Horror is a genre beset by clichés and tropes. I have discussed some of them already in this blog, but have yet to scratch the surface of the overflowing vat of triteness. From the lack of phone signal in the isolated, murderer infested location of your choice to the fact that if your paramour rocks up all silent and wearing a schlocky mask that means he is a serial killer and her WILL butcher you, horror is often ridiculed for its obviousness. Good horror can overcome this, by subverting the clichés (Scream, House Of The Devil) or even the wildly underused idea of actually making a decent film so the clichés don’t rankle so much. One area where nubile teens have little luck in staying alive I haven’t looked at yet is camping – I apologise for that lame non sequitur, but I’m having a hard time writing an introduction for this film that isn’t just ‘It’s really, really, really shit’ repeated over and over again. Very few folk who go to commune with nature in horror films make it back to the rat race. And if the case of the folk in the film I’m going to look at today, praise the actual Lord. Camp Blood is definitely from the Sickle school of incompetence. So, will it make me want to throw things at other things as much as that film did? Let’s find out. Spoilers, such as they are, to follow.
Camp Crystal Lake Was Also Known As Camp Blood. If The Film Makers Thought This Would Fool Us Into Thinking This Was A Good Film They Were Gravely Mistaken.
The film does not get off to a great start by lying to us straight away, it claims, via the name of its production company, that we are about to see some ‘Sterling Entertainment’. Sterling Entertainment eh? I’ll be the judge of that. Oh, it’s a found footage movie, the DVD box didn’t state that… wait, no, sorry, my mistake, it’s just appallingly poor camera quality. As you were. Two people trek through the woods, looking for rare birds. They get bored of that pretty quickly though, and decide to have sex instead, in that favourite horror movie sexual position; grinding against each other whilst still wearing most of their clothes. The bird isn’t keen on their lack of devotion to the cause and interrupts them. I’m no expert on bird song but I think what it said can loosely be translated as ‘Oi, stop rutting in my forest you stupid humans’. The guy goes to look for the bird to take a photograph of it. He is promptly stabbed by, ah man, another unscary clown, didn’t I give you guys enough of a going over in the When Evil Calls review? The unfortunate man is stabbed clean through his chest with a giant knife. But he has no blood in his body, so it’s ok. His lady friend goes to look for him, without bothering to do her top up again, as you do. Clown wasn’t put off by the guy’s lack of blood so just smeared some tomato soup over him and strung him up upside down. Lady friend finds the body, and runs away as Clown tries to attack her. She trips over in the most pathetic way possible and gets killed. Cue credits, possibly typed up using an Amstrad.
Slipknot Cos-Play, It’s What All The Cool Kids Are Doing. Thank God I’m Not Cool.
We cut to a girl jogging; when she gets home she finds her newspaper with the headline ‘Famous Wildlife Photographer Disappears’. Sorry, random no blood guy, guess you weren’t important enough to warrant a mention. Jogging girl takes a shower, where her boyfriend does the classic shower jump scare. Very Funhouse of them, and it wasn’t even original then. Jogging girl, Tricia, her boyfriend Steve, and two of their friends are planning a camping trip to the same woods where the photographer went missing. Tricia isn’t keen on the trip now, but Steve says she can trust him, so that’s just dandy, I’m sure there will be no slaughter what so ever now. I think, just think, she might be the final girl.
We briefly go back to the woods, where two rednecks are going hunting. And when I say brief, I mean exactly that. A line a piece, just to establish them as simpletons and walking hairy lumps of murder fodder, and then back to the camping group. Steve’s mate Jay is picking up his girlfriend Nicole, a girly girl who wears a tiny skirt and high heels on a camping trip, aka the mark of death. Steve and Tricia also prepare for the trip, they have issues and the trip will help blah blah blah. When has going on a camping trip in a film ever resulted in anything other than grisly death? Jay and Nicole arrive and the group head off, they are all so unnatural together I don’t think any of them have even met before today. If I found that this was actually the case and no rehearsals were done for this film I wouldn’t be at all surprised. Jay is obsessed with seat belt safety, reminding everyone to buckle up but chatting on his mobile phone while driving doesn’t bother him one iota.
