Review Date: January 30, 2007
Released by: Code Red
Release date: 11/7/2006
Region 0, NTSC
Widescreen 1.78:1 | 16x9: Yes
It has been close to three months now since I’ve reviewed Don’t Go In the Woods
. The physical scars from trying to slit my wrists during the final theme song have almost healed. But I will remain haunted inside forever. Being a horror fan though, you sort of morbidly seek out this bad movie pain, and after revelling in a month of Oscar movies, it is time to satiate my inner Nilbog. So I return to the woods once more with Code Red’s third release, The Forest
. They made quite an impression with their Woods
DVD, with image quality so clear it will forever remained burned in my retinas. The Forest
promises a similar experience, right down to the cover art, which plays (lord no!) on the Don’t Go In the Woods
theme song: “Don’t go in the woods today…you might not get out ALIVE!” At least they aren’t setting us up for disappointment this time by saying we’ll be “thrilled”. So put on your bad movie boots, because this could get painful.
Oh god, no. The movie begins with that same irritating synth music that defined Don’t Go In the Woods
, and look, here are two campers once again lost in la woodscha. And no, no, no…they are being filmed with the same sort of drawn out handheld shots cut way too slow and with bad voice over. It is as if director James Bryan has come back from Woods
to give us pain under a different name. The hikers are killed without gore and with some really fake looking blood. This is the exact same movie, Code Red, mining an excellent marketing strategy, has packaged the same film with a sleeker cover. I am packing my bags, because at this rate I’ll be heading to an insane asylum for the post-Woodsum depression. Wait. It just cut to some traffic footage. Okay, so we aren’t in the woods, or the forest, I guess, anymore. Cool, inner city stuff. Okay, another shot of congested traffic. Now we have a DJ giving us traffic updates. A pan of cars in gridlock. A bridge packed bumped to bumper. Okay. Traffic. I get it. Another shot of cards, and another still. For the love of Grandpa Seth, make it stop.
As the endless traffic montage comes to a close, we finally hear a voice over from two unseen males. I guess they are in one of those cars in these recycled documentary footage. Cut to a medium two-shot of Steve (Dean Russell
) and Charlie (John Batis
) in a car. Nice. Steve sits with his arm around Charlie and proposes they ditch their wives and go alone on a hiking trip. In 1982 this might have been okay, but in a post-Brokeback
film culture, the motives here seem very suspicious. We get a few more traffic shots to pad the running time, then we cut to a dinner scene between the two men and their wives, Sharon (Tomi Barrett
) and Teddi (Ann Wilkinson
). The two wives propose they go on their own hiking trip too, just to prove that they are tougher (now remember, Steve had his arm around Charlie) than the men. So off they go in separate vehicles to that vast California wilderness (who knew?).
The girls arrive first, and one finds her throat slit by an old man with tattered clothes. “When you are hungry, everything is in season” he muses as Steve and Charlie later end up unknowingly eating Charlie’s cooked wife with the killer. The killer, horrifically named John (Gary Kent
), tells them a story of how he wound up in the woods. See, he is almost impotent, but not enough so to still have two kids who now haunt the forest as ghosts. But anyway, he came home one day to find his wife boning the furnace, err, refrigerator repairman. Out of a sad rage, he strangles his wife, hits her head off a nightstand, and then impales the repairman on a jigsaw blade. You’d think that Steve and Charlie would be next on his slaughter list, but not really. He lets them go, and then they sort of kill themselves by tripping over logs and slipping in the river, and stuff like that. Real suspenseful. Daddy gets hungry once more, but his ghostly children will help set the survivors free. Seriously.
While not as completely, surreally awful as Don’t Go In the Woods
, The Forest
certainly earns its place alongside it as terrible “camp”. When people say “Does a bear shit in the woods?” I’m convinced it is about these two films. Where Don’t Go In the Woods
stays agonizingly in the woods and offers the weirdest dialogue, action and character motivation ever transcribed onto film, The Forest
is at least more or less linear and understandable. It is just more stupid. Gary Kent makes for a sympathetic, and at the same time very weird killer, though. He even offers a legitimate laugh when Charlie yells in fear “What, are you crazy!” and he response “Of course I am!” While the film does pick up whenever Kent is mulling away on screen, the vast majority of it is bottom-of-the-barrel filmmaking.
