Tuesday, October 5, 2021

root it oot.

Was out for a walk in the woods yesterday when I realized I'd not done it for ages.

No idea if this film has owt to do with that tho'.

Maybe this years 31 Days of Horror will turn into 31 days of therapy.

Fuck knows I need it.

The Forest (1982).
Dir: Donald M. Jones.
Cast: Dean Russell, Gary Kent, Tomi Barrett, John Batis, Ann Wilkinson, Jeanette Kelly, Corky Pigeon, Becki Burke, Tony Gee, Stafford Morgan, Marilyn Anderson Jean Clark and Donald M. Jones.

'If you go down to the woods today... You might never get out alive.'

Somewhere in the American great outdoors an unnamed couple of the type you only get in early 80s horror movies that have only relatives and neighbours to cast from - you know the types, long, horse like faced women with Farrah flicks and middle-aged guys with stud beards grey chest hair poking thru' an open necked stonewashed shirt a size too small for him - are having fun hiking thru' the woods whilst attempting to chat in a non-stilted manner as an instantly forgettable MoR rock track plays in the background.

Everything is going smoothly, well as smoothly as two non-actors trying to recite dialogue whilst not slipping down muddy banks can go, until that is the lady (Anderson whose post Forest career peaked with an appearance as a Receptionist in a 1983 episode of Dynasty*) gets a feeling of impending dread and a notion of them being watched from the trees.

Her husband (Morgan, best known for his spot on portrayal as an engineer in Die Hard 2: Die Harder), being that kind of guy, poo-poos the idea but in order to placate his missis (in the hope of some tent based todger tickling later) allows her to walk ahead of him so she'll feel less threatened.

No me neither.

"I'm sorry, I have my woman's period."

We don't have to much time to worry about such trivialities tho' as the pair have soon been dispatched by an unseen assailant with a big knife as an even more forgettable MoR track with lyrics about spooky forests blurts out over the credits.

Which I have to admit feature one of THE best home made fonts of all time.

And here it is:


Anyway we're soon with the plot good and proper where best buds - handsome hunk Steve (mustached macho man and council estate Tom Selleck, Russell) and the ferret like Charlie (Batis who I think went into Christian-based arts as far as I remember, I'd check but to be honest I can't be arsed) are busy planning a boys weekend away camping in the woods much to their girlfriends - Teddi (Poundshop Cheryl Ladd, Wilkinson - and the thin lipped Sharon (Ex stunt person Barrett) - chagrin.

It seems that the laydees are a wee bit pissed off at the fellas constant digs at women's lib and the like so the pair decide to play them at their own game and go camping by themselves.

Or is it with the guys?

It's kinda confusing if I'm honest.

Anyway the next morn the girls drive off toward the forest but as they chat it becomes increasingly apparent that neither of them have any idea about camping and were only saying they did in order to come across as equal to the men.

Because feminism.

Or a glib generalization of what feminism is according to the (male) director obviously.

Meanwhile the boys are running late due in part to the car breaking down but mainly because it took Steve and hour and a half to fit into his crotch revealing denims so by the time they arrive at the campsite the girls have already set off into the woods, failed to put up a tent, broken a nail and been visited by two mysterious kids and a woman.

Oh and been attacked by a portly tramp named John (Kent, stuntperson and hubbie of Barrett) who murders Teddi before carrying her off to his cave to eat.

Which is nice.

Sharon, in case you're interested escaped by jumping off a (small) cliff into a lake by the way.

Which is probably why they cast a stunt type person.

"To me!" "To you!"

Anyway as night (and the rain) continues to fall Steve and Charlie are still frantically searching for their lady friends but decide that because it's so wet to hide out in a cave till morning and it's here that they too come across (but not in a sexual way, well not yet) the weirdy beardy John who's just finished cooking Teddi and offers the pair a nibble, proclaiming that it's actually a deer.

As the trio tuck in, John begins to tell his tragic tale of woe and how he came to be living in a cave in the woods stinking of piss, you see it seems that a few years back when he worked as a traveling rubber nipples salesman, his - nameless because this film has a really healthy view of women - dear wife (Kelly in her only film role - surprise) spent her days shagging anyone who passed by the house.

Repair men, post men, the paperboy - you name it she let them put it in her which wasn't until one day John came home early to find her in bed with the refrigerator repairman who, bizarrely enough and after an uncomfortable scene reminisce of when my mum got caught with the Jehovah's Witness in the conservatory by my uncle Peter actually pulls on his trousers and does indeed proceed to fix the fridge.

That's your mum that is.


This wanton display of multitasking masculinity sends John over the edge and after beating his wife to death with a table lamp chases the fridge guy around the garden brandishing a variety of sharp edged gardening tools (and a bicycle) before gutting him on a lathe as his children - John Jr. (Pigeon who scarily went on to have a huge career and is best known for playing Freddy Lippincottleman in the hit teevee sitcom Silver Spoons as well as drumming with top pop combos MXPX and Reel Big Fish) and Jennifer (Burke, who may now be working as a customer Account Manager at Aaron’s Sales and Lease Corporation in Texas) look on in apathy.

From there on in he's been holed up in a cave with only his baseball cap and by now very stiff pants to his name.


