He Likes Their Hair – Backwoods (1987)

As soon as the film starts and Dick Kreusser’s raspy voice begins singing without any accompanying music, it sets an ominous tone for what is to follow. That being said, it does take a little while to get going, but there is a noticeable suspenseful build and when that third act hits and the horror comes more into focus, it makes that wait worth the while.

To be fair, there is nothing in this movie that people have not seen before and though it all tends to be a little cliche at times, director Dean Crow still manages to make it all work, letting the horror manifest in a very natural progression. The story concerns a man and his wife who go camping and who come across a young girl that is hurt. They are soon confronted by a man named Eben who thanks them for helping his daughter and insists that they accompany him back to his place for a hot meal. From there, things tend to get a little strange, what with the way Eben phrases and talks about things and finally when Karen as played by Christine Noonan runs into his mentally handicapped son named William who is just a little more than aggressive. Audiences can easily imagine where this film is headed and it soon comes down to William chasing Karen through the woods in a situation that can only be called life or death.

Mountaintop hillbillies and inexperienced campers always make for a good film and Backwoods is no exception. The budget on this film might have been non-existent and the actors and actresses no one anybody has ever heard of, but everything comes together well – the performances believable and the horror of William’s obsession a frightening reality. It is a little cheesy at times and very obviously from the eighties, yet the atmosphere is always slightly claustrophobic, like there is nowhere for the characters to go if they should want to escape what they are about to find themselves in.  Kreusser and Jack O’Hara as William steal the show more than anybody and the while there is not a large amount of violence or blood throughout, the two of them more than make up for it with their portrayal of father and son.

Altogether Backwoods, or Geek as it is also known, would not be the last of its kind, the genre getting a good workout in the years to come, but it is worth a look just to see one of the better examples available.

3 out of 5

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