Review: CAMP DEATH III in 2D!
I had the opportunity to review this “camp” horror film (see what I did there?) by director Matt Frame and starring Dave Peniuk and Angela Galanopoulos. The film is currently making the horror festival circuit, and campy is actually an understatement when describing this horror farce. Crowdfunding helped with the movie’s $35 000 budget, and apparently the filmmakers spent four years working on it.
During my visits to creative writing groups, I sometimes discuss the slasher film genre of the late 70’s and 1980’s. One of the reasons for the success of the big franchises — HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13th — is the connection viewers feel to the subject material. Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN targeted teenage female paranoia and fear, and FRIDAY THE 13th resonated with the many teens who have lived the summer camp experience. (Hear me speak about the success of slasher films here.) Each represented a huge demographic, and was a smart play by the filmmakers and producers. It’s why HALLOWEEN is one of the most successful and enduring franchises of all time. CAMP DEATH III, however, is almost an insult to serious horror. That being said, if farce and slapstick is what you’re looking for, then perhaps this movie will appeal to you. Who am I to judge? I do know people who enjoy this type of thing. At least the filmmakers aren’t pretending that this is something it’s not. Just look at the tagline at the top of the poster:
I actually didn’t know what I was watching for the first few minutes. At times the film is sped up to frenetic Benny Hill insanity. This turns comedy to absolute farce — clearly what the director intended, but it’s unnerving for me. I typically review serious horror and science fiction films. This is not my thing. The movie is also horribly politically incorrect. At times it’s grotesque how irreverent this movie is. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not complaining. But if you’re easily offended, don’t even think about watching CAMP DEATH III. I will say this about the movie though, the introduction conflicted me. It features a rivetting score and a masterful opening credits sequence. Here’s the trailer:
Johann Van Damme is the villain in CAMP DEATH. Characters describe his backstory in typical campfire tradition often seen in horror. Think THE FOG on speed. Many years after Van Damme’s original reign of terror, “Camp Crystal Meph” is re-opened for a new batch of visitors: a busload of “criminally insane and institutionally unbalanced.” Following a brief introduction of the cast, and mimicking the events of the original FRIDAY THE 13th, Johann Van Damme returns from the dead to exact revenge on the camp’s visitors. There’s not much else to say about the plot. It’s a spoof, after all. You get what’s expected, especially in a movie that is apparently mostly ad libbed and improvised. There doesn’t even seem to be a screenplay here. That in itself is horror.
The cast also includes a bizarre collection of characters:
– an Irishman who travels with a box of potatoes
– a woman who was born without neck vertebrae and wears a brace to keep her head upright
– a handyman who clearly can’t speak without swearing or insulting everyone around him
– a hypersexual and emotionally needy Australian
And the list goes on. I burst out laughing on four occasions, so perhaps I can’t complain. It has its moments. At its core this is a parody of slasher films that have come before it. But there are also others. Some examples include:
-Friday the 13th
-Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
-Raiders of the Lost Ark (maybe)
The slapstick nature of the film permeates every area of the narrative, including the death scenes. In CAMP DEATH III we witness the murder of the visitors to Camp Crystal Meph one after another in the following ways:
– Death by weed wacker
– Death by toaster
– Death by drowning
– Death by stabbing
– Death by manual decapitation
– Death by lightsaber
– Death by burning
– Death by chocolate bar
– And a near-death by a feces-coated plunger
If you’re good with your horror being slapstick farce, then CAMP DEATH III in 2D is exactly what you’re looking for. The trailer is an accurate representation of the film as a whole.
My message to Matt Frame moving forward: Tone things way down, keep some comedy, and make a legit horror movie. I’d like to see what you can do with a serious slant to things. Use CAMP DEATH III as a foundation for future financing. Good luck to you.
TSJ, 27 October 2018
Enter the contest to win a TSJ Mug here.