Don’t Panic (Dimensiones Ocultas)

June 5, 2010 at 6:52 am (7 Heads, Don't Panic) (, , , , )

Don’t Panic – 1988 – Mexico

“There’s a door that takes you to another dimension. Once you step through it, there’s no return. I’ve already crossed it.” So opens Don’t Panic, a Mexican horror movie by the prolific Ruben Galindo Jr. (Don’t Panic’s main character watches Galindo’s Cemetery of Terror on TV even). I saw the English dub, which I suspect has an uncredited role by Cam Clarke (Max Sterling from Robotech). Since Don’t Panic’s weirdness defies description, I’m having trouble starting this review, so let’s just dive in…

Here’s the gist: A teenager fooling with an Ouija board is possessed by a serial killer (or possibly Satan himself) and murders his friends. Another teen—a kind-hearted psychic whose eyes turn red during clairvoyant visions—tries to stop him. But that just scratches the surface of this beautiful mess. There are subplots about an alcoholic mom and absentee dad, bullies, and young love (interestingly, the lead girl is a total dog). Parts are like an after school special, minus the morality—these high schoolers drink, have sex, shoot guns, and say “fuck” (though the psychic wears childrens’ dinosaur PJs through half the movie). Don’t Panic is a convolution of teen drama and supernatural horror, missing any logic or consistency, to the point where the dialogue often references events that never happened—perhaps scenes left on the cutting room floor?

But that’s not why we watch these movies (why do we watch these movies?). An ambiguity of tone aside, at its core, Don’t Panic is slasher movie and there are plenty of horrific bits—eerie hallucinations (including a cool effect where a face stretches from a TV screen), stabbings, and Freddy Kruger-esque monster makeup. Screaming Mad George (look him up if you don’t know) did the competent effects, but I feel like he phoned some of it in.

Filled with slasher/possession tropes, Don’t Panic is cheesy, but I respect how seriously it takes itself. Never is the ludicrous premise played for laughs and the young cast works endearingly hard. Somehow, this stupid movie has a soul that so many teen horror flicks (especially Galindo’s) lack. And Don’t Panic is a pretty compelling name too.

Rating: 7/10 Shrunken Heads. Don’t Panic is a confusing, sloppy, derivative mess. But it’s not boring. A good example of the “kitchen sink” approach done right.

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