Saturday, March 19, 2011

Don't Panic (1988)

Forget Freddie and Jason. Virgil's the newest nightmare in town.

Yes, Don’t Panic sets the bar high (or low, depend how you see it) and to be fair, it’s a lot better and entertaining than the rumour says. When I first saw it some years ago I wasn’t especially impressed. I found it boring and way over its head in trying to do a serious horror movie. But after all the thousands of movies I’ve seen, it’s actually just a typical eighties horror movie, just with a way lower budget than usual, uglier hair cuts and a pyjamas that defines ugliness.

After some horny Mexican teens play with an Ouija board, they resurrect an evil demon called Virgil! He possesses one of the boys and starts to stalk the curly-haired hero of our movie, Michael (Jon Michael Bischof). Of course no one believes him, not even his alcoholic mother or those who sees the red eyes he gets when Virgil is in killer-mode. Anyway, Virgil goes after everyone that was present when the Ouija board-incident happen with a big shiny knife!

In short this is a Mexican version of A Nightmare on Elm Street, kinda, maybe a bit more of ANOES part 2 (but very straight-safe) plus a healthy dose of The Eyes of Laura Mars. What I appreciate here, even if I love the Freddy Krueger-character, is that Virgil is a serious dude. No jokes, no slapstick. Just killing teens with a big knife. Jon Michael Bischof is not bad in the lead, but he’s the only one carrying the movie too. None of the other actors are really worth watching. The effects aren’t that bad, and quite bloody and Ruben Galindo Jr makes the movie work despite a very weak script.

The truth is, and it’s obvious, that the reason why the movie has a bad reputation is that it’s VERY outdated in fashion, music and a also sports a very naive look at teenagers. I mean, poor Michael is running around in a pyjamas who look like something a five year old could wear, only made for someone close to seventeen.

And because I’m a gentleman I won’t even mention the eyebrows of Gabriela Hassel. Oups, I did it anyway. Darn.

If you can look beyond the mega-cheesiness and the infamous Michael-goes-rampage in his room-scene, this is a decent entry into the eighties horror legacy. Ruben Galindo Jr is one of my favourite exploitation directors, and I can recommend everything horror-related he’s directed. But be prepared for something very cheesy.


raculfright_13 said...

Saw this in 35mm at Cinefamily last October. The audience kept laughing at the pajamas and Gabriela Hassel's eyebrows. It was great. Very great!

Alex B. said...

OMG, films like that get screened in 35mm...we truly live in the age of wonders.