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Monday, November 22, 2010

Review: Don't Go Near The Park (1981)

Listen and take caution, my friends.  A bold disclaimer scrolls across the screen warning us, the hapless viewer, that Don't Go Near The Park is based on actual occurrences.  I’m sold immediately as the next scene reveals a caveman wearing flannel.  Then “16 years ago” a boy is seen fishing who suddenly gets attacked by an old man who rips his guts open.  The fiend greedily eats his entrails (what passes for FX brought to mind a refrain of “my insides have a first name, it’s O.S.C.A.R”) and then he awkwardly time-lapses back into youthfulness.  Rest assured, seems we are in for a doozie with this one!

Back in present day, we are introduced to what I will generously refer to as 'the plot'.  It seems that some 12,000 years ago, a brother and sister are cursed by their hagly mother for no other apparent reason than she’s just a bitter (and poorly make-upped) old bitch. They are sentenced to infernal damnation unless the brother can fertilize a willing virgin and surrender a daughter to sacrifice (by consuming her innards) when she turns 16.  If the doomed siblings can achieve this feat then they are awarded eternal life.  Ah, but of course.

In a series of disjointed, badly acted scenes we then see Linnea Quigley taking her first of what will be many cinematic showers; fall in love way too quickly with the ill-intentioned time traveling Neanderthal; give her precious flower to him; squeeze out a youngin’; and in the closest thing to a story arc, kick the daughter out after she grows tired of her cursed hubby showering her with all his affection.

Now here’s where things finally get interesting.  As 'Bondie' (Tamara Taylor) experiences life as a runaway, her chastity and her father’s fate both swing in the balance.  Lucky for her (and him) she wears a magical glowing amulet Daddy gave her which can apparently thwart rapists and obstruct brake pedals among other wonders.  Along her perilous travels she encounters two other young drifters (including an 8 year old who feels her up while sleeping, forcing her to exclaim “keep it in your pants, I’m sick of people trying to molest me.”) and we’re suddenly thrown into the dramatics of an after-school special sponsored by mescaline.  Not to even mention that whole 'Daddy's desire to consume his daughter before her cherry pops' subtext.  If there’s any higher power in the cosmos The Lifetime Channel will be optioning this shortly.

Think I’ve revealed too much?  Not even close.  We’re only about one-third of the way into this puppy and brother and sister still have more gut munching to do to preserve their youthful appearance; exploitation mainstay Aldo Ray enters the picture; we endure shaky-cam and flashbacks, pot smoking, creepy eye-patches, nightmares, dream sequences, transformations, splashes of gore, a stupefying zombie finale and all the bad acting, dialogue, editing, lighting, effects and soundwork you could ever ask for in a film about a park.  And I know you’ll never rest easy without discovering the fate of poor Bondie and her compatriots, either.  Absurd on so many levels that it becomes sublime, Don’t Go Near The Park is a “got to see it to believe it” offering that has Mystery Science Theater victim written all over it.  Kudos, Mr. Foldes.

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