Back Woods (2001)
By: Mark Nichols on December 5, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Terror Vision (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 71 minutes
The Movie
Director: Grant Woodhill
Starring: David C. Hayes, Anna Shemeikka, Jim Edberg, Patrick Hazen
Screenplay: David C. Hayes
Tagline: Dark, Demented and Obnoxious!
Country: USA
Back Woods begins with hand-held polarised footage of a forest with slowed down and boring dialogue telling the story of a man born to be known as 'Mangina' who swears to commit his soul upon dying to haunt the back woods forever to those who enter. This introduction seems to take forever. Mangina is a naked man wearing a goofy mask who has his penis tucked between his legs, making it look like he has a hairy vagina. He wriggles around and hams it up for the camera while the voice over continues. Funny huh?

Next we see Zeke (David Hayes) screwing Lou Anne (Jim Edberg wearing a dress and bad wig) against a tree in the woods. Abandoned by Zeke when she suggests that she is now pregnant, she is struck down by the spirit of Mangina and collapses.

Thirty years later she gives birth to a fully-grown 300-pound man who is perfectly shaven with a trimmed goatee beard (David Hayes again). "I'll name you Luther, after Gene Hackman!" Lou Anne declares in a rare moment of funny dialogue. Luther explains that he is an evil genius who has waited and planned for thirty years before unleashing himself unto the world with his plans for world domination.

Mummy wants to make baby more comfortable and gently lifts his head, but slips. Luther hits his head on a pipe and becomes a brain damaged blubbering idiot. Shortly after, a car full of teenagers runs down Lou Anne and Luther begins a violent rampage of revenge.

This is one of those "Hey! Lets get a group of friends together and make a video, it'll be fun!" straight to DVD releases. It is very obvious that everyone involved had a great time making this. It is also obvious they believed everything being said and done was absolutely hilarious also, to the extent that sometimes you can even hear the person videoing the scene giggling behind camera during some shots.

The special effects are incredibly bad. To look pregnant, Lou Anne wears a backpack back-to-front to create a swollen stomach. No attempt is made to conceal the large, noticeable straps on both arms falling out from beneath her dress. (However, points for attempting to create Luther's bloody head slowly protruding from his Mother's anus during the birth scene!). Heads that are chopped off or squashed by tyres appear to be the same prop with a core that pops out on impact with a wig plopped on top (that ultimately falls off). The body of a man beaten to death by a snow shovel is simply a stuffed shirt/trousers devoid of head, hands and shoes being repeatedly being bashed in slow motion. Don't get me wrong, I am more than willing to enjoy bad movie props and special effects when budget is restrictive, but I first made similar dummies in my backyard home movies when I was ten!

David Hayes really gets into his role as Luther and is obviously enjoying every second. But the actor's often ad-lib and it is only sometimes funny. The whole team that put this together have plenty of spirit, but the script is under-written beyond its basic premise and under-directed. Too often the actors are left to 'do their own thing' or look directly into camera.

In fact, every aspect of this film is just plain awful, except for the beautiful breasts of Mandy (played by Anna Schmeiekka - a pseudonym?). But even this is spoiled when the story is interrupted by Patrick Hazen smugly introducing himself as the actor playing the role of Johnny and Back Woods video editor to explain why the next scene is missing in a 'joke' that is not even funny.

Once the predictable ending occurs, the whole video is shown in reverse fast motion and stops at supposedly memorable quotes. The reverse continues to before the beginning of the video, showing Patrick Hazen sitting with his girlfriend 'Anna Schmeiekka' and someone else I could not recognise sitting on a couch conceiving the project. An awful and unfortunately pretentious second-to-last scene for something marketing itself as a trash / gore film. Ending the film with a freeze frame on Anna's sumptuously perfect breasts was wise because it is the best scene in the whole video.
Camerawork is extremely shaky and the sound of footsteps on crunchy leaves from the person filming is audible. Often the lens is dirty. All scenes have been filmed with auto-iris on, making some scenes over / under exposed and even change in one shot. The computer text titles are poor quality and flicker. Almost every style of digital transition has been used in the editing, as though discovered for the first time: iris open, page turn, clock face and zigzag - just to name a few.
Stereo only. During the entire video there is a loud audio buzz. All location sound sounds like it has been recorded from the microphone on the camera because the sound of camera adjustments can be heard.
Extra Features
Chapter Selection, and DVD ROM content that contains a link to . WOW!!
The Verdict
Hilarious to those involved as 'a bit of fun' and possibly to a few others who like simple, uncomplicated humour. The only thing audiences have to gain from watching this moronic, amateur American home video is that somehow it got distribution. If Back Woods can get distribution let us hope it will inspire low budget video/film makers in Australia who have a much better script written to go out and make their dream project come true.
Movie Score
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