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  Don't Panic Because The Night (Clothes)
Year: 1988
Director: Rubén Galindo Jr
Stars: Jon Michael Bischof, Gabriela Hassel, Helena Rojo, Jorge Luke, Juan Ignacio Aranda, Eduardo Noriega, Roberto Palazuelos, Raúl Araiza, Edna Bolkan, Evangelina Elizondo, Melinda McCallum, Cecilia Tijerina, Mario Iván Martínez, Lucho Gatica
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Michael (Jon Michael Bischof) has just enjoyed his birthday party, his first in his new home of Mexico City, and if he's being honest with himself he's glad for it to be over. His mother is upstairs, drinking again, and she calls down to him to ask if everyone has left, but while he answers in the affirmative he doesn't realise that he is not alone after all. As the lights are turned off he is jumped by a shadowy figure, there is a struggle and they both collapse to the floor - but it's all right, as his friends have simply been hiding for one last birthday treat. But that treat is a ouija board...

And we all know what happens if you get involved with ouija boards in horror movies, don't we? How strange that what started out as a parlour game on the cusp of the twentieth century should go on to have such dread associated with it, but as long as the participants believe that it is not their subconscious but supernatural forces moving the planchette around, the trepidation they hold will likely never die away. Unlike the characters in this film, a Mexican effort masquerading unconvincingly as American product, but with too many giveaways as to its origins to fool many, dubbed dialogue notwithstanding.

The Mexican horror movies of the eighties and early nineties were not exactly the kind of thing to give Guillermo del Toro sleepless nights in the main, and you were more likely to see them on the burgeoning video market that in a cinema, but for many they had a certain trashy verve that made them quite amusing, if not exactly terrifying. In this case our hero falls prey to a demon named Virgil, not the Thunderbirds puppet but an alias, if it is to be believed, for Satan himself. He doesn't do much at the ouija board session, but we know he's there because the planchette moves when no one is touching it, and soon we are plunged into a slasher flick.

With effects by Screaming Mad George no less, a name familiar to fans of this era's shockers, but not really representing his finest work as much like the rest of this it tends towards the derivative. Michael finds himself suffering dizzy spells where his eyes turn bright red and see visions of his mates being stabbed to death with a ceremonial dagger, and being a bright boy suspects that something is up. To make matters worse, this jeopardises his budding romance with Alexandra (Gabriela Hassel, bravely sporting a monobrow that no Hollywood production would tolerate), which is not surprising when he begins to try to stop Virgil from bumping people off for the heinous crime of asking a ouija board who Michael fancied (the product placement is really more heinous).

Of course, that's not necessarily the most memorable aspect of Don't Panic, which was nothing to do with The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy, and more to do with Michael's nightwear. For reasons best known to himself, he spends a good half of the movie dressed in tight-fitting blue and white pajamas with a dinosaur design emblazoned across the front, not the most obvious choice for a seventeen-year-old, and even less obvious a choice to head off outside in. Bizarrely, he decides to save one potential victim, a nurse, by cycling to the hospital in his jim-jams - wouldn't it have been more sensible to change into your clothes beforehand? No wonder nobody takes him seriously until it's too late. As if that were not bad enough, he is also kidnapped while wearing them by the enthusiastic swearer John (Roberto Palazuelos), the local bully who is under threat as well. These examples of lunacy offer a texture to the proceedings that production line junk from North of the Border do not have, not a good thing maybe, but good for a laugh. Bischof did the music, too.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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