Don't Go Near the Park (1981)

Author: Josh G.
Submitted by: Josh G.   Date : 2008-03-20 13:38

Directed by: Lawrence D. Foldes
Written by: Linwood Chase
Starring: Tamara Taylor, Crackers Phinn and Linnea Quigley

Reviewed by: Josh G.

Holy Linnea! Before she was a teacher-charmer in Graduation Day, an antelope-lover in Silent Night, Deadly Night, and a possessed demon in Night of the Demons, famed Scream Queen Linnea Quigley appeared in some lesser known titles; one of them being Donít Go Near the Park. Part of me feels bad that she had to add this feature to the long list of horror films that she has acted in. And yet, another part of me doesnít feel any remorse. Why? Because this notorious movie made her acting abilities look like pure gold!

12, 000 years ago, Tra and Gar (Barbara Monker and Crackers Phinn), two cave people, are condemned by their mother to eternal aging, but not death. The two have been told that in 12, 000 years, a virgin who is a descendant of the tribe must by sacrificed, so that the two can have eternal life and youth without killing anymore. Shouting in denial, Tra yells out ďBut weíre your children!Ē. The old mother, however, disappears in a swarm of smoke. Itís now sixteen years before the present, and a boy is going fishing by the lake. A middle-aged looking Gar comes up from behind the kid, and chokes him. Dragging the teenager into the woods, Gar tears open his chest and continues to munch down on his innards. This is what he and Tra must do to stay youthful.

Gar goes searching for a woman that Tra can steal youth from at a parade. He spots a lady (Linnea Quigley), and stands behind her. She walks away, back to her house, and he follows. While the woman is in the shower, Gar walks in. She is startled, but he tells her that he just wants to rent a room. She accepts Garís proposal, who is now going by the name Mark. Meanwhile, a girl (Cambra Foldes) chases after her dog Starshine into a hay barn. She accidentally steps on a trap, which catches her leg. She screams in agony as the blood seeps from her foot. But all is okay. Tra has come to save her. Ripping out the girlís stomach, Tra, now called Patty, regains her youth.

Linnea snoops around in Markís room, and finds a pipe and newspaper article, with the headlines Child Lost Again. She looks around, and Mark is staring right at her! She screams, but begins to take off her gown. Cut to her and Markís wedding, where the two exchange merry vows. All look happy - except for Patty, whose old face stares menacingly at the couple. Markís wife gives birth to a baby girl, Bondi, and has her blessed at the church. Mark starts to spend all of his time with the child, ignoring his wife. His wife obtains great jealousy, and by the time of Bondiís sixteenth birthday (played by Tamara Taylor), she threatens to leave. Bondi canít take the fighting anymore, and runs away from home.

On the way to nowhere, a van of three men pulls up beside Bondi, and one of them offers her a lift. The intentions of these men are soon realised when two of them attempt to rape poor Bondi. Calling for her daddy, tears streaming down her face, the van mysteriously swerves out of control, and drives off of a bridge, exploding. Bondi is unharmed. Walking around, Bondi stumbles upon a big house in Griffith Park. Patty walks out, frightening Bondi, but bringing no harm to her. She offers for her to come inside and lie down on the couch. She meets a young runaway kid, Nick (Meeno Peluce), and a handsome, teenaged boy, about the same age as her, ĎCowboyí (Chris Riley). None of the children know what is in store for them, but they will soon find out, as the grand feast of them all is coming near. The virgin, Bondi, will have to die!

Oh dear. What a mess, in case you didnít read the plot. This gory video nasty isnít quite what one would expect a video nasty to be. The extended footage is on the verge of disgusting, but the R-rated US theatrical cut, with a few disembowellings, gross as it is, is nothing to fuss over. Cheesy music, bad acting, and an incomprehensible storyline about lusting vampires, it seems as though this is an obvious trip to the land of Ďmovies that should never have been madeí. I suppose thatís correct. This film serves no purpose other than to showcase Linneaís body, gruesomely fake stomach tearings, and overacting by Monker as Tra. To input any further information on why this film is so bad is kind of pointless with the previous four paragraphs fully intact.

While the whole film made me laugh, it was the foolish, yet loveable ending which made me giggle into hysterics. What a twist! And oh-so 70s twist. Other highlights of the laugh gas include Mark, the creepy male youth-stealer who has an intense staring contest with Linneaís character. Think Angela Baker of Sleepaway Camp, but without the editing talent. Bondi has a dream about Tra and Gar 12, 000 years previous, when they were confronting their mother about their damnation. Then Bondi walks over to some coffins, still in her dream, and opens them up. After the first coffin contained an undead vampire who tried to pull her inside, she walks over to another one, and opens it. Talk about stubborn! In the final coffin, she is pulled in once again, except this time, nothingís holding onto her. As she falls into the coffin, which is a pit of blackness, you can see, basically, picture cut-outs rotating, with them getting smaller and smaller as it appears she (or the paper) is falling into the dark pit. You know you have a budget when...

Overall, the characters were not irritating. If anything, the badness of this flick actually enhanced their likability. Cowboy, Nick, Bondi, Bondiís mother, and even Patty had something special about them that made you want to see them more. Bondi is a sweet, innocent child, and her mother is pitied after Mark ignores her. Nick is a funny little kid, who shockingly, doesnít become one of those regular brats you see in horror movies, who you know isnít going to die, but you still cross your fingers, just incase. Cowboyís good looks and charm make him a scene stealer, if youíre into that kind of thing. However, I just donít buy that heís into Bondi. Heís supposed to be her love interest, but the questioning of his sexuality comes up. Probably more so of the actor than the character. Thereís just a slight distinction in his voice that could swing either way. I donít know. Perhaps Iím looking too deep into it, but he certainly doesnít seem to be all there for Bondi.

A great horror aspect of Donít Go Near the Park is the use of demonic masks. Patty uses them when she feasts on those who will give her youth. Thereís quite a beautiful photography in this film too. Not that it deserves it, but itís well done. The scenes involving the mutilation of the fishing boy, Bondiís sixteenth birthday, an attack in the barn, and the creepy old house really adds to the look and feel of the time it was made. Iíd say it has more reason to thank the exploitation films of the 70s, rather than any other era. Itís exploiting blood and a wacky story, with offbeat actors all around. Isnít that what exploitations are made of? Dark Sky Films presents a beautiful, restored widescreen presentation of this nasty, but fun feature, with an audio commentary by the director and Linnea Quigley! Itís a shame that Park isnít presented with its deleted scenes. Thereís a TV spot, two theatrical trailers, a photo gallery, gore outtakes, and as Iíve said, extended and deleted scenes. It packs quite a punch. Those who have to have their movies be good in order to watch them, take note: stay away from this turd. If you can enjoy terrible productions, then Iíd say go for it. To see how not to make a movie, and have an entertaining, riot of a bad film, you should watch it at least once. Youíll have a ball. Watch out for the changing colors of Pattyís hair - in stop motion! Rent it!

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