Tag Archives: summer camp

Trade-a-Life III

Here we go again, playing God with the lives of hopeless slasher movie characters… As ever, contribute, criticise, shout n’ scream. Hell, it’s not like we can change any of it now…

Watch out for those ma-hoosive spoilers!

THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW

A double Trade to start off this time. The sorority girlies of the house on, y’know, the row (…assumedly of other sorority houses), were most definitely guilty of killing their acid-tongued housemother in a prank gone wrong and as such, they probably deserved what they got. Well, the ones who were in on the joke, for sure. Requisite nice girl Kate is the only one with a wise head on her shoulders but I was quite sad to see overgrown-child Morgan (Jodi Draigie) and ribbon-haired Jeanie (Robin Meloy) go out violently.

I’d have much preferred to see leading-bitch Vicki’s greasy man-toy (who supplied the very gun that was used in the gag-gone-bad) turn up willy-nilly and getting that creepy-ass walking stick through his head… Or there’s Kate’s dorky date-for-the-night Peter (Michael Kuhn), who is pretty much innocent in it all but could’ve been meanly killed off to add fire to Kate’s strikeback. He didn’t do much else that was interesting. May as well’ve died!

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES

This is a bit of a popular one as I’ve read a few times that people were sad to see Camp Forest Green counsellor Paula (Kerry Noonan) exit proceedings so brutally. Even the filmmakers seemed to think enough of her to give her an off-camera death (sort of). We see Jason burst into the room and the camera cuts to the exterior where a blood splash redecorates the window before Paula’s corpse is smashed through the glass. Yeah…still kinda mean for the nice girl whose only concern was the little kiddies.

Now, this was recently altered from a swap with surviving gal Megan (Jennifer Cooke) but it was pointed out that the kids at camp were far, far more deserving of Jason’s chop so it has come to pass that having failed to find a good group shot of all the kids at camp, I nominate about the only ones who get any lines of dialogue (bar the little girl who has a nightmare): Ty and Billy (played by brothers Justin and Tommy Nowell, one of whom later appeared in Sleepaway Camp II). They’re sarcastic and whingey for their cumulative two or three minutes on screen so they should die instead of Paula. Jason’s been far too liberal when it comes to kids in the past, he should’ve made an example of these two.

URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT

Urban Legends 2 is a strange little slasher flick but a pretty good one all the same: student/final girl Amy (Jennifer Morrison) finds her friends/crew being stalked n’ slashed one by one by a fencing-masked loon with some ridiculous motive up his sleeve (and it is really ridiculous). Strangely, not only she and her obligatory love interest are left at the end. Reese (Loretta Devine) is there, natch, but bizarrely two other random guys are left unscathed… Weird.

They’re red herrings, of course, but even once the killer is revealed they could’ve been done away with. Especially sleaze-merchant rich-boy Graham (Joey Joseph Lawrence), who hangs around on his phone to his producer daddy all day and commits the unforgivable sin of suggesting Amy should insert CGI gore into her film rather than old fashioned latex grue!

So, give him the chop and let’s save import-a-camera-guy Schorm ‘Simon’ Jabuscko (Marco Hofschneider), who turns up to help the gang out, makes their film look all nice and does it all with a sexy European accent – and is then gruesomely beaten to death with a lens.

And they let Blossom’s little brother live!?

Trade-a-Life II

Sometimes when watching a slasher pic there’ll be a nice person who dies and I’ll be sad about it for ten or twelve minutes. In recent years horror’s insistence that all people bar heroes are tossers has meant this is rarely the case anymore but way-back-when it wasn’t uncommon for sympathetic victims to pile up along with their more promiscuous, pot-smoking, more sinful buddies. It smarts more if someone who damn well should’ve been turned into a giant pin cushion makes it out unscathed.

Hence, here are three such examples where I’d gladly play God and swap one of the survivors for someone who bought the farm… Humongous spoilers follow.

THE PROWLER

Joseph Zito’s nihilistic little splatter movie may be largely a bore-fest punctuated by some excellent grue but it did offer up a strange little moment of trickery where a teen boy and girl, who I’m calling HornySexCouple for lack of a better understanding of their purpose, creep away from supervision to do the dirty in the basement. A classic slasher flick error.

Meanwhile, nice teech Miss Allison (Donna Davis) goes to look for a missing (and in fact dead) student. The camera cuts between both parties challenging us to guess who’s gonna get it. We watch from behind blurry foreground objects HornySexCouple get in on while Miss Allison discovers a bloody pool where the now-dead chick was slashed up.