And on that note the boys unpack their sleeping bags and quickly fall asleep.

Which is what I wanted to do at this point thanks to the films 'leisurely' pace.

Less Grizzly Adams more slightly peeved Pete.

As morning dawns the pair wake to the sight of John standing over then licking his lips as he gently cradles his man package so making their excuses Steve and Charlie quickly pack up and head of to find the ladies soon finding their destroyed campsite and discarded belongings.

Because lets be honest, it's quite a short film.

"Oh Vic...I've fallen!"

Deciding that something terrible must have happened to cause the girls to leave their make up bags behind the pair split up to continue their search.

Meanwhile down on the riverbank Sharon is busy finding out more about the plot from the pair of spooky kids she met earlier, who it transpires are ghosts.

Fair enough.

It seems that getting bored with living in a cave with their deranged dad and living solely on wild berries and hikers  the pair killed themselves but are now trapped in limbo being chased by the ghost of their mother.

And this, coupled with marrying a whore caused John to turn cannibal.

No, really.

Man murders folk?

Blame a woman.

Or if that doesn't work blame his kids.

"Is it giro day?"

Realizing that the film is almost over the director decides to add a wee bit of excitement so to this end Steve falls down a hill and hurts his leg whilst Charlie stumbles around getting steadily sweatier and more simpering as he goes.

Just when all thought of absolutely anything entertaining happening is forever destroyed who should pop out from behind a tree but the ghost of the dead wife   who - quite politely for a dead slapper I reckon - asks him where her children are.

But as he goes to answer John too jumps out the bushes and attempts to stick his chopper in Charlie, causing ghost mum to vanish and our hero to experience a wee bit of chafing round the thigh area.

As the pair (slow) fight to the death John explains that he's not really a mentalist and only kills campers during the winter when it's too difficult to get to Asda to buy pork, which is OK then I guess.

And with that he drowns poor Charlie in the river.

Which given the state of the film so far is a mercy killing.

Dollar - The Pikey Years.

As John attempts to carry Charlie's body back to his man cave who should arrive but Sharon who, being a girl is quickly is overpowered by John (tho' it may have more to do with his onion breath than his strength) but just as he lunges in for the kill his ghostly weans turn up and beg him to let Sharon live.

And with that he lets her escape.

Will Sharon find Steve or will John go a bit mad again at the thought of lunching out on her tender thighs?

Will anything happen in the scant running time remaining to make watching this anything other than an utter waste of time?

Who knows/cares.

Not director/writer/tea boy Don Jones that's for sure.

From the man behind The Love Butcher, Sweater Girls and Schoolgirls In Chains (oh and who also did the sound on Switchblade Sisters and The Swinging Cheerleaders) comes probably one of THE most incoherently plotted, woodenly acted and crappily directed movies if not ever then definitely of the 80s.

But saying that at least it's in focus and does feature David Somerville 'singing' the fantastically cringe inducing "The Dark Side of The Forest" (with lyrics by Stan Fidel who wrote "Best of Friends" for Disney's The Fox And The Hound fact fans) over the credits so you win some, you lose some I guess.

But if you fancy 80 odd minutes of barely bargain basement gore effects, ghostly kids with haircuts that'd make even Jimmy Savile think twice, bizarro voice overs, a woman who looks like your auntie whoring it up on a camp bed and what seems like hours of footage of two guys arguing in/about traffic then The Woods may just be the film for you.

But I doubt it somehow.


It's almost like Jones is purposely trying to scupper any chance the film has to shine, whether it be the almost DOA pacing, aimless wide shots of trees or just the entire nonsensical nature of the plot, at every turn just when you think something interesting might happen the film, like some drunken bloke stumbling home from the pub with a greasy kebab in hand,  just fumbles and staggers across the road before dropping meat onto its shoes and collapsing in an alley.

Probably to get bummed by a tramp in the early hours of the morning.

Only Jones wouldn't show that bit, he'd cut to an empty taxi rank round the corner.

Tho' he'd probably dub the sound of foxes playing in a garden over the footage just to stop you falling into a coma.

Scarily according to the cast he actually remortgaged his house to pay for this so either he was really fucking delusional or he really hated the wallpaper and reckoned that losing his home to the bank was a better option than just burning it down.

Put it in me!

But who knows perhaps the film is actually really meta and is in fact just playing with our preconceptions of what makes a good slasher - I mean we all accept Jason wearing a hockey mask or Leatherface wearing your mums mug so why not a terrifying mountain-based cannibal in a child's baseball cap and a mantit hugging T-shirt?

And sure after The Evil Dead we were spoiled with Raimi's patented 'shaky-cam' and wall to wall grue but who's to say that overexposed static shots of random trees and stock footage of traffic jams isn't the next leap forward in tree-based terror?

Plus after axes, chainsaws and fingerblades what's stopping a jam covered pen knife being a terrifying weapon of death?

Indeed maybe this film is actually cinematic genius and it's me who's wrong.

What the truth is we'll never know for sure cos I'm fucked if I'm going to lose any more sleep thinking about it.

Good day.

*And I only know this as I own the entire run on DVD.....sad but true.

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