Don’t Go in the Woods (1981) (Blu-ray/DVD Review)


Don’t Go in the Woods (1981) (Blu-ray/DVD Review)
Directed By: James Bryan
Starring: Jack McClelland, Mary Gail Artz, James P. Hayden
Rated: R/Region A/1:66/1080p/Number of Discs 2
Available 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.

If we are to call a spade a spade, we have to confess to the pink elephant in the room that Don’t Go in the Woods (…alone?) ins’t that great of a movie. Now, now, hold on just a moment before you storm out of the review, because while it isn’t a A-list slasher or even a B-list slasher for that matter, there is still some entertainment value. It is a lot of fun to watch in a lot of ways because of how bad it is, if I am to be truthful on the matter. We have a killer stalking people in the woods and taking them out one by one. Why is he doing this? Is it even a human? We don’t know and we never really find out. We kind of just get person after person going into the woods and getting killed. Some characters are acted out soo badly they are fun and some are just so bad that they are, well, bad. So, this isn’t Friday the 13th, folks. This isn’t even Madman. This is rather awkward, yet I still wanted to finish it. That seems to be the normal reaction to most who have seen Don’t Go in the Woods. Would a solid lead have helped? Yes. Would some form of actual plot have helped a little more? Yes! Still, I’ll rank this one a little higher than you’d expect for a film of this quality just because of how entertainingly bad it actually is. It can be easy as a reviewer to get all mixed up in the technical and straight forward part of reviewing. I think some times we forget the entertainment factory, and that is something that we shouldn’t do. That is something I did while watching this. I just turned my brain off and let it flow wherever it wanted, which is usually all over the place.


The music is at least cool and some of the kills are pretty nice for their time and for what we have here. I don’t even mind the fact we don’t really have a back story or plot, that doesn’t end up being much of an issue in this context, I just admit that I sort of got tired of random person after random person just dieing and the wash and repeat method of it. The movie needed a little more to it than we get, but I can see where a nostalgic factor may play into things when it comes to this movie for some people. Here, we have a nice release for a movie that can make you laugh for all the wrong reasons. Is this the worst slasher from the 80s? Of course not. But, it is very sub-par in content and delivery in a number of ways. It IS still fun! I can’t stress that part enough, because I don’t want anything negative about the film I’ve said here to stop you from checking it out. Just know going into it that it isn’t THAT kind of slasher film at the end of the day. It basically is what it is and I can live with that. It you want to just watch something that is a bit goofy, but still has a nice vibe and a really awesome cover to go along with it, then by all means check this one out. It isn’t a crystal clear picture, but it looks ten times better than the old DVD release.


– Director’s Commentary
– Group Commentary With Director, Star Mary Gail Arts And Others
– Commentary With The Hysteria Continues!
– Cast And Crew Interviews
– Autograph Signing Party Footage
– Pressbooks And Artwork Gallery
– Production Still Images
– TV Promo
– Theatrical Trailer

Quality of the Transfer: 86%