Alas, Miss Allison is hijacked on the way back to safety by the killer and gets a blade to the neck while HornySexCouple, it turns out, were being watched by the local perv rather than the psycho. A cruel trick on a nice character.

HornySexCouple were just non-dimensional fodder who would’ve bolstered the rather low body count and Miss Allison should’ve lived to twirl another day in her delightful pink-with-black-shapes dress.

SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND

I actually have nothing against eventual Tiffany-lite heroine Marcia (Tracy Griffith, Mel’s half-sis), she who along with Tony (Mark Oliver), are the only campers at Camp New Horizons who make it out in one piece after puritanical transsexual psycho-loon Angela does away with the rest, who are participating in a meeting of the privileged and not-so youths in an “exercise of sharing.”

Tony is from the less-privileged group, while Marcia is middle class all the way, and herein lies my objection: bad guys can survive but final girls almost always have to be good, moralistic and girly. So I champion Arab (Jill Terashita) as the preferred choice to Marcia.

Arab has ‘tude, silky long hair and a bitchin’ leather jacket. She’d have kicked Angela’s ass if she hadn’t fallen for her trick and lost her head in the process. In fact, looking back at the film, Arab didn’t actually commit any particular ‘sin’ of the type Angela is always so keen to act on.

Although, I should point out neither can hold a candle to Sleepaway Camp II‘s final girl, Molly, played by the lovely Renee Estevez.

FRIDAY THE 13TH (the remake)

Were you sad when final-girl-for-most-of-it Jenna (Danielle Panabaker) became nothing more than a bit of meat stuck to the end of Jason’s machete? Even though I saw her demise coming, it was still a rare ‘awww’ moment for a Friday film, where characters seldom graduate beyond well-trodden stereotypes who we don’t care much about.

Why swap her with Clay, you ask? Well, I loves me some Amanda Righetti in The Mentalist so I can’t bring myself to trade her in for Jenna but then I thought, why couldn’t there have been two final girls for like the first time ever (unless you count Bloody Murder 2 or the Scream movies)?

There’s nothing wrong with Jared Padalecki as the lead but in Jason movies, the main character should really be a girl who channels some inner-Xena to kick ass. A 6’4″ buff guy doesn’t quite press the right buttons but on this one I’m fairly forgiving and it’s clear that Chewie (Aaron Yoo) was the best character by a mile anyway.

Yes? No? Still reeling from my inclusion of Alice last time? Leave me a comment and let’s duke it out.

Pant-Soiling Scenes #17: FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2

My earliest Friday related memory is seeing a TV spot for a Halloween showing of The Final Chapter when I was in Florida circa 1989: it featured the scene where Jason bursts through the window and grabs Corey Feldman and also the re-used footage of the campfire tale from the opening montage. I was only about 10 so couldn’t watch.

Years later when I became dependent on an almost daily Friday-fix, I kept expecting these scenes to show up. Neither were in Part 1 (and I was also staggered to find that neither was Jason!) and by the time I saved up for my VHS of Part 2 I was to find that that window scene was also absent. The Final Chapter would turn out to be the last of the original films I tracked down. But…the creepy campfire story, it was present along with some of the most effective jump-scares I’ve ever encountered…

And so it comes to this: my favourite scene in any movie ever. I love this moment so much. Sure, it’s predictable now but the first two or three times I watched it, it succeeded in making me jump outta my skin.

Ginny hides from bag-headed (and so even creepier) Jason in a bathroom that can’t be locked. The soundtrack maintains a tense string note that seems to go on forever as she listens through the door and slowly…sloooowly…reaches for the window… As Vera Dika’s dissection of how these films work keyed in on, we wonder where Jason might’ve gotten to in the meantime. Oh, you’ll find out!

The fact that Amy Steel is without a doubt the best final girl in the history of the genre aids this remarkably well choreographed scene and those that follow as she runs past the camera and into another room. These films might’ve been cheap but they were certainly not hack jobs made up of rubbish edits, crappy synths and ketchup squirts – some real craft went into making them tense and, in the case of this scene, downright frightening, something all too absent in todays boardroom-produced box-ticking exercices that pass for horror.

Read my full review for further ranting.

You can’t always get what you want

As Depeche Mode once sang, I just can’t get enough. 500 plus slasher films and I’m still unsatisfied and probably forever will be until some of the films-within-films are made a reality… Do any of them exist? Did they ever? Will they ever? No.

Anyway, in case you can’t get enough either, here are some of the slasher films that will never be. And never were.

