Backwoods (1987)

July 29, 2009 - 7:32am | FrighT MasteR
  Tags: 80's, backwoods, camping, Dean Crow, survival horror, woods

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)
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Dean Crow
Christine Noonan, Jack O'Hara, Brad Armacost, Dick Kreusser, Leslie Denise

Also known as "Geek" this is another in a long line of wilderness survival horror films to come out of the 80's, which is also the decade that made them most famous. Despite the theme of campers getting mixed up with an odd local family, it's actually somewhat different than what we usually get from this particular sub-genre. In fact, there's not one dead (human) body until an hour into the film, when things finally begin to pick up. The rest of the movie pretty much just builds tension between the couple and family, as we wait for their inevitable deaths. I know I spent most of my time wishing the family would just kill these people already, but instead we get a lot of talking and close-calls until the hour mark rolls in.

The story follows a doctor and his girlfriend, who head out in the outskirts of Kentucky in search of a little camping adventure. After spending the night with no problems, they wake up the next morning to a girl choking to death in front of their tent. Naturally, the doctor springs to action and saves the girl, leaving her strange redneck father in deep gratitude and invites the couple to his home, where he "feeds them" and lets them tent up in his yard. Despite the father's keep-to-himself-attitude and Sling Blade way of talking, with a bottle of moonshine, he opens up to the doctor after dinner, but fails to reveal his slow-witted "Geek" son William bunking up in the shed nearby. It's not until the next day that William makes an appearance, peeping at the doctor's woman as she decides to go for a little skinny dipping. It doesn't take long before the temperature rises to a violent climax.

For those unaware, the term "Geek" generally refers to what the sideshows would call someone who would literally bite the heads off live chickens. Considering there's really no deaths until an hour into it (aside from chickens), the pacing is pretty slow and we're given a lot of moody dramatic (and cheesy) music to help build tension between the family and campers. I have to admit that some of the build-up worked for me, but sadly, the payoff didn't. By the time things start rolling it's already an hour in and I've almost lost entirely all interest. The attempt to build character development was a worthy, but failed, effort for a flick in this sub-genre. However, it was interesting to see the tables turn towards the end, when the doctor's girl decides to fight back, as it was somewhat of a rarity for heroines to exist in 80's horror.

A slow-paced film that doesn't deliver until an hour into it, and by then you've likely lost all interest. Some of the build-up and tension seemed to work for me, but the payoff was a little too short-lived and half-assed. If you ever come across this film, do yourself a favor -- skip it.

Author Information

FrighT MasteR's picture
FrighT MasteR is an avid horror fan / monster hunter extraordinaire, who created and has been running UHM since its inception, way back in 1999.




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