2019 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 30: Don’t Panic (1988)

DAY 30. IT’S YOUR SPECIAL DAY: Brutal birthdays.

It appears like director and screenwriter Ruben Galindo Jr. wanted to make his own version of A Nightmare On Elm Street but somewhere along the way he decided to he’d like to make a Mexican version of an American teen sitcom, too. Honestly, if you told me Ruben came from another dimension, I’d believe you just as much. This is one of the strangest movies I’ve ever seen — I’ve watched it three times just to try and get my thoughts together — and if you take a look through the films on our site, you can see that that is no idle boast.

Our hero Michael is going through some stuff. His parents are fighting so much that his dad sends him and his mom to Mexico City, where his mother decides to drink herself into oblivion. While trying to fit into his new school, he turns seventeen and his frien Tony gives him a Ouija board.

Now, unbeknowst to us, the viewers, Michael and Tony had a past session go wrong with a Ouija board, so this really was a bad idea. Virgil — what a name for a slasher villain — is released and begins killing people.

Now, up until this point in the film, this has felt like a teen coming of age movie, filtered through the lens of a Mexican filmmaker trying to create a movie that would make sense for American audiences. But just like how huge chunks of The Last American Virgin seem to make no sense to Western eyes, this movie also feels like it was beamed down directly from space.

How else do you explain the fact that our hero — who appears to be in his late 20’s playing a high schooler — wears dinosaur pajamas for nearly the entire film? This isn’t some Troma movie trying to play it all for laughs. This is a serious movie with such lunacy inside it that you can’t take it seriously.

It does, however, have awesome special effects courtesy of Screaming Mad George, including a face that emerges from a TV years before The Ring and huge chunks of gore, like a person stabbing through the chin and the blade emerging inside their mouth.

This film was a total surprise and delight to me. I’m shocked that Mondo Macabro or Severin hasn’t picked this up yet, because this is the kind of movie that would sell for them. I found it heartwarming just how insane and inane and odd this all was. Now pardon me, I’m about to watch this movie for the fourth time.

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