Regardé:

GARDEN TOOL MASSACRE (1988) from The Blob

I really love this one… Girl on left: “Did you know a horrible murder happened in this house ten years ago tonight?” Girl on right: “No way!”

Camp Counsellor: “Isn’t it a bit late to be trimming the bushes?” Then: “Wait…hockey season ended months ago!”

In just two clips amounting to about forty seconds, Garden Tool Massacre looked like it would’ve been proper amazing! Shame The Blob ruined it by killing the audience.

Probable star-rating if it was real and as good as this all the way to the end: 4 Stars

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HOT BLOODED (1988) from Cut

starring: Vanessa Turnbill, Brad the Stuntman

The title card from the unfinished, cursed Australian slasher film directed by Kylie Minogue’s tyrannical director, who is offed by one of the cast members…

The film’s trademark psycho, Scarman, becomes imprisoned by the cumulative creative energy put into the production blah, blah… Actually, they didn’t have a better idea to explain away the lack of the killer’s identity. But Cut is still awesome.

Probable star-rating if it was real and as good as this all the way to the end: 2.5 Stars

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STAB (1998) from Scream 2

starring: Tori Spelling, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Jolie, Heather Graham, Luke Wilson

The movie based on the book The Woodsboro Murders by Gale Weathers premiered to a gruesome murder at the beginning of Scream 2 – but it was only Jada Pinkett so no biggie.

Wes Craven said that the he intended to show how Scream would look in the hands of a talentless hack, which, arguably, he showed us himself a few years later in Cursed.

Stab is one of the few film-within-a-film slashers to have generated its own franchise: Stab 2 based on the events that occur in Scream 2 and then a fictional second follow up that was plagued by the murders in Scream 3, Stab 3: Return to Woodsboro…

Probable star-rating if it was real and as good as this all the way to the end: 3.5 Stars

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And the others I couldn’t/didn’t get screencaps for…

MURDER CAMP from Matinee

About the only exciting moment from this dull mystery flick is the virtual shot-for-shot recreation of Kevin Bacon’s demise from Friday the 13th.

Probable star-rating if it was real and as good as this all the way to the end: 3 Stars

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SLEEPOVER CAMP MASSACRE XIV from Bloody Murder

These fakies really have a thing for the summer camp subset – and if there were fourteen frickin’ Sleepover Camp Massacre movies I’d so be there! However, for this lame little in-joke, they actually played clips from the dismal Fever Lake instead…

Probable star-rating if it was real and as good as this all the way to the end: 2 Stars

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CHUCKY GOES PSYCHO from Seed of Chucky

Jason Flemyng is a Santa who gets a belly full of Chucky’s (and Tiffany’s) knife in a quick scene shown in the last Chucky movie for the time being. Now, had the dream sequence at the beginning of the film been a part of it, it would’ve been a whole lot better.

Probable star-rating if it was real and as good as this all the way to the end: 3 Stars

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THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE FACTOR PART III: DEATH STRIKES THRICE from Kolobos

Another largely forgettable flick made better by this amusing little in-joke about the self-absorbed actress and the crappy slasher franchise she stars in. Apparently someone is killed with a tennis racket.

Probable star-rating if it was real and as good as this all the way to the end: 1 Stars

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CO-ED FRENZY (1981) from Blow Out

John Travolta is the sound-man looking for a better scream for this lazy looking sorority hack n’ slash affair where the shower victim whimpered like she was on the world’s tamest rollercoaster. Weirdly, it plays almost exactly like Fatal Pulse

Probable star-rating if it was real and as good as this all the way to the end: 1.5 Stars

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RANDOM MAN-WITH-SICKLE FILM (1980) from He Knows You’re Alone

starring Russell Todd!!

The old couple-making-out-in-the-car opener is thwarted by a pantyhose-masked loon with a sickle who hangs Russell Todd from Friday the 13th Part 2 from an overhanging tree and chases his shrieky girlfriend to a barn.

However, all is ruined when a young woman watching in the audience is knifed in the back by the sweaty-browed guy in the row behind.

Probable star-rating if it was real and as good as this all the way to the end: 2 Stars

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And one I wish existed in any form…

Someone sent this E-Card to me at Halloween – I don’t know who made it or where it came from but it rules! How awesome would Math Camp be? Calculus, fractions, all bound together by a psycho on the loose. Want!

Most wanted: Math Camp Massacre Part XXII notwithstanding, it’s got to be Garden Tool Massacre.

I know what you did 25 summers ago

RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP

3 Stars  2003-2008/87m

“Kids can be so mean.”

