Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Don't Go Near the Park

While the reviews here tend to be somewhat skewed more favorably than the average critic’s, as I have the luxury of reviewing only movies that I was interested in (and therefore would normally hope were good), there come times such as now when I purchased a movie (usually, as is the case here, a horror movie) for the express purpose of trying to see just how bad it is.

Don’t Go Near the Park has quite a pedigree. Fans of 70s grind house fare will be familiar with the “Don’t” horror movies, which were a number of cheaply made horror films warning audiences not to go somewhere or do something. Films like Don’t Look in the Basement, Don’t Go in the House, Don’t Go in the Woods, Don’t Open the Door, etc. Every last one of these was a terrible film, though some were admittedly quite entertaining in their badness (my favorite probably being Don’t Go in the Woods). Don’t Go Near the Park, on the other hand, is pretty widely considered to be by far the worst of the lot, with an Amazon rating of 1.5 stars and an IMDB rating so low that a few more negative reviews might well push it down into Bottom 100 territory.

The problems start right at the opening text crawl which informs us that “while the film you are about to see is fiction, it's based on actual occurrences which happened over the centuries”, before jumping into a plot about two Neanderthals cursed by a witch to stay young forever by cutting people’s bellies open and eating their internal organs, thus stealing their youth. Yeah, I must have missed that part of my world history class too. The one Neanderthal (Robert Gribbin), now in semi-present day, winds up falling for a young woman he’s stalking (scream queen Linnea Quigley -- this, by the way, was her 38th highest ranked movie by IMDB), marrying her, and having a daughter (Tamara Taylor). The daughter quickly grows up to get molested by a bunch of guys in a van (shortly before the van crashes and explodes for reasons unknown, leaving her the sole survivor), get hit on by a seven year old boy, and be used in a dark ritual intended to end her father’s curse in some vague way.

There’s quite a few problems with the film, from the acting to the near complete lack of a plot to the terrible dialogue to the even more terrible gore effects, which generally involve a character’s shirt being ripped open to reveal a giant fake-looking wrinkly pot belly for the Neanderthal to rip into and yank out organs. The acting routinely is along the lines of the cast standing there reciting their lines completely devoid of emotion, as if the only film any of them had previously seen was Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (that film I would absolutely recommend, as the complete indifference every last actor in it has to everything starts to become outright hypnotic after a while). The plot, what little there is of it, is badly disjointed, with scenes ending abruptly (sometimes with just an immediate cut to a different scene without any resolution) and plotlines being dropped and never mentioned again. The dialogue is perhaps the worst part, though: it’s as if co-writer and director Lawrence D. Foldes decided to pass off dialogue duties to someone from France who was then in their second year of English courses in college, or perhaps gave the task to a robot to handle. It’s awkward and stilted to the point where it’s nearly impossible to believe someone that speaks English as their native tongue could have written it, and the actors frequently wind up pausing awkwardly (some would says Shatneresquely) midsentence, as if pondering where their life’s decisions have led them.

While there is plenty of (terrible looking) blood and Linnea Quigley’s breasts in the film, there are a great many films from the 80s that feature both things and are much better than this. Do yourself a favor and go check out Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers or Return of the Living Dead instead, if you’re looking for such a film; you’ll be much happier than you would be watching this drivel.

Rating: *

P.S. Notice how, in the trailer below, they showed almost nothing from the actual film. This is because they were fully aware that anything they showed would only decrease ticket sales.

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