A couple (who tell someone that they are brother and sister for some unknown reason that is never explained) riding bikes across the country end up camping out in the backwoods of Kentucky. They end up saving a little girl who happens to need medical attention outside their tent and her father takes them to his home where he provides dinner for them to show his appreciation for helping his kid. Once there they realize that he has a mentally handicapped son named William who enjoys biting the heads off of chickens and attacking women who remind him of his deceased mother. It isn’t long before something sets William off and he attacks the couple, wanting nothing more than to rip both of them to pieces. Will they survive or will this be the last biking trip either one of them ever take?
Backwoods is your typical “city folks being terrorized by a mentally unstable redneck in the middle of nowhere” movie that brings pretty much nothing new to the table. I am a little offended that it takes place in Kentucky (where I am from) and it makes the entire state look like it is nothing but a bunch of woods and back roads inhabited by a bunch of backward ass, uneducated hillbillies who spend their days drinking moonshine, hunting, and raising chickens (believe it or not this is just a stereotype a some of us from Kentucky can actually read, write, and do other things that people from the rest of the country can do). I went into the movie hoping for the best and while it wasn’t one of the greatest movies I have ever seen I didn’t hate it despite the fact that it had many flaws. As a matter of fact I actually found myself really getting into it at times, and in the end I would actually go so far as to say that I actually sort of liked it. Would I watch it again? Probably not by choice, but I wouldn’t be absolutely miserable if I had to sit through it again either.
As most people know I am a sucker for these types of movies. I grew up on a steady diet of similar films and as such they will always hold a special place in my heart. I had never actually seen Backwoods until last night, but I do remember seeing it at the video store in the late 80’s. I never picked it up because I assumed it was just a rip-off of movies such as Just Before Dawn, The Prey, The Final Terrorand countless others, and I was right for the most part. What makes this film different from the others though (and not in a good way) is the fact that it has a very low body count (the “deranged” killer actually ends up taking out only one person!), and very little gore. I don’t know if the filmmakers just couldn’t find people to be in the movie or what, but casting a few others just to basically be fodder for the killer would have been a major improvement. It is hard for me to really enjoy a movie that is supposed to be a slasher flick when no one dies in a horrible and violent way at the hands of the killer (one person does but it is off screen and we only see the aftermath of the attack!) and the body count is relatively non-existent. Imagine watching a Halloween or Friday the 13th movie where only one person dies off screen!
I also had a very hard time really caring about any of the characters. Jamie (Brad Armacost) is an annoying, condescending prick who enjoys talking down to others when he isn’t running from his own shadow (plus his voice is beyond irritating). This guy is as about as tough and manly as Pee-Wee Herman, and I couldn’t wait to see William split his skull open (which never happened, sadly). Karen (Christine Noonan) is one of the dumbest characters to ever appear in a horror film (she peeks into the hut where William is kept and is surprised when he grabs her, she knows female nudity gets him all worked up yet she takes her shirt off outside, she ignores the park ranger’s warnings, etc) and I just had a hard time rooting for her in general once William is chasing her through the woods. William (who looks a lot like Mick Foley) is your basic dangerous mentally handicapped redneck, and there is nothing special about his cookie-cutter hillbilly sister and father (though the dad actually has a little more depth to him than any other character in the movie and really isn’t a bad guy). Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed at all with any of the main characters and really didn’t care if they lived or died.
It may sound like I didn’t like Backwoods, but I really did. Yes, the body count sucked, I didn’t really like any of the characters, some scenes were way too dark, there was a serious lack of blood and guts, and the surprise at the end was cheesy, stupid, and just ridiculous in general, but I actually liked the movie in general for some unknown reason. For some reason that I just can’t explain some horror films (especially slasher flicks) have always made me feel warm, happy and cozy, and that was the case with Backwoods. It isn’t a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but at the same time I would recommend that you check it out if you are a fan of the horror films from the 1980’s.