Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Don't Go Near The Park

Lawrence Foldes was just 19 years old when he directed, produced, and co-wrote DON’T GO NEAR THE PARK, a confusing, ambitious, rambling, and inept gore pic, in the Los Angeles area, primarily the old Paramount ranch and Griffith Park.

It opens "12,000 years ago" with two caveperson siblings being stricken by a curse that dooms them to a life of immortality. To remain young-looking, they kill teenagers and chomp on their entrails to drain their youth. The only way the two can ever die is if one has a female child and sacrifices her on her 16th birthday.

Gar ("Crackers Phinn," a nom de plume for Robert Gribbin, who was okay using his real name in TEEN LUST, HITCHHIKE TO HELL, and TRIP WITH THE TEACHER, which should tell you something about DON’T GO NEAR THE PARK) makes it happen by stalking a cute blonde (Linnea Quigley) and mesmerizing her into marriage. Gar’s devotion to their daughter Bondi (Tamara Taylor) earns Linnea's resentment, and a fight between the parents spurs Bondi to run away from home on her 16th birthday.

Surviving a rape attempt by potheads in a shitty custom van by using the power of The Force locked inside her magic amulet to explode the van, Bondi ends up at an abandoned cabin hidden inside Griffith Park, where dozens of children have gone missing over the centuries. The cabin's only inhabitants are Nick (Meeno Peluce from TV's VOYAGERS wearing a Wacky Packages T-shirt), a wiseass 10-year-old; Cowboy (Chris Riley), a wimpy teen; and—coincidentally—Gar's sister Tre.

Tre, usually seen in a gray wig and an eyepatch, is played by a pseudonymous actress named "Barbara Monker." Foldes claims Monker is actually Barbara Bain, the Emmy-winning co-star of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE and SPACE: 1999, but she clearly isn’t. I don’t know whether Foldes is mistaken or lying (moderator David Gregory inexplicably doesn’t challenge Foldes’ assertion on the Dark Sky DVD’s commentary track), but there’s no doubt that Barbara Monker is not Barbara Bain.

Aldo Ray, a former Academy Award nominee on hard times, pops up briefly as an investigative reporter looking into the mysterious Griffith Park deaths who tries to rescue Nick from his homelessness. More murders occur until the far-out climax inside Bronson Caverns that includes zombies, fire, eye lasers (!), and more ridiculousness. And it’s all based on actual events, according to the film’s opening card!

It's pretty obvious that Foldes and his co-writer Linwood Chase had no idea what they were doing when they snapped this picture together. Making sense of the story is a fool’s errand. Trying to determine why Aldo Ray is in this movie is a fool’s errand. The only thing that’s crystal-clear about DON’T GO NEAR THE PARK is the reason a young, imaginative, but untalented Foldes was handed $100,000 to make this movie: rich parents.

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