DON’T PANIC (1987) Reviews and overview

 

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‘The real nightmare is just beginning!’

Don’t Panic is a 1987 Mexican supernatural slasher horror film about a young man that unwittingly unleashes evil forces via an Ouija board. Written and directed by Rubén Galindo Jr. (El psicópata asesinoResucitaré para matarlos; Grave Robbers; Cemetery of Terror).

The movie stars Jon Michael Bischof, Gabriela Hassel, Helena Rojo, Jorge Luke, Juan Ignacio Aranda, Eduardo Noriega, Roberto Palazuelos, Raúl Araiza, Edna Bolkan, Evangelina Elizondo, Mindie McCullum, Cecilia Tijerina, Mario Iván Martínez, Lucho Gatica, Humberto Elizondo.

Blu-ray release:

Vinegar Syndrome has released Don’t Panic on Blu-ray in a newly restored in 4K from its 35mm original negative and featuring both its English and Spanish language audio tracks. Additional info:

Region Free Blu-ray
Newly scanned & restored in 4k from its 35mm original negative
Includes both the original English and the dubbed Spanish language soundtracks
“Possessed by Horror” – an interview with director Rubén Galindo Jr.
Commentary track with director Rubén Galindo Jr.
Commentary track with The Hysteria Continues!
Alternate Spanish titles
Reversible cover artwork
English SDH subtitles

Plot:

On his seventeenth birthday, Michael is given an Ouija board by Tony, his best friend. At an Ouija session, Tony unwittingly unlocks the evil forces of the board.

Soon, there is a wave of violent killings and the chief suspect appears to be Michael. He has been witness to all the killings via premonitions and out of body experiences. Is Michael the killer? Can he prove his innocence or is someone else being possessed by the evil spirit?

Reviews:

“It’s amongst a very elite grouping of slashers that I consider to be perfect examples of their own kind of art. A balance of humor, horror and ineptitude that creates a symphony of trash cinema to the likes of which I am honored to experience again and again.” Atomic Caravan

“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.” B&S About Movies

” …this film is a mess. Its story is as vanilla as a bean, the characters are, by turns, stultifyingly bland and obnoxious, and the effects work floats along at about sea level.  And yet, there is an otherworldly dementia at play that makes it kind of enjoyable […] The film can’t really decide if it wants to be more of a domestic melodrama or a supernatural slasher (and in either capacity it’s a fairly rote, drab affair), so it splits the difference and gifts the audience with these surreal bits and character traits.” The Gentlemen’s Blog to Midnite Cinema

“Much like its American brethren, it’s nice to see that Mexican slashers hit all the same highs, lows, and laughs … Between the stabbings and throat slicing things are kept interesting by the lovely atmospheric score by Pedro Plascencia. It’s everything you want out of 80s horror…” Horror’s Not Dead

It’s also pleasingly sanguine, with some nice gore fx from 80’s supremo Screaming Mad George (a dagger blade shoved underneath through the chin of one unfortunate teen, and wiggling around messily in his mouth, is a standout). But it’s the over-the-top performances from the young (and not so young) cast that really makes this enjoyable (in a guilty pleasure type of way).” Hysteria Lives!

“Sure, the acting is sub-par and the (very) bad audio dub is practically laughable but I’ve seen much worse come out of the 80’s. Though the last bits of Don’t Panic are more than satisfying, the final confrontation between Michael and “Virgil”, sadly, isn’t anything to write home about.” Icons of Fright

“If you can look beyond the mega-cheesiness and the infamous Michael-goes-rampage in his room-scene, this is a decent entry into the eighties horror legacy. Ruben Galindo Jr is one of my favourite exploitation directors, and I can recommend everything horror-related he’s directed. But be prepared for something very cheesy.” Ninja Dixon

“Galindo could have taken the easy way out with Don’t Panic, patching together a serious, bloody, and ultimately forgettable slasher that may well have never made its way out of Mexico. But he didn’t. For he knew the secret to cinematic immortality: Demon faces fade into the ether, gruesome deaths dissipate into dust, but preposterous characters and dinosaur pyjamas will live forever.” Not Coming To a Theater Near You

“Devilishly stupid, Don’t Panic is ridiculous, fun and totally enjoyable. It’s overflowing with unintentionally hilarious scenes that elevate an indecipherable plot. Yes, it’s awful, but it’s the best kind of awful! If you’re looking for a “best worst” horror movie to watch this Halloween, forget Troll 2 and get your hands on Don’t Panic!” Pop Culture Beast

” …a great roller-coaster of cheesy thrills. Don’t Panic may be too campy to be scary, but it has been put together with thought and it adds supernatural touches to the age-old slasher clichés better than most. Yeah, I honestly recommend this and it rivals the extremely good (and from the same director) Grave Robbers from 1989.” A Slash Above…

“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…” The Spinning Image

Don't Panic 1987 Mexican horror movie film
How Don’t Panic looked on pan-and-scan VHS

“Even though he’s a teenager, our hero Michael decorates his room with race car posters and spends most of the film wearing dinosaur pajamas. Don’t Panic is pure goofy WTF cinema cheese. The kills are fairly graphic with their outpouring of raspberry-colored blood, but the film has a naivety and innocent stupidity keeping it from ever feeling sleazy.” Teenage Frankenstein

“When director Rueben Galindo Jr. is dishing out all kinds of head-scratching weirdness, Don’t Panic works.  It’s just too bad that the parts of the movie that doesn’t revolve around bizarre visions and/or people having a giant dagger stuck into them is so damned listless and dull. Michael’s hallucinations are well done for the most part and have a certain Elm Street quality about them.” The Video Vacuum

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Filming locations:

Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico

Original title:

Dimensiones ocultas

Alternate titles:

A Maldição de Ouija – Brazil
Virgil, la malédiction – France
Não Entre em Pânico – Portugal
El secreto de la ouija – Spain

Fun facts:

Features a scene from Galindo Jr.’s Cemetery of Terror playing on TV.

Trailer:

 

Ten Nightmare on Elm Street Clones:

MOVIES and MANIA rating: