Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Camp Blood (USA, 1999)

The fact of the matter is, not all shit stinks equally. Take for example, films like The Wickeds (2005) or Final Hour (1995): total shit, both films, and they stink like a putrid, diarrhea-smeared anus in a land without water on a person without arms. Final Hour we'll toss out of the discussion here, because it probably had a budget (and we hate it too much to bother talking about). True, The Wickeds had a budget, too, but it was small: $50,000. Camp Blood, we are sure, had a smaller budget — hell, did it even have one? And like The Wickeds it is, indeed, total shit: shitty enough that you could probably use it to fertilize enough land to feed all of Africa with healthy grains and vegetables. Yep, it is a truly atrocious, direct-to-video slasher.
But, you know what? It doesn't really stink; in this sense, it's a bit like your own farts when you're hung-over and home alone. Camp Blood is a true, blue-blooded bad film, the type of crappy film that is so shitty, so indescribably incompetent, that it becomes enjoyable; it becomes a laughable comedy of cheap blood, bad acting, narrative and directorial inability, and total cinematic error. It is a masterpiece of everything that a good film should not be. We loved it — but we'll be damned if we can actually recommend it.
Where should we begin — or, perhaps, why should we bother? We bother because, well, dunno. (Because we were molested by a priest as a child? Because we weren't? Who knows why, we just do.) But let us begin with the title, the reference of which is as obvious as the movie's plot is unoriginal, derivative, and predictable: "Camp Blood", of course, is the nickname of Camp Crystal Lake, the location of events in the original and classic Friday the 13th (1980 / trailer). And like that film, and so many others, Camp Blood starts out with a couple who have sex and thus must die.
Here, two birdwatchers are underway in search of a rare egg-laying feathered vertebrate when they decide to have sex in the forest. They practice a strange form of safe sex in which neither ever removes their trousers, but both remove their tops, and thus the film begins with its only (and prolonged) topless female scene — and what a fine, fully natural set she has! A set that "director" Brad Sykes (who also "wrote" the movie) focuses on with unadulterated exploitive fascination — here, at the latest, if the unprofessionalism of the acting and camerawork hasn't yet let the unsuspecting viewer realize that the movie has low artistic goals and merit, it becomes obvious that Sykes is a trash filmmaker of exceptionally rock-bottom intentions. 
The couple, of course, dies at the machete of the film's killer clown (played by "Shemp Moseley") — oddly enough, however, later in the film, after enough time has passed that the couple's disappearance could even be noted in the newspaper, the female half is discovered, still alive, by two hunting rednecks, Gus (Ron Ford) and George (Tim Sullivan, supposedly of The Laughing Dead [1989]). They, too, never make it out of the forest.
As mundane as the opening, so is the plot: two couples — a nice one, Tricia (Jennifer Ritchkoff, a terrible actress, but good by comparison to the rest of the bunch) and Steve (Michael Taylor), and a dicky one, Jay (Tim Young of Scarecrow [2002 / trailer]) and Nicole (Betheny Zolt of Serum [2006 / trailer]) — go camping together to Camp Blackwood, aka Camp Blood, and ignore the warnings of a local nutcase, Thatcher (Joseph Haggerty), that nothing good will come of going there. Following their butch lesbian guide Harris (Courtney Taylor of Prom Night III: The Last Kiss [1990 / trailer]) deep into the woods, the morning after a round of campfire ghost stories in which we learn the origin of the killer clown, the bodycount begins...
High points of the movie (aside from the fab, all-natural bouncers that open the movie) include the fact that there really isn't a campsite (they simply camp out in the forest); the total lack of realism of their hike (no food or hiking gear, but Nicole's trunk full of clothing, although tents magically appear later); Nicole breaks her leg by tapping it against a log; Steve, convinced that size doesn't matter, runs after the killer clown only — since size does matter — to die a death that is obviously a homage to the classic machete-in-the-head scene of the original Dawn of the Dead (1978 / trailer); the fact that the group is "lost" in an area where graffiti is on the rocks and a huge overpass can be seen in the distance; canned music of the most generic form (supposedly "composed" by "Ghost"); the acting of Joseph Haggerty ("Thatcher"), who performs as if he were in a Monty Python sketch (which much of the movie could pass as); a locked car that suddenly opens and can be driven without keys; one effective death that is actually unexpected in how it plays out; and the multiple twists at the end which move the entire flick into the realm of hilarious mental mind-fuck — writer/director Brad Sykes either couldn't figure out how to end the film, or was incapable of deciding which ending he wanted.
If, in any way, we have made Camp Blood sound like a good movie, don't be fooled! It is a total piece of foul flotsam, despite the visually pleasing look of the killer. But, although the flick is total 100% feculence, we found ourselves laughing heartily quiet often over the course of its hackneyed, unoriginal, and incompetently filmed tale. Some might find that the movie has a slight and distasteful tinge of anti-lesbianism, but while that is arguably true, it isn't as in your face as, say, in Alexandre Aja's far-better made High Tension (2003 / trailer), if only because it almost gets lost in the all-over-the-place grand finale.
Unbelievably enough, Camp Blood has since spanned three follow-up movies: Brad Sykes' Camp Blood II (2000 / German "trailer") and Within the Woods (2005 / trailer), and Mark Polonia's Camp Blood: First Slaughter (2014 / trailer). It would seem that like penicillin-resistant gonorrhea, Camp Blood just doesn't want to go away...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Brad Sykes isn't a "TrAsH FiLmMaKeR" he made Death Factory!!! Death Factory was awesome!!!!!!!!!

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