Valley of the Cheapjack Franchises: BLOODY MURDER
Another cheapjacker that jacks Friday the 13th for its material: Bloody Murder and its sequel and spin-off are probably the most blatant photocopies of Jason’s adventures at camp going, so much so that there’s even a backstory concerning a hockey-masked psycho killer…
A.k.a. Scream Bloody Murder (UK)
“They thought it was just a game.”
Director: Ralph Portillo / Writer: John R. Stevenson / Cast: Jessica Morris, Christelle Ford, Patrick Cavanaugh, Michael Stone, Peter Guillemette, Justin Martin, Dale Smigelski, Tracy Pacheco, Lindsey Leigh, William Winter, Michael Proshaka.
Body Count: 6
Dire-logue: “If it comes down to it, I’m willing to be with you carnally.”
Teenage counsellors fixing up Camp Placid Pines hear the legends of Trevor Moorhouse, a hockey-masked, chainsaw-for-an-arm maniac who likes to disembowel the local population. Nevertheless, they decide to play a bizarre game of hide n’ seek (called Bloody Murder) and shortly after some of them – I stress some – start disappearing, thus giving rebirth to the legends and allowing drippy heroine Julie to do a bit of detective work.
Some really shameless elements are lobbed into the mix with a so-called red-herring suspect that a toddler could figure out, and a Randy clone who makes the group watch Sleepover Camp Massacre XIV (actually clips from the just-as-crummy Fever Lake) and goes so far as to comment on the prolonged running time of the movie being “unusual for films of this genre.” The prime suspect happens to be named Jason. How much groaning can you exhibit during 84 minutes?
Julie – whose dad went to the camp years earlier – uses her laptop to figure out the mystery but the killer turns out to be someone else who we didn’t really pay much attention to… Up to this point, the film offers up clues to keep you looking the other way, but the whole production is juvenile, almost goreless, and lazy, with the worst news coming in the form of a dumb twist that virtually promises a sequel.
One good line: “My older sister swears she knows someone whose brother disappeared up here years ago…” And that, my friends, is how rumours get started.
BLOODY MURDER 2: CLOSING CAMP
A.k.a. Halloween Camp
“The second cut is the deepest.”
Director: Rob Spera / Writer: John Stevenson / Cast: Katy Woodruff, Amanda Magarian, Kelly Gunning, Arthur Benjamin, Tiffany Shepis, Ray Smith, Tom Mullen, Lane Anderson.
Body Count: 8
Extraordinarily, Bloody Murder did something right to generate this decent follow up, easily the best of its ropey franchise, which takes us back to Camp Placid Pines five years after the previous incident (and ironically the same number of years that separate the events of the first two Friday the 13th films).
This time, the teen counsellors have made it through the summer, bid farewell to the campers and are now locking down the place for the off-season. Amongst the group is Tracy, whose brother Jason disappeared first time round, a fact she feels the need to remind everybody of to the point ad nauseam. Stories of Trevor Moorhouse circulate and are dismissed as sub-standard summer camp myths by the know-all who becomes the first victim of a masked, machete-favouring killer in a ghoulish plastic mask.
It should have been easy to avoid the potholes the first film continually buckled its wheels into, and Closing Camp starts out sticking to the genre rules like flypaper with the standard teens having sex, wandering off and getting slaughtered amidst repeated nods to ‘the rules’ of horror movies, yet again featuring the black guy who bemoans that he won’t last long.
This all entertains for the most part but the after-school theatrics of Tracy’s detective work mar the payoff as similar turns did in the first film and as the film moves into the third day with several deaths and disappearances, you wonder why the remaining kids aren’t just put up in a local hotel instead of hanging around the death camp and – unbelievably – splitting up to look for clues!
Once this season’s killer is revealed and the motive spurted like Betsy Palmer’s outtakes, it’s followed by almost exactly the same twist as first time around! Strangely, the film elects a sort of secondary final girl who survives along with Tracy and, as was the case in #1, there is only one female fatality. What is this, BM, pro-feminist slashing?
Merit for half-succeeding in getting it right…if only they’d continued with the same enthusiastic outlook.
A.k.a. Bloody Murder 3
“Fear is buried here.”
Director: Michael Feifer / Writer: Michael Hurst / Cast: Lindsay Ballew, Markus Potter, Patrick Scott Lewis, Lief Lillehaugen, Erin Michelle, Trish Coren, Chris Stewart, Eva Derrek, Natalie Denise Sperl, Sam Bologna, Mark Salling.
Body Count: 8
Another teen prank goes fatally wrong in this sequelly-spin-off instalment of the “series”. Puck from Glee (the disgraced, late Mark Salling) is the victim after a fake scare in a cemetery, which ends with him impaling himself.
Several years later, his six friends reunite at Camp Placid Pines, where a masked killer who holds them equally responsible begins the olde eliminado game. Good girl Michelle tries to keep things together and re-acclimate Bobby – who took all the blame and spent five years inside – to the rest of the group, while ringleader Jack seems more interested in reigniting his failed relationship with Allie, even after his new girlfriend goes missing (read: is murdered in the shower).
Cue red-herrings tossed in at every given opportunity, although it’s pretty damn obvious who the killer is before long and it seems physically impossible for them to have flit between murders and group searches for missing buddies. Other characters appear only to be killed off minutes later and, of course, no modern DTV slasher flick would be complete without T&A and a butch lesbian. There’s also a crap Sheriff who prioritises a burglary over an alleged murder and is credited for saving the day at the end!
Any credibility gained in the so-so Bloody Murder 2 is tossed into the campfire, thanks to dire plotting and god-awful dialogue, which rarely strays beyond “quit screwing around” mentality but casually throws a “maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon…” into the mix as things go from bad to worse for the viewer of this rubbish. I never thought I’d miss Trevor Moorhouse…
Overall-blurbs-of-interest: genre regular Tiffany Shepis was also in Dead Scared, Home Sick and Scarecrow, Victor Crowley, as well as a blink cameo in Detour; Mark ‘Puck’ Salling was also in Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering.
Bloody Murder 2 was re-titled Halloween Camp for UK DVD and was ‘followed’ by Adam & Evil under the bizarro name of Halloween Camp 2: Scream if You Wanna Die Faster! ‘Trevor vs. Jason’ indeed…