Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 13th, 2006
Release Date: USA, 1979
Director: Lawrence D. Foldes
Writers: Linwood Chase, Lawrence D. Foldes
Cast: Aldo Ray, Meeno Peluce, Tamara Taylor, Crackers Phinn, Linnea Quigley, Chris Riley
DVD released: April 25th, 2006
Approximate running time: 84 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital mono
DVD Release: Dark Sky Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.95
12,000 years ago two prehistoric tribesmen Tra (Barbara Monker) and Gar (Crackers Phinn) have found out the secret to obtaining immortality through cannibalism of youth. The tribes’ elder puts a curse on them that can only be lifted if Gar has a child with a mortal woman and then the virgin child must be sacrificed during the lunar eclipse which only happens every 12,000 years. Gar meets a woman who he marries and they have a daughter which they name Bondi. Now that everything has fallen into place Tra and Gar have only to wait until the lunar eclipse happens and then they shall be free of the curse that ages them and they will be able to live forever young.
Lawrence D. Foldes, Don’t go near the Park has gained a notorious reputation not only for being one of thirty nine films banned as part of Britain’s video nasty’s, but also because it is one of those films that really defies all the rules of good filmmaking. The films special effects are primitive in design as jump cuts are obvious as Tra and Gar feed on their victims that in return bring back their youthful appearance. Lawrence D. Foldes’ direction is pretty standard with a few moments of virtuosity that feels out of place.
The films first thirty minutes move by quickly and they also contain the films most gory moments. The final hour the pace slows down as we are treated to endless scenes of three runaways Bondi, Cowboy and Nick as they interact with each other. None of this really leads to anything that ultimately advances the story. Most of it feels like padding and your typical teenage stuff. One character who is conspicuously missing during most of the final hour is Bondi’s father Mark (Gar) who before she runs away from home is with her almost every moment. His love for her seems genuine which left me wondering why he didn’t even try to look for his missing daughter. When he does finally re-emerge it is just in time for his daughters sacrifice.
Near the end of the film zombies appear and by this point it is too little to late as the film has already worn out its welcome. The films’ ending is kind of clever and I have to admit I didn’t see it coming. Scream Queen Linnea Quigley makes her feature film debut in Don’t go near the Park as Bondi’s mother and it is a shame she wasn’t given more screen time.
Don’t go near the Park is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original aspect ratio. After years of getting doggy release Dark Skies finally gives this film the transfer it always deserved. The colors look vivid and flesh tones look accurate. The black levels are solid and details look exceptional sharp through out. There are few instances when the image does look a bit off during a few of the night time scenes that look like they were day for night shots. Overall the image is free of any print defects and looks remarkable considering the films low budget origins.
This release comes with only one audio option the films original mono soundtrack in English. Dialog is easy to follow and the music and effects sound evenly balanced. There are no problems with hiss, distortion or any other sound defects. Removable English subtitles have been included that are easy to read and follow.
Extras for this release include a T.V. Spot and two trailers one in English and the other in Spanish. Also included for this release is a photo gallery and outtakes form some of the films gorier moments. Other extras include twenty seven minutes of deleted/extended footage from the film. Most of the trimmed and deleted footage while interesting deserves to remain on the cutting room floor. Rounding out the extras in an audio commentary with Lawrence D. Foldes (Director), Linnea Quigley (Actress) and this extra is moderated by David Gregory. Linnea Quigley has very little to say as she while Lawrence D. Foldes bulldozes through the audio commentary with plenty of background detail on the various actors/actresses who starred in the film and the origins of the films story.
Overall Don’t go near the Park is one of the greatest examples of how a good premise can turn out of so wrong and Dark Skies special edition DVD is worth buying if just for the excellent audio commentary that comes with this release.
For more information about Don’t go near the Park and other titles released by Dark Sky Films visit their website.