Back to the rednecks, who are hunting for deer. I think they are the (sigh) comic relief. They find the missing wildlife photographer, still alive and making the most unusual noises. The Clown clearly isn’t any fonder of forced comedy relief than I am, and as they lean over the body, marvelling at the bad acting master class going on in front of them, he sneaks up and kills them. The group head on to the camp. Jay complains and shouts about absolutely everything. His phone has no reception (‘I should have got a Motorola’ –there’s no way that was product placement, and if the film makers were hoping for a freebie, good fucking luck), Nicole is painting her toenails, and he doesn’t like the smell (he doesn’t want to open the window, except, ahem, it already is open), people are talking, or breathing too loudly. Christ I hope he dies first. They can’t find Camp Blackwood, their destination. Maybe it’s because they keep switching dimensions as the exterior shots outside the car windows keep changing from town scape to countryside in a matter of seconds. It’s called continuity guys, it’s even in the dictionary and everything.
They see a guy power walking (or suffering a series of muscle spasms or something) by the side of the road and decide to ask him for directions. When Jay beeps his horn at him the guy has a heart attack and falls down. When they get out to help the guy leaps up, he was faking. He proceeds to literally bellow at them about the ‘youth of today’. They ask for directions to Camp Blackthorn. ‘You mean Camp Blood’ the guy Brian Blesseds at them. Didn’t it occur to any of them to bring a map? He yells at them about a maniac who still roams the wood, and then gives them directions anyway, oh and the villain is actually called Clown. Genius. The family from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 would disown this guy for being too embarrassing to be seen with. He jigs about like a fucking loon as they drive off, shouting about the Clown.
Crazy Ralph Called, He Wants His Shtick Back.
The group arrive at Camp Blood, and amazingly, no one has thrown Jay out the window on their way. They bicker a bit about their guide not showing up. Jay whines on and fucking on. No one believes Tricia’s ‘bad feelings’ and no one else except her heard the old guy mention a clown. They get fed up of waiting and decide to go on into the woods regardless. Our merry band of idiots start their trek through the clown infested woods, Nicole struggling with her giant case. Steve and Tricia hear a noise and go and check it out. They spot a lone figure out in the woods. Steve tackles them, and promptly gets his arse kicked by a girl. This is Harris, their guide, she was mapping the area for the group. They head back to the other two and Jay proves himself sexist along with all his other charming qualities when he says he wouldn’t have booked her if he’s known she was a girl. You spoke to her on the phone you fucking cretin. Harris gives him the smack down, both verbal and physical, I like this girl. She can stay. Even though she’s clearly the killer. In fact, especially because she’s the killer, these kids need to die, mostly Jay, and the rest for being friends with him. The group, eager to shuffle off their mortal coil, agrees, she can stay and off they go, despite Jay’s best attempts to be a whiniest of all the little bitches. Tricia asks Harris about the Camp Blood legend, but she denies any knowledge of the stories or the clown, which makes sense, what with her being the killer and all.
They reach the camp site, looks like a random patch of grass to me, why did they even need a guide? It’s the fucking woods, just pick a spot and put your tent up. There is a rope swing though, which Steve thinks is the coolest thing, like eva. You and I have wildly differing ideas of ‘cool’ Stevey boy. Harris doesn’t have a tent, preferring to sleep under the stars. Jay and Nicole go for a wander, while the others continue to set up camp. Steve apologises to Harris about Jay; ‘He’s got an attitude sometimes’. Sometimes? Attitude? The guys a massive bellend of the highest order. He proves this fact thusly by freaking out Nicole, she slaps him (yay), and then they get frisky (yuck).
Harris watches them for a bit before making her presence known, disturbing the happy couple. Nicole storms off for some reason. Back at camp Harris admires Steve’s survivor knife that he bought along. Jay returns with firewood, angry that Harris interrupted his quest to find a girl who was actually willing to sleep with him. He thinks that Harris fancies Nicole. Even he knows he’s repugnant to women. Camp fire time, marshmallows etc. If I thought the camera quality was bad before it just got a shit ton worse. All the shots of Jay and Nicole are as juddery as fuck. And they have guitar, save me now, also that wasn’t with their gear before when they were hiking. Ghost stories time, Bloody Mary, Hook For A Hand and so on. Then Harris brings up The Clown, a story that took place 20 years ago today (Dah Dah Dah! – I hope that didn’t imply that I care, by the way, I really don’t give a shit).
