Home | Film Reviews | Film Review: Don’t Panic (1988)

Film Review: Don’t Panic (1988)

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SYNOPSIS:

A group of teens are stalked and killed by an evil spirit (named Virgil no less) after messing around with an Ouija board.

REVIEW:

I didn’t know anything about Don’t Panic before I watched it recently. As a matter of fact I hadn’t even heard of it (which is weird since it is an 80’s slasher flick, which is my area of expertise). I thought that it sounded like it had potential to be pretty good so I went into it with high hopes that I was about to enjoy a real gem that I had somehow missed seeing over the years. Unfortunately I was wrong and I ended up walking away feeling pretty disappointed.

Don’t Panic basically wants desperately to be A Nightmare on Elm Street but it can’t quite pull it off. It borrows (or should I say steals) heavily from that franchise but instead of a cool movie with an awesome villain we get a watered down slasher flick with a lame killer named Virgil (Virgil? Were all the good names taken?). The script is pretty poorly written and all over the place, the acting is atrocious, the characters are silly and unlikable, and the movie itself is just plain boring (and cheesy as hell). I had a lot of trouble really getting into it and spent the biggest majority of the time that I spent watching it wishing that it would hurry up and end so I could go on to bigger and better things. It wasn’t nearly as good as I was hoping that it would be and I think I understand now why I’d never heard of it before.

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One of the biggest problems that I had with the film was the fact that it was a giant cheese fest. I like corny horror films as much as the next guy but even I have my limits. The story behind Virgil is hokey (and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, what is he supposed to be anyway?), the dialogue is as about as corny as it gets, and there is a cheesy love story (involving a supposedly magic rose) that takes place between the main character and another character (who happens to have a unibrow) that is so bad it had me laughing out loud several times (just wait until you hear the score during the love scene as it is so horrible it is almost good). On top of all that our main character is a seventeen-year-old boy who runs around wearing children’s dinosaur pajamas for some unknown reason (he has them on in several scenes and I have no idea why the people responsible for this movie thought that this was a good idea as he looks ridiculous). On the plus side there is so much unintentional humor to be found here thanks to all the cheesy moments that take place that you’ll be laughing so hard that it helps take your mind off how bad the movie really is.

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Another huge issue is the fact that the characters are just plain bad. We have a dorky guy (who is dangerously close to having a curly mullet) as our main character and it is really hard to get behind him (did I mention that he has on little dinosaur pajamas that look like they were made for a six-year-old for most of the movie?). He has some sort of psychic link to Virgil and knows when people are going to die but of course no one believes him until it’s too late (the scene with him having a fit and trashing his room in frustration-all while wearing his dinosaur jammies- is priceless). It is very hard to picture him as the hero of anything and I think that it was a huge mistake to cast actor Jon Michael Bischof-who looks like a young Willie Ames- in the role as he is the opposite of anything close to heroic.

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Aside from him we get his love interest (who has a unibrow and a voice that could break glass) who tells him that she loves him after their first date. Then we have Virgil, who doesn’t really have a body so he takes up residence in the body of the first person that he kills (who happens to be the main character’s best friend). He walks around asking people if they believe in Satan and tries his best to be Freddy Krueger (spoiler alert, he doesn’t quite pull it off effectively). We also get other forgettable characters as well who are basically just fodder for Virgil (does anyone else think of the old wrestler who used to be The Million Dollar Man’s lackey in the WWF back in the day when I say his name or is it just me?) who don’t really add anything to the movie and to be honest I really don’t remember any of their names. Needless to say there are a lot of bad characters in this movie and I really didn’t care if any of them lived or died.

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Don’t Panic is a pretty bad movie by all accounts, but I have to recommend it just because I think that more people should see it just to see how bad it really is. It is one of those movies that is so bad that it is almost good and it is definitely a film that should be watched with a group of friends who are into terrible films. It is nearly impossible to take is seriously (especially the last 20 minutes or so) and is a classic example of 1980’s cheese at its best. Check it out if you have had a bad day and need a good laugh as it truly is (unintentionally) funny for the most part.

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