IF YOU GO DOWN IN THE WOODS TODAY, YOU’RE IN FOR A BIG SURPRISE.
First up, a confession… I shamelessly neglected to mention this terrific flick in my “Great Red North” piece about Canadian slasher flicks a few months back. Truth is, it should have been front and centre in the piece.
“Rituals” is an entertaining 1977 Canuck horror flick directed by Peter Carter about a group of doctors lost in the Canadian wilderness who are stalked by a killer while on a camping trip. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to the great “Deliverance”, “Rituals” generates its own vibe by focusing on the stalking and killing aspects, generating a canoe-full of suspense in the process. Hal Holbrook stars as the, er… Final Doctor(!). Of the slasher films to come in its wake, “Rituals” most reminds me of “Just Before Dawn” (or vice versa since “Dawn” came a few years after “Rituals”).
“Rituals” has had a tragic history on video/DVD. Available on an OOP Astral VHS, on countless awful quality DVDs usually under its goofy alternative title “The Creeper”, and in a perfect and uncut presentation screened from time to time on Canada’s Scream Network, Code Red DVD is finally giving “Rituals” the release it deserves. Struck from original vault elements and presented uncut, “Rituals” will either see the light of day on November 17 (as Amazon’s website pre-order service promises) or on December 22 (as Code Red’s web site says). Either way, “Rituals” is a creepy must-have for those looking for an interesting take on the slasher genre. Stephen King is a fan; with gore effects by Carl (Friday the 13th Parts 2 & 3) Fullerton, you probably will be too.