Nice Of The Film Makers To Go With Such A Non-Stereotypical Portrayal Of Lesbians.
Stanley Cunningham, Harris tells us. Actually, she doesn’t say anything, we just see the story via flashback and a series of excruciatingly bad screen wipes. Anyway, Stanley found his wife/girlfriend cheating on him, knocks them both out, takes them to the woods and kills them to death with terrible special effects. Their bodies were found weeks later, Stanley never was. Sometimes people still go missing, and the no evidence of them was ever found, and clearly the police just shrugged their shoulders went ‘whatevs’ and just accepted it. I added that last bit by the way. The two couples head to bed. Nicole is freaked out about the story, but Jay uses his minimal charms and they have sex (*shudder*). Steve isn’t having as much luck, Tricia is also freaked out. Steve strikes out. Jay makes the worse fake sex noises ever. Harris rolls her eyes in disdain, or is perving on them. I don’t really care. Tricia hears something cry out in the night.
The next morning, Tricia climbs out of her tent to find the body of Harris, burnt to a crisp. And no one heard anything, fucking really? Cue screaming. Tricia thinks it’s the clown and immediately has a very clear idea of his psychology – ‘He’s toying with us’. Nicole has gone catatonic. They decide to split, leaving their gear. Steve thinks he knows the way back to main trail. Tricia can’t believe they aren’t going to drag the mangled corpse of Harris back with them, and they’re just going to leave her there. This doesn’t mess with Harris being the killer thing, by the way, it’s still totally her. No question.
Nice Try Film Makers, She’s Still The Killer.
As the group makes their way Nicole manages to sprain her ankle by merely brushing it against a fallen branch as only a true moron could. Jay, gentleman to the end, is prepared to leave his girlfriend to her fate. The clown rushes out at them, Steve punches him using a dreadful sound effect and gets out his survivor knife, the clown, despite having a much bigger knife, runs away. Steve follows the clown, Trisha follows Steve, Jay continues to (what else?) moan. Steve finds the Clown’s knife on some rocks by the river, he picks it up, Clown jumps down on him (what a completely brilliant plan), and they dance about with their knives like they’re in some bizarre version of West Side Story. They do this for several years until eventually clown slices Steve in the arm, then the head. Steve is dead. Pure poetry.
If This Guy Was Hoping For A Kevin Bacon Type Rise To Hollywood After This He’s Going To Be Sorely Disappointed.
Tricia is still wandering around aimlessly. She finds Steve’s body, and picks up his knife. Clown attacks her, she runs, Clown very carefully running at her pace so not to catch up to her. Random flashbacks of her talking about Clown, the films like 85 minutes long, I don’t think we were in danger of forgetting any of that. When she reaches the trail and Jay finds her she is suddenly still holding Steve’s knife, which disappeared when she started running. Anyone would think this film was really poorly made or something. Oh, it is. Carry on. The remaining three go through the woods, supporting Nicole between them. Trisha and Jay fight, Clown creeps up behind them, and then I say ‘creep’, I mean walks up in plain sight, and kidnaps Nicole, who does nothing to stop prevent this, it’s a sprained ankle love, kick Clown with your good foot. Sorted. Despite Clown not having a knife anymore, Jay and Trisha just watch as he takes their friend. Jay punches Trisha and takes Steve’s knife (the film makers obviously were very proud of that super realistic punching sound effect, they use it loads). Jay takes off after the clown and Nicole, but can’t find them. He gets tangled up in…nothing and spins around like a mug. He thinks Clown is coming to get him so he stabs out. It was Nicole. Yeah, I’ve often mistaken blonde girls dressed in pink for a poor Slipknot imitation maniac. Clown reappears. Jay laughs like a mental. Clown breaks his neck. On behalf of all women everywhere, thank you.
Where’s Jason Voorhess When You Really Need Him? This Clown Is Soiling The Name Of Woods Based Killers Everywhere.
