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Don't Go Near the Park (1981)
24th Oct 06
Some 12,000 years ago a man and woman are cursed to thousands of years of killing to stay young until now, when they have to sacrifice a virgin from their bloodline.
The chances are a great many of you reading this will be familiar with that old video cover image of some sick-looking guy stuffing bloody guts into his mouth. It’s equally likely that you were tempted to rent the title in the hope of a great blood ‘n’ guts fest. You would’ve been disappointed had you rented it, because this is bargain bucket rubbish of the highest (make that lowest) order. Those guts you noticed on the video cover appear in the film – about three times as I recall – and every one of these scenes is virtually the same, as our two lead characters find a victim, put them to the ground, then slowly rip open their latex stomachs to remove and eat their bright red insides.
But why would they conduct such a hideous affair in the first place? What’s this all about? Well, I’ll tell you only what I can. A while ago – 12,000 years to be precise – two siblings – ‘Gar’ and ‘Tra’ – fornicate then kill their son, after which they are cursed by a wrinkly old ‘Queen Mother’ to a state of dying without death, aging 10 years for every one lived. The only way they can preserve youth – you guessed it – is to feast on the blood (and guts) of youthful humans, Countess Dracula style. When ”the stars complete the revolution of the Zodiac” or some such nonsense, they must sacrifice a virgin soul from the same bloodline in order to save their souls. Phew, ever get the feeling when you’re watching a movie that has the budget of an average family trip to the supermarket that they’ve tried a little to hard on the plot? This is absolute gibberish.
So, fast forward to the present and ‘Gar’ – now a more 20th Century sounding ‘Mark’ – has married an eager Linnea Quigley (in her first film) – a worthy vessel to bear the child to be sacrificed. They have a daughter, Bondi, who is now 16 and, of course, virginal. By a seemingly random series of incidents, Bondi shacks up with some homeless kids where, coincidentally, ‘Tra’ (she’s called Patty now) also stays. This is when Taft (Aldo Ray) comes into the equation. He’s a writer doing research on the park area in which they’re living – the park I’m assuming we’re not allowed to go near, if the title of the movie is anything to go by. Why? Because the park is “a power source for demons”, thanks to some old hag called ‘Petronella’ who got shot in the eye by her husband. But that’s not really important. In fact, you’ll probably have given up on the plot by this point, because it’s so badly written and ineptly directed that it doesn’t even deserve the respect of your sustained attention.
What this movie does have going for it is its reputation as a ‘video nasty’ here in the UK, but tell me you’ve never been fooled like that before. As you well know, being banned a good horror movie does not make, and Don’t Go Near the Park is a perfect example of this. This is a textbook on how not to make a movie; every single aspect of it is horribly flawed. The pacing is unbelievable and confusing, the story itself is a mish-mash of random confusion, the acting is bloody awful and the music feels like it has been taken directly from a 1980 American TV movie, and a rubbish one at that.
Even talents like Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s production design man Bob Burns can’t save this mess and it’s probably no coincidence that many of these ‘actors’ have no other films to their credit, e.g. (and I have to get this in because he’s got such an amazing name though I believe it’s a pseudonym) Crackers Phinn. Give that man a medal, if not for his acting then for such a great name.
One other thing DGNTP does have going for it is its final sequence where it really loses itself; our ancient characters start displaying hidden talents with laser beams out of their eyes, Superman-style. And if that’s not enough, then look out for the random flesh eating zombie attack. If anyone out there made complete sense of this movie then please drop me a line; I’d love to be enlightened. Even if it does make some kind of conventional sense than surely it should be made a little easier for us to understand. Don’t go near this film; this is for horror completists only.
Those great guys at Dark Sky Films have put together a better package than such a heap of shit deserves, complete with director’s commentary (Linnea Quigley features, too) and gory out-takes. Strangely, these include extended gore scenes not included in the cut presented here.