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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Friday, June 21, 2019

The Forest (1982)

I debated if I should include this one in my Slasher movie marathon. It doesn’t check off all the boxes that I expect from the genre, but it was sold as and lumped in with the early entries to the genre that flooded the market after the original Friday the 13th. I guess that I might as well put it here since it doesn’t seem to really fit into any one horror subgenre.

I’m a huge fan of legendary actor and stuntman Gary Kent so I really wanted to like this movie. In it Kent plays John, a strange man who lives in the woods. He seems like a decent enough guy, you know except for the cannibalism! Thru a flashback we find out that he was a henpecked husband that finally broke when caught his wife with another man. After taunting him he killed her and her lover and then fled into the woods with his children, a boy and girl. At some later time, the kids either killed themselves or got sick and gave up. Not quite sure which. Never fear because their ghosts still haunt the woods as well as that of their long dead mother who is looking for them.

Confused yet? In all of this mess comes two couples on a camping trip. The women head out a day early to prove that they don’t need the men, who don’t even wait a whole day to follow them. Though the men do get delayed a bit with a bad radiator. This gives the ladies a chance to setup camp, meet the ghosts, and get attacked by John. Nothing personal he is just hungry. When the men finally do show up, they find the ladies gone, meet up with John, and one of them shares a meal with him. Yeah, the dude eats his wife… Don’t get too excited because that is the only thing that this movie is remembered for.

Cannibals and ghosts aren’t exactly what you would expect from a slasher. But the movie does have the requisite attempts at gore and there is quite a bit of stalking as the killer follows his victims around the woods. Sadly, neither of these are executed well at all. First up the gore is mediocre at best. The kills are a combination of throat slashing and stabbing. While that might be realistic it doesn’t make for any interesting gags. Everything is done old school with blood packs full of fake movie blood and hands covering the wounds, so you never get any cool special effects on screen. By the time the Forest came out the bar had been set way higher than that.

Ghost kids... this movie gets weird!
The scenes of killer stalking his victims suffers from some terrible editing. Not only does the movie shift between day and night shots in what is supposed to all be at night, but John seems to have the ability to teleport all over the place. He always manages to be in front of the people he is chasing, in spite of the fact that it would be nearly impossible for this to happen once, much less the half dozen times we see it on screen. Beyond the editing it is also clear that they didn’t have enough story for the movie because we get a ton of filler. Whether it is them talking about camping, getting the radiator fixed, or walking to the campsite (twice… once with the girls and then with the guys!) this movie is padded. That makes for a slow story that will have you watching the clock.

The only time The Forest is at all interesting is when Kent is on the screen. His portrayal of the killer is interesting and not at all over the top. He comes off as a sort of normal guy that was broken by the betrayal of his wife and loss of his kids. Sadly, that isn’t nearly enough to recommend this one. If you want to see a decent flick starring Kent check out School Girls in Chains. Now that is a great movie!

© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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