More Brutal Backwoods Butchery!!!

Here’s another terrible trio of criminally underrated backwoods bloodbaths from the early days of the 80’s horror craze!

 

MOTHER’S DAY (1980)

This holiday favorite begins inside a rather tatty looking self help meeting. After the graduation ceremony a young couple bums a ride home from a sweet looking old lady. The shady acting couple seem to have sinister intentions, and when the old woman’s car suddenly breaks down on a lonely stretch of road in the woods her imminent demise seems inevitable. Suddenly a pair of masked psychopaths show up and attack the couple. They swiftly decapitate the dude sitting in the backseat and then violently assault the girl on the roof of the car. Then things take a turn for the bizarre when the old woman joins in. She strangles the girl and then congratulates the killers for a job well done. The psychos are the demented old woman’s sons – Ike & Addley, and they have made their mother very proud!

As the opening credits roll we take a trip down memory lane with a tasty trio of wacky prank pulling college roommates that call themselves the rat pack. We then get to spend a little time with each of the girls all grown up after college. Trina is a pool party throwing high roller enjoying the fast life in Beverly Hills, Abbey is a mousy loser suffering under her sick and dying mother’s oppression in a tiny apartment in Chicago, and Jackie is a spineless slut constantly being taken advantage of by men in the Big Apple. The girls had made a vow to stay friends forever and reunite once a year for a mystery weekend where they meet at a different place chosen by that year’s leader.

This year it’s Jackie’s turn to pick the destination and she chooses an out of the way stretch of woods in upstate New York called Deep Barrons. A toothless prophet of doom in a country store warns the “Lez-Beans” not to go messin’ up in Deep Barrons, but being your typical know-it-all city slickers they choose to ignore him. The gals set up camp and have a few laughs stepping in bear shit, fishing, and splashing around topless in the river. We’re then treated to an unbearably wacky 70’s flashback of the rat pack in action, humiliating a dipshit former lover of Jackie’s named Dobber to the tune of Tommy James & The Shontelle’s classic “I Think We’re Alone Now!” The fun is short lived however. Unfortunately for the girls, Deep Barrons also happens to the home of Ike, Addley, and Momma!

Soon enough, the girls are kidnapped by Ike & Addley and brought back to their isolated house deep in the woods. It turns out that Mother is training her sons to be the very best murderers and rapists that they can be. She also needs her sons for protection, as she is convinced that her supposedly dead feral sister Queenie is actually still alive and stalking the woods at night. Her beloved boys Ike & Addley are a real pair of winners. They have a Sesame Street alarm clock in their bedroom, brush their teeth with beer, eat EZ Cheese out of the can, and debate endlessly as to whether “Punk Sucks” or “Disco’s Stupid” (reminds me of some of my former house mates!). They are also consummate media junkies, with a television constantly blaring in the living room. Being called a sadistic motherfucker simply makes Ike smirk but the accusation of being “backwoods” is enough to make him snap and exclaim “Don’t you ever say backwoods again! We’re CITY-FIED! You look around!”

The two dim witted savages have a blast humiliating, beating, and raping Jackie, as Mother happily watches and barks out orders. The next morning during the brothers’ daily workout the girls manage to escape, but Jackie is badly injured and Abbey suffers a nasty hand wound in the process. Trina tries to make a break for their car but discovers that the brothers have already sabotaged it and that there is no way to escape. Jackie dies soon afterwards from her wounds and Trina & Abbey swear revenge. The girls pool their resources and begin an unbelievable final assault on the sadistic family, which includes hatchets to the groin, electric knife chest carving, Drano down the throat, television set head bashing, and suffocation via inflatable breasts! And just when you think you’ve seen it all, the always annoying post- “Carrie” shock epilogue is unleashed to further assault the audience and confuse the proceedings.

This infamous 1980 revenge epic from writer/director Charles Kaufman is easily my favorite of Troma’s original productions (I almost always prefer the films that they only distribute). This one is a lot less silly than the usual Troma fare and plays out more in the vein of flicks like “Last House On The Left.” Your brain will be battered by the constant switching of tones, which vary from light hearted comedy to gut punching misery. The special effects are also hit and miss. The opening decapitation is laughably fake, while the hand wound suffered by Abbey is hideously realistic looking. There is plenty of splatter along the way to keep gorehounds happy. I have to say that the rape scene, which includes forced role play, photography of the outrage, and a particularly savage beating is one of the most disturbing that I’ve seen. This especially brutal scene makes the final turning of the tables even more satisfying.

