The opening lines of Don’t Panic go: “There is a door that takes you into another dimension. Once you step through it, there is no return. I’ve already crossed it.” When watching Don’t Panic, you are indeed crossing over to “another dimension” because this 1987 Mexican horror film is truly out of this world. An unusual, fun ‘dimension’ that you will not & won’t want to escape from.
After a fun little 17th birthday party; Michael’s friends surprise him with a ouija board. Michael dislikes this since him and his best friend Tony have messed with one before by speaking to a demonic entity named Virgil. Michael ends up playing with the ouija with his friends assuming they were just gonna have some menial fun with it & getting Michael to admit his crush on the new girl in school: Alexandra. As it turns out, Virgil (with his demonic dagger & thirst for blood) was actually summoned out by Michael & his friends and Virgil takes possession of Tony’s body so he can kill each & one of these teenagers. Michael gets various nightmare-looking warnings from Tony’s soul to stop Virgil from killing him & his friends!
Don’t Panic aka "Dimesiones Ocultas" aka "El Secreto De La Ouija" aka "Rafaga De Sangre", is (according to director/writer Ruben Galindo Jr) a Mexican horror film that was meant to look American for it to be distributed to a mass market outside of North America and indeed it did so since the movie was released in various countries across the globe which lead to it becoming a cult classic over the years. It’s American ‘look’ really did sell the movie!
Don’t Panic deals with the occult, slasher kills and much buffoonery with teenagers; but even with its obvious & various horror film themes, Don’t Panic has a tone that feels unique & so very unusual. With that said; Don’t Panic is an amazing watch. It is entertaining all the way through with its unusual plot, out of the ordinary characters and bloody kills that’ll whet every slasher film fans’ appetite. Make-up artist Ken Díaz (who had worked on Cementerio Del Terror) was hoped to do the make-up effects of Don’t Panic, but he couldn’t provide his services this time around, so he lead Ruben Galindo Jr to Screaming Mad George whom supervised the effects. It was mentioned to me before that Screaming Mad George did not actually work on Don’t Panic, but Galindo Jr himself did say he worked on the film and he’s even credited for it.
I mention Don’t Panic having an unusual plot because the movie aside from its horror angle, also adds a teenage romance snippet as well. However, it is extremely cheesy & perhaps even unrealistic, but it’s still fun to see this ‘romance’ blossom between our main character Michael and leading lady Alexandra. Their chemistry I will admit is grand and you want them together. Ruben Galindo Jr in his Vinegar Syndrome Blu-Ray interview admits to being a romantic guy and indeed he proved it by adding an ultra-mushy & comical romance to his horror film. "The Magic Rose" is something I have yet to try with a chick.
With its entertaining/unusual plot & cool bloody kills; I’m also very fond of the cast & characters of Don’t Panic. Our lead character Michael played Jon Michael Bischof is great to see and wether you like him or not, you will still cheer for Michael because he’s so damn naive & innocent. After all, those famous dinosaur pajamas give us sympathy for him and lots of chuckles. Jon Michael Bischof had also provided his voice & music talents for the movie’s synth music score & even its theme song which can be considered very corny, but a lot of fun too. The lyrics of the theme song are quite catchy & even suspenseful!
The wonderful Gabriela Hassel playing Alexandra is simply adorable. She’s the kind of girl next door you long for from a afar. Hassel had appeared in other movies during the 1980’s and they are quite memorable roles of hers. One being the girlfriend of Pedro Fernandez in Rene Cardona III’s Vacaciones De Terror and Tatiana’s best friend in Un Sábado Más. Helena Rojo plays the careless alcoholic mother of Michael and what a difference for her to be in this low-budget horror film after being in various prestigious Mexican films of the 1970’s. “The mighty have fallen” some jerks will say, but regardless of what she once was in to now; Helena Rojo is still & will always be a wonderful & memorable actress.
Juan Ignacio Iranda right before making a name for himself on Mexican TV, was in Don't Panic playing the care/free Tony & demonic Virgil. Virgil is an obvious Freddy Krueger wannabe, but still very fascinating on his own and quite hilarious as well. I long for a more detailed history of this crazy demonic entity... My favorite character of the movie aside from the mains is “John” who’s played by Roberto Palazuelos and if you’re familiar with him, then you’ll see Palazuelos at his best here. It’s also his beginning in the entertainment industry as well. Palazuelos in real-life is perhaps the most vain Mexican entertainer that has ever lived and here in Don’t Panic he’s just as vain as he is in real life. Well done, Palazuelos. Well done.
Other well-known Mexican actors appear in Don’t Panic are: Edna Bolkan, Raul Araiza, Jorge Luke, Eduardo Noriega Evangelina Elizondo, and Humberto Elizondo. Humberto Elizondo plays a TV reporter and it is the most random role he has ever played. Probably the one time where he wasn’t an antagonist as well.
I first saw Don’t Panic in Spanish on the cable TV channel De Pelicula when I was around 18-19 years old and later on in my twenties I saw it twice in repertory screenings in Los Angeles. Both times I saw it, the audience were in awe & clapping & laughing along with the movie. They loved it. Don’t Panic is a staple in Mexican horror and you are truly missing out if you haven’t watched it already. You must see it to believe it and when you do, I guarantee you will enjoy the hell out of it.
Ruben Galindo Jr’s 2nd Horror feature will forever mean so much to me. Overly-dramatic of me to say perhaps, but I do really love Don’t Panic since it has entertained me for most of my life. I had indeed set foot into this ‘dimension’ Michael speaks of in the opening credits and I have never left it since.
Be sure to buy Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-Ray release of Don’t Panic! I consider it the Best Horror Blu-Ray Release of 2020! : https://vinegarsyndrome.com/collections/frontpage/products/dont-panic
After Don’t Panic, Ruben Galindo Jr & Jon Michael Bischof worked together again in the milita-action flick Rescate Mortal! Check out my review of it here: https://www.trash-mex.com/2019/09/Rescate-Mortal-1989.html
Ruben Galindo Jr didn't stop the horror quite yet with his little-known title Resucitare Para Matarlos (1990)! Check out my review of it from 2018!: https://www.trash-mex.com/2018/05/resucitare-para-matarlos-1990.html
Check out Jon Michael Bischof in one of his last films entitled "Ratas Nocturnas". He also provides a rap song in this movie!: https://www.trash-mex.com/2014/06/Ratas-Nocturnas-1991.html
|cover image from blu-ray.com