The Hysteria Continues! As you may remember from my review of Night Train To Terror, The Hysteria Continues commentary was by far one of my favorite aspect of the release as it is with this release. Well done! There’s an autograph signing party featurette, TV promo compilation, still gallery, trailer, art and press gallery as well as a script gallery! In short… this thing’s got everything! The release is DVD and Blu-ray, preserves the traditional cover art beautifully which for this particular release is of the utmost importance. I can’t tell you how enticing this cover art is. Tell me that adding the “…alone!” in lowercase letters in bloody, scratch isn’t perfect? “Everyone ahs nightmares about the ugliest ways to die”… that’s right up there with the Tourist Trap tag line, “Every year young people disappear”. Of course the obligatory mondo-esque warning, “Warning: This motion picture depicts scenes of graphic violence” sells the movie completely.

80’s slasher fans. Video Nasty boys and girls. Grindhouse-y gurus. Indie horror enthusiasts of yesterday AND today… get on this release from Vinegar Syndrome.

You can order it now.

From Vinegar Syndrome:

In director James Bryan’s 1981 cult classic, a group of obnoxious campers venture into the wilderness for what they assume will be a fun filled weekend. Unknown to them, a bloodthirsty maniac is hiding in the woods, watching their every move, and violently killing them, one by one, every chance he gets… Filled with low-fi gore effects and black humor, DON’T GO IN THE WOODS remains one of the quintessential regional slasher films of the early 80s, and is coming to Blu-ray for the very first time, newly restored in 2K from the 35mm Interpositive and loaded with extras.

Features Include:

+ BD/DVD Combo Pack | Region Free | 1.66:1 OAR | DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
+ Commentary w/ Director
+ Commentary w/ Director, Mary Gail Arts (Lead Actress) & others
+ Commentary w/ The Hysteria Continues!
+ Cast & Crew Featurette (60m)
+ Autograph Signing Party Featurette (30m)
+ TV Promo Compilation (15m)
+ Theatrical Trailer
+ Production Still Gallery
+ Press & Art Gallery
+ Script Gallery

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