Another big positive is the surprising amount of characterization on display. The brief scenes of the girl’s day-to-day lives give us considerable insight into their characters and add a lot of impact to the film’s climax as well. There’s a lot of irony and a considerable amount of satire too. I’d say more, but I don’t want to ruin any of the surprises. Speaking of surprises, the shock-ending is pretty weak in my opinion. It doesn’t ruin the film by any means, but it’s a bit of a groaner. Bonus points if you see it coming, as a lot of fans seem to miss the obvious set up on their first viewing.

Troma released a beautiful digitally mastered director’s cut dvd of MOTHER’S DAY that includes commentary by Charles Kaufman, interviews, and all of the other cheesy crap you’ve come to love and expect from a Troma dvd.

 

NIGHT OF THE DEMON (1980)

This one opens in the hospital room of the esteemed Professor Nugent. The Nuge was found in the woods horribly mutilated and incoherent from the shock and pain. An inspector arrives at the hospital to question the professor about the whereabouts of his five missing students. Fighting back the pain, Professor Nugent tells the inspector that all of the horror stories about the forest are true.

In the first of MANY flashbacks, the Nuge then tells the tale of a fisherman who was found brutally murdered in the same woods. Even more horrifying, the killer wasn’t man – it was Bigfoot! The bloodthirsty Bigfoot demon rips the fisherman’s arm off and the stump bleeds behind the opening titles. The credits arrive via sensitive sounding soft rock and footage of a couple walking on a college campus than resembles a 70’s tampon ad.

This good looking young couple are a pair of Professor Nugent’s prized students. Nuge shows his class disturbing footage that was recovered from the site of yet another suspected Bigfoot murder. Then the daughter of one of the victims shows up to talk about the time Bigfoot killed a couple that were fucking in a van. Bigfoot rudely interrupted the proceedings by grabbing the dude and smashing his face into the roof of the van. The redhead bimbo reacted by doing her best fake orgasms for a few minutes before the final freeze frame.

The professor prepares an expedition into the woods with five of his students. His wife thinks it is a terrible idea, and so does the college, who remove their funding. Regardless, the Nuge presses on and leads everyone to their doom. After setting up camp the Professor tells a campfire tale about a dude on a motorcycle who stopped on the side of a nearby road to smoke a joint and take a leak, only to have his dick ripped off by the infernal beast! Later that night things take a turn for the bizarre when the Nuge and one his students stumble upon a backwoods rape ritual being performed in Bigfoot’s honor!

The next morning a totally unrelated man sleeping in the woods is killed by the demon. Bigfoot violently swings the dude around in his sleeping bag (Jason Vorhees stole everything from this guy!) before impaling him on a branch! Who this person is, I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter because it beefs up the body count. The students go to town and question the locals about the legends of Bigfoot and a deranged woman named Crazy Wanda. After hearing morbid tales of a religious cult led by Wanda’s father and Wanda’s rape and miscarriage, the group pushes farther into the woods looking for Crazy Wanda’s secluded cabin.

As darkness falls Professor Nugent tells the incredible tale of a woodsman that Bigfoot chopped to death with an axe. Then he spins an epic yarn about a pair of unfortunate Girl Scouts that Bigfoot stalks before capturing them and forcing them to stab each other to death! This scene had me standing up and cheering. These stories apparently turn on a pair of frisky students who wander off to shag in a sleeping bag. The eternally cockblocking creature shows up to spoil the fun and give the Nuge’s student a bad case of the back scratch fever.

The group eventually force their way into Crazy Wanda’s cabin and immediately impose their will upon the deranged and disturbed young women. It’s hard to feel sympathetic for the professor or his students when they rifle through Crazy Wanda’s meager possessions and break into a bedroom that she had locked shut. As if this isn’t enough, the Nuge then takes it upon himself to hypnotize Crazy Wanda and force her to relive her past traumas. Under hypnosis, Wanda reveals the twisted secrets about the time that Bigfoot boned her and she burned her daddy for killing her Bigfoot baby.

Just when it seems like things can’t get any more disturbing, the monster invades the cabin and unleashes a devastating final attack on the Nuge and his students! This unholy rampage is highlighted with strangulation, throat slashing, pitchfork impalement, and dismemberment capped off with Bigfoot gleefully swinging bloody intestines through the air! Professor Nugent makes a final desperate attempt to stop the beast and winds up deeply regretting it. But will he survive, and what will be left of his face?

