42nd Street Cinema

The Forest (1982)

The ForestFirst off I'd like to say there are some spoilers in here. I have not shown where they are either, if in any doubt do not read. This being a slasher film it never really matters too much with spoilers.

So, let me kick it off by saying I have never seen this film before. Neither have I ever heard of Don Jones. I figured this would be like most 'backwoods slasher' films.
The basic outline of this film is essentially a 'cannibalistic killer in woods'. Opening with some great 'stationary' shots of a couple hiking through a woodland area, these suddenly turn into what would appear to be from the perspective of the killer. Cue some great 80s synth soundtrack. As the couple become separated the killer turns his blade towards the man jousting it into his gut. Lovely. As the woman hears his screams she goes to investigate, finding her presumed husband dead, she starts running. Let a chase sequence begin! Finally catching up with her he slits her throat, during this killing there is a lot of emphasis on the blade. We then snap to Los Angeles, packed highways and two guys who are complaining about traffic, these being Steve (Dean Russell) and Charlie (John Batis).
They decide to go on a camping trip with their wives, for a quick break from the city. Cutting too the evening of the two couples having dinner and discussing the trip. One of the males who has trousers so tight he's given himself a camel toe makes a joke about rapists in the woods as a way to deter the two girls going out in the woods alone. So after some decision making they all finally decide to go up together.

John...The Killer!

As the girls get to their destination before the two guys, they set up a tent as it begins to get dark. Being two girls and not having a clue about how to set up a tent, one 'huffs and puffs' while the other laughs. Finally as the two guys arrive they meet the forest ranger who tells them 'Be careful, you know over the years there's been some people who ain't come back from there' and that the bodies have never been found. The two guys take the warning and continue on their way.
After what would seem like hours of walking the two guys begin arguing as they cannot find the way to their destination. As night falls the girls; Sharon (Tomi Barrett) and Teddi (Ann Wilkinson) start a fire to keep warm. Already the film is isolating both sets of characters, the men and the women. From here we learn that the killer is seemingly tormented by the ghosts of his two dead children. The two women are confronted by the ghost of the killer's wife asking them if they had seem her two children and to send them home if they do as they must be punished.
The children tell their dad John (the killer, played by Gary Kent) who then decides to go hunting, grabbing the good old Bowie Knife. They then go and warn the two women that their father is coming to kill them. Ghosts seeming to be real in this film is a strange take on the 'stalk and slash' genre to say the least. Throughout some of the scenes the killer strangely reminded me of Billy Bob Thornton. As one girl goes off to hide the other stays by the fire. Leading to further separation of the group.
As the girl by the fire gets mortally wounded by being stabbed at least 4 or 5 times in a rather cool sequence (check the screen cap below). She begins crawling on the ground muttering 'Help me'. Before having her throat slit. Her friend who was hiding witnesses the whole scenario, however as she steps on a twig it gives her hiding place away. Damn those twigs in 'the forest'. Leading to chase sequence #2. In desperation the woman jumps into a river, escaping the killer's grasp...for now.

As we are reunited with the males who are still trying to find their way to the camp site. They decide to hide from the storm in a cave. Unknown to them it is the lair of John. The two blokes are startled by the two children warning them that 'if their dad catches them in there he will be angry'. When asked where their father is they reply 'Behind you'. Sure enough there he is, he invites the two males to dinner with him. One declines the other takes him up on his offer, at this point he doesn't know it's his wife he will be eating. A connotation of this scene could be seen as 'male bonding'. John begins telling the two men how he became a hermit living in the woods.
The film cuts to a flashback where we see him come home to find his wife in bed with another man and the kids locked in the closet. The guys ask him what he did, he replies 'I did what any man would do...nothing, I did nothing'. When in reality he ended up strangling his wife and bashing her head off the bedside table. After quite a comical fight sequence with the man he found in bed with his wife, he offs him by forcing his neck on to a circular saw. While the kids gaze on and watch their father bury the body.

The guys begin to chat among themselves, asking if the story was really true and that he really did 'nothing'. After both guys fall asleep they are woken up by John startling them with a loud and abrupt "MORNING". The guys leave and continue to the camp site, finding it deserted. They both split up to search. Continuing with the separation and isolation of the characters. The guys finally meet up, however the dialogue in this scene is overshadowed by the roaring of the water in the background. Slightly annoying but you are still able to make out that they plan to go back to talk to 'the old man' and find out if he saw their wives.

As the film flicks back to the surviving girl the children catch up with her and warn her that their father is nearby and she must hide. Leading to chase #3. Manging to lose the killers sight, she is safe. After slipping on a rock Steve injures his ankle. We learn that the children killed themselves, and that it made John go insane.
Catching up with Charlie who stayed at the camp he gets confronted by John, after a short fight sequence John escapes with Charlie hot on his tail. Cue another fight leading to Charlie's demise. Sharon; the children take her to the camp site were she sees Charlie being cut apart by John.
She is soon discovered by John who takes a knife to her throat, however in a strange turn the dead kids threaten to leave him on his own if he kills her.
Sharon manages to get to Steve in time before John kills him. As she stabs and kills John this seems to set the spirits of his dead wife and children free. Leaving the couple clutching one another.

The climax of this film has an incredibly cool sequence which involves the image flashing on the screen. It's quite hard to describe unfortunately I was unable to find any YouTube footage of this.

There is a slight level of stupidity in this film, with the 'ghost' logic. It's something I personally didn't dig. The body count for this film is quite small too for a slasher film. Though having ghosts a part of the plot it's not your average slasher.

Overall I found this movie enjoyable. It reminded me of Don't Go In The Woods (1981) which was apparently titled The Forest 2 as an Australian video title according to IMDB. With decent moments of suspense albeit short-lived...literally. Great location with some good cinematography. Even the acting in this film is far better than I had previously anticipated. However the pacing in this film is a bit airy. I would only recommend this to fans of the 'Stalk and Slash' genre.

DVD: Code Red
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Extras: Commentary with Director Don Jones and actor Gary Kent. Stills Gallery.

2 Stars


Anonymous said...

So was it better or worse than Don't Go In The Woods Alone?

James said...

Umm either worse or on a par with.

movies left for dead said...

this was a wierd movie. don't go in the woods i liked much better

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