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WEIRDO FLICKS: 'Evil in the Woods'

by Eli Kroes

You might not be familiar with the term 'Z-Movie,' but if you grew up in the 90's, chances are you've seen one. They're the beyond-low-budget monstrosities that teased you from the walls of the mom-and-pop video store. Usually, the films themselves could never live up to the pictures on the videotape boxes (because this was way before your fancy 'Digital Video Discs' and 'Blu-Rays') but occasionally you'd find something truly unique. 'WEIRDO FLICKS' will clue you into some movies which 'unique' doesn't even begin to describe... 

'Evil in the Woods' - 1986, Directed by William J. Oates

You KNOW a film is going to be idiosyncratic when there's one guy as the writer, director AND producer. What we've got here is a knowingly-silly horror-comedy that's also UN-knowingly awful. It's like double-dramatic irony times nine. THEY think the joke's on you, but it's really on them, but it's actually on you for sitting through this thing.

Perhaps the strangest part of the film is that it's ambitiously complex for a homemade horror flick. I mean, this thing's got more story strands than 'Magnolia.' It's also a story-within-a-story-within-a-story. Actually, 3 stories-within-a-story-within-a-story...or something like that.

The film starts off with a young boy named Billy checking out a book called 'Evil in the Woods' from his local library. He's exceptionally rude to the librarian, and the book is clearly not made for children. As he's reading it, a hillbilly narrator jumps in and we cut to the a few of the book's stories. One is about a film crew making a horror movie in some woods that are actually filled with evil. THAT story cuts awkwardly between THEIR film and the real-life evil. 

Then, there's a story about a boy named Billy (played by the same actor as the book-reading Billy) going camping with his family...he too wanders into the evil woods and gets lost. He stumbles upon an inbred family in a cabin which apparently is the 'evil in the woods.' The mother of the family cooks him into stew (which takes like 3 days) and eats him, and then becomes young again.

I won't 'ruin' anymore of the plot for you, but suffice to say it just keeps going from there. Oh yeah, and in REAL life, the kid reading the book has some kind of evil in his closet, but it's only mentioned a couple times. Also, the second half of the film COMPLETELY neglects to cut back to the kid reading, so that becomes an obsolete plot arc as well. Whatever.

I love this kind of movie, and had a good laugh at all the confusion and bad acting. Not an hour and a half I regret. At least, not yet...

Apparently this is the only version of the film in print right now. There's not even a trailer on YouTube...just this:

VHS photo by Toby Hudson.