Director/Writer: Robert Hiltzik / Cast: Felissa Rose, Vincent Pastore, Paul DeAngelo, Michael Gibney, Jonathan Tiersten, Erin Broderick, Michael Werner, Brye Cooper, Jackie Tohn, Katie Simses, Adam Wylie, Christopher Shand, Shahida McIntosh, Jaime Radow, Isaac Hayes, Lent Venito.

Body Count: 9

Dire-logue: “Well look who’s here – Camp Problem Child.”


Das warningen: spoilers follow…

There are some films where the production legacies draw more attention and hysteria than the films themselves. The 1980 Jaws rip-off The Last Shark is one: pulled from cinemas only weeks into its release after Universal sued for plagiarism. Unfortunately for audiences, these events are more interesting than the movie is. The same can almost be said for Return to Sleepaway Camp

Production of this belated sequel to the 1983 cult sleeper took five long years with the film eventually surfacing on DVD at the end of 2008 after numerous re-toolings and the end product is, well, an interesting mish-mash of good and bad.

Let’s back pedal a bit and recap. Hiltzik wrote and directed the first film, which gained notoreity for its shocking coda that the shy teenage girl not only turned out to be the psycho killer but was also anatomically a boy. In the late 80s video sequels, fully-female Angela returned as a puritanical counsellor at a new summer camp to slaughter bad kids. A third sequel began production in 1992 but was shut down when the company went broke.

With fans of the films divided between those who love the original and those who love the campy 80s sequels (put me in the latter category), the internet age ushered in enough love to prompt Hiltzik to create his own direct sequel, ignoring (but not totally unfurling) parts II and III.

Return to Sleepaway Camp takes us to Camp Manabe and brings back original counsellor Ronnie (DeAngelo) as part owner. Kids play pranks and mess about, smoke dope and uniformally pick on Alan (Gibney), a chubby, hulking kid with a very bizarre personality. Alan may be the victim of choice for the popular kids but is equally cruel to those around him, whines and plays for sympathy from the counsellors and never seems to change his clothes.

Alan is egged, ganged up on during a paintball match and sees his beloved frogs skinned by a couple of nasty little scrotes. He only has eyes for the resident popular blonde but when she participates in one last gag, even her safety is no longer guaranteed…Those who torment Alan eventually begin to meet nasty ends: the sleazy kitchen assistant ends up deep-fried (see September’s Icky Ways to Go), a stoner is forced to toke the joint from hell and the camp owner is eaten alive by rats. Ronnie is first to cry Angela but she’s institutionalized… However, the pacing of the killings doesn’t necessarily match Alan’s meltdown: he eventually snaps around halfway through the film, at which point a couple of people are already dead. And what about Angela? How does she fit in to all this?

The scene-to-scene cohesion is one of the problems with RTSC, which can’t seem to decide how to play out with coherence. Alan is the centrepiece of the film but it’s not clear whether he’s going to be the killer or the hero? Either way, the character ranks as one of the most hideous incarnations to ever (dis)grace the screen. Any sympathy ramped up from the numerous humiliations Alan suffers is dissipated soon after by his nightmare attitude, he often leaves situations he’s created by saying “your ass stinks!” to whomever he’s clashed with.

On the plus side of the fence, we get to see Ricky again and, yes, Angela does make an appearance and yes she is the killer, having been disguised all along – rather feebly – as a character who keeps cropping up. The camp setting is well worked and the comings and goings of the campers is convincing enough.

The crowded background cast gets in the way to some degree; the group of nasty kids mostly meet their deserved ends but some are spared and other victims are still hanging in when they’re found. Angela selects her prey rather haphazardly, going in with a scattergun approach and offing as many as she can during the last half hour or so, including one poor guy’s dick being attached by wire to the towbar of a jeep his spooked girlfriend flees in. Ow is the word.

I did garner some enjoyment from the film. It looks pretty good and the performances are more than adequate for the genre (DeAngelo’s quite possibly excluded) but it’s a real mess that even five years of re-cutting, Felissa Rose’s sixty seconds on camera and an Isaac Hayes cameo can’t untangle and it’s in dire need of a strong lead character, something the original didn’t have either.

I love summer camp slasher flicks and clasp my hands in prayer for more but if the mooted Sleepaway Camp Reunion goes ahead, it’ll need to step up the game considerably to out-do Michael A. Simpson’s made for video sequels, which, by rights should suck but are somehow the heart of the series.

She’ll be back…?

Blurbs-of-interest: Rose, Tiersten and DeAngelo all returned from the original; Isaac Hayes was in Uncle Sam; Adam Wylie was the lead evil brat in Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror.

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