There is some fun to be had in laughing at the indescribably long and pointless traffic scene at the beginning, or the endless, indiscernible wide shots with pages of plot-driven voice over, but when you realize almost the entire movie is constructed of these tropes, it gets tired, fast. This movie sucks. The editing is atrocious, the gore consists of blood strewn on uncut clothing and what looks to be a tooth taped to someone’s shin to stand in for a leg bone, and the plot is one of the slowest moving of all slashers. Yet, even though I was checking the clock after every painful minute, I could not turn it off for fear I would miss something even more laughable. These ghost kids seem transported out of It’s A Wonderful Life
and that thick gay subtext with the male leads is funny to read into. Especially when Steve bursts into tears at the end of the film. Pussy. This is one of those agonizing film experiences you have to put yourself through every so often, just to remind yourself why you are stronger than the average filmmaker. If you can make it through The Forest
, and I do recommend you try, then you could take Paul Haggis in a fight. And if you can endure a double feature with Don’t Go In the Woods
, then, well, you’ve earned the Horrordvds.com medal of honour. Happy hunting.
Code Red did some impressive work with their restoration of Don’t Go In the Woods
, but here there work is a lot less noteworthy. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer starts off very poorly with lots of dust and debris on the print, in addition to scratches and a very washed out color palette. Thankfully though, after the prologue the print gets much cleaner, although still far from pristine. A problem that plagues the picture throughout is a faded flicker in the left corner that distracts and really softens the black levels. Colors are inconsistent throughout, with the grass changing from vibrant green to an almost grey from shot to shot. Near the end the print damage accelerates to the levels at the beginning, but at that point you just want the film to end, so it isn’t much bother. The print is a worn in theatrical release print, so it is clear Code Red didn’t have much to work with, but that said, they could have done better.
plants in with an English mono track. It starts out really rough as well, with plenty of pops and hisses, but settles into a more acceptable sub-par sound. The hiss is still prominent and there are the typical sound jumps between reel changes, which I guess adds to the sort of drive-in appeal this film has. It is not perfect, and sometimes small segments are tough to discern (when Charlie says “I feel a chill” you think he’s saying “I’m on the pill”) but overall it is acceptable for a film of this age and obscurity.
Like with their release of Don’t Go In the Woods
, Code Red’s The Forest
DVD has a bunch of non-advertised goodies that help make up for the ineptitude of the actual film. The first supplement, non-advertised, is a commentary with director Don Jones, cinematographer Stuart Asbjorsen and a pretentious and annoying moderator. Jones and Asbjorsen are both laid back and have a little fun with the track, but the moderator usually spoils the mood with his nasally spouting of condescending, assuming facts. He may be a good writer, I don’t know, but he certainly doesn’t have the voice or composure for commentaries. Secondly we get the advertised commentary with Gary Kent and Don Jones, and thankfully there is no moderator is to be heard. The sound quality is poor, lots of echo and the like, but it is a much livelier track. It is as if Jones took all the questions he had from the first commentary and threw them to Kent to answer, and Kent acquits himself well. Since there is overlap between the two commentaries, there is no question that the Kent track is all you need to satiate your Forest needs.
Probably the best supplement, again non-advertised, is a 13-minute featurette with interviews with Gary Kent, Don Jones and Stuart Asbjorsen. They are all very frank about the film, and at times it is kind of depressing. Jones reveals that he was out of work and decided to mortgage his house to get this financed, but here he ended up losing his house and making nothing on the project. You certainly don’t hear that on Hollywood featurettes! Kent is fun to listen to, talking about his embarrassment from being killed by a woman in the picture, and how the film has amassed somewhat of a cult at his house. The video quality varies from poor to average, while the sound has a lot of ambient noises obstructing the dialogue. But Code Red did go out there and get the interviews, so with whatever means possible, we’ll take it!
A still gallery and a batch of Code Red trailers round off the disc. Apparently Code Red’s DVDs aren’t selling well, and that’s a shame, because the unreleased Sweet Sixteen
and Beyond the Door
are probably the most popular films of their entire catalogue. The trailers for those, as well as Devil Times Five
, Jules Verne’s Fabulous Journey to the Center of the Earth
, Don’t Go In the Woods
, School Girls in Chains
and Secrets of Sweet Sixteen
are also included. A truncated trailer for The Forest
is also included, and it is about as coherent as the film.
is a genuinely awful movie, filled with laughable production values, tame effects and the longest, most pointless, traffic jam scene you’ll ever see. If you went in the Woods
…alone! before, then chances are this prickly piece of crap will have you tickled silly too. The audio and video quality are a step down from Code Red’s previous work, but such a film doesn’t warrant much better. Code Red includes their typically extensive and enjoyable arrangement of supplements to help flesh out this release. After Don’t Go In the Woods
I vowed never to tread into such bottom barrel foliage, yet here I am again awestruck at The Forest
. And you know what? I can’t wait for Doom Asylum
. Help me.
Movie - D
Image Quality - C-
Sound - B-
Supplements - B+
- Running time - 1 hour 25 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English mono
- Commentary with director Don Jones and Gary Kent
- Commentary with Don Jones, cinematographer Stuart Asbjorsen and moderator
- Cast & crew interviews
- Theatrical trailer
- Trailers for other Code Red films
- Still gallery