Wow! I wish I could have seen this one sooner. What a fantastic flick. NIGHT OF THE DEMON is unrated and full of grisly footage that could easily earn it an X rating. It didn’t surprise me when I read that this film had been banned in the UK as a Video Nasty. The scenes of castration and dismemberment are about as gory as they come. Much credit must be given to director James C Wasson and writer Mike Williams for having the guts to create such a gruesome picture.

The acting is abysmal, the structure is muddled by the annoying flashback within a flashback set up, and when we finally get a good look at the monster the makeup is ridiculous. You’ll be wishing for Charles B. Pierce to come along and show them how make a convincing looking creature. Not that any of that really matters. This is pure entertainment from start to finish. What it lacks in competence or talent it more than makes up for with carnage and cheap laughs. Sadly, this is not available on dvd. It is fairly easy to find online though and well worth the effort.

 

DON’T GO IN THE WOODS…ALONE! (1981)

This 1981 slasher epic from co-writer/producer/director James Bryan is a backwoods bloodbath from start to finish. It starts out with alternating shots of the beautiful Utah wilderness and a chick running for her life. Shortly after the credits roll, a geeky photographer is dismembered by an unseen maniac. We then get to spend a little quality time with our four leads: Craig: the know it all in a cowboy hat, Peter: the wise ass, Joanie: the whiner, and Ingrid: the mildly attractive redhead.

As the kids enjoy their vacation and frolic under a waterfall, the feral madman killer throws a professor in a tacky pick shirt to his death. Then the maniac introduces the professor’s annoying wife to his trusty machete. The morbidly obese sheriff and his dimwitted deputy slowly and ineptly investigate. Tubby eats up some precious screen time flying in a small aircraft looking for the missing professor.

When night falls we meet a pair of pukeworthy lovers named Dick & Cherry about to bump uglies (and I mean UGLIES!) in Dick’s van. Dick tries to set the perfect mood but Cherry gets spooked when she spots the killer. Dick grabs his trusty rod and goes looking for the peeping tom pencil neck geek. The savage killer makes short work of Dick and leaves Cherry alone to yell “DICK?!?” over and over before finally pushing the van over a cliff, causing a massive explosion!

The carnage continues the next day as the savage slayer snuffs a female painter in front of her baby daughter, and reaches a peak later that night when a black couple in a sleeping bag are hung from a tree and stabbed to death. When day breaks, Peter gets an eyeful of the killer throwing a bear trap at a fisherman’s face! The madman then snuffs Craig and forces the others to split up and run for their lives. Peter & Ingrid manage to escape the woods alive and make their way to a hospital. Joanie is not so lucky and is left alone to fend for herself.

It isn’t long before Peter snaps and decides to head back into the woods to look for Joanie and get revenge on the backwoods bastard that killed his best friend. The Sheriff assembles a posse and also enters the woods looking for the killer. Despite all of this activity, the killer still finds time to decapitate a gimp in a wheelchair. The final battle between the madman and the team of Peter & Ingrid is a machete massacre. When pushed to the point of no return, these so-called civilized young people unleash a onslaught of savage butchery.

I’m a big fan of this crude and exploitive cult classic. This flick more than lives up to it’s immortal tag line, and is sure to cause nightmares about the ugliest ways to die. DON’T GO IN THE WOODS…ALONE pretty much defines the term cheesy slasher. This by the numbers tale of campers being stalked and slain by a hulking, silent Neanderthal would be instantly forgettable if it weren’t for the sheer incompetence of the filmmakers, the inappropriate hideousness of the music, and the almost inhuman ugliness of everyone who graces the screen. It’s a toss up for me to pick who is more disgusting: the morbidly obese sheriff (he puts the MORBID in morbidly obese) or the haggard Olive Oyl lookalike who plays Cherry.

This flick doesn’t skimp on the splatter, and should satisfy slasher fans with a thrist for brutal backwoods butchery. “Don’t Go In The Woods…Alone” was gruesome enough to earn a spot on the Video Nasties list and be banned in the UK for decades. It has earned a well deserved reputation as one of the most notorious 80’s slashers. It doesn’t win any points for originality or sophistication but that didn’t stop the film from becoming a modest box office success. In the proud grindhouse tradition of winning at any cost, this film was marketed inside a haunted house and once shared a double feature with “E.T.” in Los Angeles.

Code Red released an excellent special edition dvd of DON’T GO IN THE WOODS…ALONE . The bonus features include an extensive behind the scenes featurette, old school talk show appearances to promote the film, poster & still gallery, and the theatrical trailer.

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!! 

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One Response to “More Brutal Backwoods Butchery!!!”

  1. I miss the weird family tradition of sitting down together and watching Mother’s Day.

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