Blu-ray review: Don’t Go Into the Woods… Alone!

Starring: Jack McClelland, Mary Gail Artz

Director: James Bryan

don't-go-into-the-woods 1And while we’re listing “don’ts”, you might want to think twice before putting this micro budget indie slasher from 1981 at the top of your Blu-ray wish-list. Somewhere in the forests of Utah, a mud-daubed, fur-clad weirdo goes around lopping bits off assorted loudly dressed city folk including a bird-watcher, an amateur wildlife photographer and a bunch of campers. Can our hero in the pink fluorescent T-shirt save the day with his sharpened stick?

With a baddie who can only say “argh!” and a girl who does nothing but squeal “Peter!”, you can’t help feeling a bit more thought could have been put into the script, but then maybe it’s just as well, as the dialogue is all awkwardly post-dubbed (presumably they shot without sound to save money). The effect is to make the performances seem even flatter than they are. Meanwhile, story development isn’t helped by jerky, spasmodic editing which seems to have been the result of the film having to be cobbled together from not quite enough footage. But arguably, the very fact that this movie was made in such penny-pinched circumstances gives it an endearing underdog quality, and if you do feel an urgent desire to see it, then this release from 88 Films serves it up in style. 5/10

TRANSFER Probably the best thing about the film is its location cinematography, nimbly shot with a lightweight camera. Bar a tiny bit of print damage this comes up very sharp and clean on Blu, with some lush acid greens – if you like looking at trees in high-def, this is the film for you – and the scene inside the hippy couple’s camper van also looks very pretty. Given what a shoe-string operation this film was, the transfer is amazing. 8/10

EXTRAS There’s a long, detailed, 53-min “making of” in which the director catches up with his cast 20 years on. Shot in 4:3 ratio on home video, it’s nonetheless very enjoyable if only because it’s fascinating to find out what actors get up to when they stop acting (in this case, one of them has written an opera). In addition, we also get some old TV interviews. 7/10

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