Tricia gets back to the car, shouty guy from before finds her, she hysterically tells him what happened. Shouty McShouterson doesn’t believe her, the Clown was a story the locals made up to keep tourists away. Clown appears, the two of them are working together. They struggle, Trisha gets the knife and slices Shouty in the stomach, she then drops the knife (of course) and runs, allowing Clown to slice her in the back of the leg. Clown gets on top of her and she pushes her thumbs in his eyes, blinding him. The slowest and less suspenseful chase scene in history happens. Shouty drives after them and runs Clown over accidentally. The mask comes off but Clown won’t die in anything other than his Sunday best so puts it back on again. Trisha stabs Shouty, crying all the while in most annoying way possible. Trisha removes the clown mask, it was Harris all along. Shocked? I know I am. She gets in the car, but Clown isn’t done yet. Trisha runs her over. Not wait, now she’s in the back seat and is strangling Tricia. What the actual fuck? I can’t believe I’m about to defend Sickle here, but at least the villain in that was shown to be supernatural so, however stupid it was, you could use that a reason for teleportation powers. This is just an affront to, well, fucking decency if I’m honest.
If Only That Car Were Christine, She’s Sort Them Both Right Out.
We cut to Tricia in a hospital. The doctor is played by Steve, the policeman by Jay and the nurse by Nicole. Eh? Never mind that fucking absurdity though, let’s go with it for now, we’re nearly done. The police found all the bodies and think Tricia is the killer. She tries to explain that it was Harris all along, they don’t believe her because she was covered in Harris’ blood. Trisha tells them that the story Harris told them was true except it was Harris who caught her girlfriend shagging about and killed them both, 20 years ago. What? Harris is about 20 years of age, 30 at the most, unless she started her murder spree awfully young. Tricia is sedated and left by the police and doctor, but oh no, who’s at the door? It’s the clown, or Harris, or what fucking ever.
Now THIS Is A Scary Clown, And That’s Before It Went Evil.
Well that was a massive pile of stupid. How I managed to write this much about it I don’t know, because nothing fucking happens in this film. The characters wander about like idiots, then all die in the last 10 minutes. And these aren’t even stock characters, featuring the usual clichés we know and love (tolerate), they are empty vessels of literally nothing. Jay is the only one with the hint of a personality, and it all revolves around being an irritating dickhead who I wanted to punch in the throat. Everything is abysmal; script, direction, acting, effects, everyone on film looks like they suffer from jaundice due to poor quality camera. The story, such as it is, makes not one jot of sense, no one ever investigated more than minimally into all these disappearances? The wildlife photographer went missing the day before our group of charisma vacuums went on their trip, wouldn’t the woods be crawling with people looking for her? She is after all, a ’famous’ wildlife photographer, although I doubt Arthur Morris ever stopped snapping breath taking photographs of rare birds just so he could have a quick shag in the undergrowth. Not that there was any doubt that Harris was the Clown, that was tediously obvious, but why write into the film that the Clown has been terrorising the woods for the last 20 years and then cast an actress who is clearly in her 20s as the killer? Clearly this was made on a miniscule budget, so maybe I’m being a tad harsh on the practical aspects of the film, but you need no money at all to write a decent, coherent story, and with a little creativity you can overcome some of the technical obstacles, Evil Dead for example, did exceptionally well with limited means in this area, it also helped that Evil Dead is an awesome film. Camp Blood is the polar opposite of awesome. And do you want to know the best part? There are sequels. That’s right, honest to goodness sequels to this piece of dross. Two of them in fact. Camp Blood is a trilogy. I’ll just let you dwell on that for a moment, Camp Blood. Is. A. Trilogy. There are three of these things out there in the world, at this very moment. I find that thought slightly chilling. I can’t fathom what possessed people to make one of these films, let alone three. There was absolutely nothing in Camp Blood to warrant further outings for this universe. I have no plans to ever see Parts 2 and 3 (and I consider myself quite the glutton for punishment), and for what’s it worth you should also definitely avoid Part 1 as well.
Thought You Were Going To Escape Without Seeing This Didn’t You? Sweet Dreams…
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