Event Report: Vinegar Syndrome Presents “DON’T GO IN THE WOODS” at Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers!Books/Art/Culture,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
New York area FANGORIA fans are likely (or if not, should be) aware of the Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers, our favorite purveyors of specialty and dine-in cinema. And if they are, they’re likely not to miss out on some of horror’s most excellent revival screenings, including those by FANGORIA, Video Vortex and Vinegar Syndrome. And it’s the latter that brought this writer out to the Drafthouse last Saturday, as I served as host to Vinegar Syndrome’s screening of the newly remastered cult classic DON’T GO IN THE WOODS.
For one of the more underappreciated and ridiculous summer slashers out there, this writer was surprised by the large turnout to the film, and how many were genuine horror fans who had never seen the film before. Having seen the film and having been acquainted with late night screenings of cult classics, there was a familiar sense of anticipation among the crowd as they settled into our somewhat smaller yet more intimate venue. Yet these fans, many of whom were fans of FANGORIA, Vinegar Syndrome and the Drafthouse, knew a dependable title when they see one, and as many die-hard fright fans will tell you, there’s rarely a boring vintage terror title that begins with the word “Don’t.”
As I waited for the time to take center stage, Alamo played their trademark custom pre-show for DON’T GO IN THE WOODS, which served a tonal precursor for what was to come. While somewhat spoilery, especially towards the identity of the film’s big baddie, the pre-show mostly included vintage trailers, once-televised reviews of the film, local news reports about the film’s production and even public access interviews with the film’s director and villain. If anything, this pre-show showed just how low-fi the film we were about to see was, and every sign pointed towards a campy, bloody dose of ’80s indie horror.
Soon enough, this writer made his way to the auditorium, greeting the fans with some back story about the film and my personal history with the film. Having discovered DON’T GO IN THE WOODS 2 years ago while researching an article for Diabolique Magazine written by the one-and-only Lacey Paige, this writer had been stunned by the ridiculous, absurd and hilarious depths the film sinks, both in quality and in taste. But the film is admittedly fun, and the over-the-top kill sequences on display were akin to a montage of random gory slasher nonsense. And all of this coming from a bona fide cult filmmaker, James Bryan, whose other credits included the likes of ENTER THE PASSION, BOOGIEVISION and LADY STREET FIGHTER. So after doing so, this writer returned to his seat and the show began…
Now for those who love ’80s slasher horror, this writer is happy to report that Vinegar Syndrome has gone above and beyond to give DON’T GO IN THE WOODS the best looking and sounding release to date. In fact, the new high-definition transfer is almost too good for the material, offering great picture quality and a crystal clear audio mix to one of the weirder and obscure cult classics out there. For those who doubt just how crazy DON’T GO IN THE WOODS can be, it’s got everything from bumbling backwoods cops to copious blood spilling to some of the most silly dialogue ever to be said in any horror film period. And for film purists, don’t fret; the Vinegar Syndrome transfer is still from a fairly rough negative, meaning the occasional discoloration or celluloid flaw makes the experience somewhat more authentic.
However, this screening wouldn’t be twice as fun without the great, energetic crowd on hand at the Alamo. The crowd ate up the movie like nobody’s business, laughing hard and cheering throughout whenever our “heroes” turned the tide on their beastly pursuer. This writer has also yet to see a crowd go as wild this year as this crowd as soon as a certain wheelchair-bound character met his fate in a clearly tasteless and juvenile act of horror hilarity. And when the credits finally rolled on DON’T GO IN THE WOODS, the crowd erupted in applause, having witnessed a truly trashy horror flick the exact way it was meant to be seen.