Don’t Panic (1987)

Don’t Panic (1987) Directed by Ruben Galindo Jr.

So bad it’s good? Or so great it’s bad? Either way, this bizarre slasher Nightmare on Elm Street Mexican telenovela could epitomize the assets of both categories at the same time. It’s a very juvenile, overly cheesy concoction of American slasher film conventions but mostly a low-key rip-off of Wes Craven’s film. At times the supreme silliness incarnated in each of the conceited characters of this supernatural slasher is so harmlessly and stupidly humorous that its ostensible features of ugliness and cinematic incompetence persuade your incredulous psyche to believe in the schlocky entertainment of its formless storytelling. Nevertheless, when it flaunts its proficiency at orchestrating schizoid gore as adolescent allegories, Ruben Galindo Jr.’s film displays intimations of some originality so spectacularly, so bombastic, so colossal, that its nightmarish extravaganza becomes contrived.

Despite its certain authentic qualities, Don’t Panic -for English speakers- Dimensiones Ocultas -for Spanish speakers- is still a sort of Nightmare on Elm Street paraphrased with some idiosyncratic soap opera overtones. From my point of view, Don’t Panic is a tragicomedy, just think about it, it’s an ersatz Nightmare on Elm Street made by a Mexican American co-production about a bunch of spoiled rich kids coming from foreign backgrounds settled in Mexico who have the bright idea of playing Ouija board inebriated, what can go wrong? Well, everything; but it’s very, very funny. During the birthday celebration of Michael (Jon Michael Bischof), a teenager who shamelessly parades his infantile dinosaur pajamas throughout most of the goddamn picture, is when the devilish game takes place. His friends force him to participate in the Ouija board game, whereupon his life turns into a vivid nightmare. Every time the evil spirit he and his friends foolishly summoned possesses his best friend, Michael involuntarily interfaces with the demonic killer’s sight, experiencing the bloody murders firsthand.

Like any traditional slasher in which the protagonists are imprudent teenagers, Don’t Panic’s hackneyed plot fills in the blanks with insipid romance and dramatic domestic woes. Michael lives with his alcoholic mother, his father is absent from virtually every facet of his life, and his parents are divorced. Whenever the supernatural events parallel Michael’s family issues, Ruben Galindo Jr.’s ordinary filmmaking plays as an allegory for the psychological trauma of divorce and growing up without a father. Clearly, the film intertwines the theme of manhood with the contextual demonology of the plot. However, the filmmakers rarely succeed in expressing them with emotion and gravitas, the outcome is only hilarity and levity. By the time the blood-soaked climax arrives, Don’t Panic has squandered all its resources, the only thing left is the vanity of gratuitous violence, which isn’t all that well done either.

In the end you don’t really know which was more outrageously laughable, the super cool colorful pajamas worn by Jon Michael Bischof or the awesomely awful song Don’t Panic sung by Bischof himself.


Matteo Bedon

Written by

Editor and Official Film Critic at

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *