Friday, October 24, 2014

31 Days of Fright: It's a Slasher Mash-Up With CAMP QUILTFACE: FIRST CARNAGE... Or Something

Better late than never, I always say, and with my daughter's grade school BOO BASH tonight and the Exhumed Horrorthon in the morning I just hope I can keep things straight. Better to give out the skull rings and happy monster stickers tonight, not the copies of ER and NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR Blu-Ray! Here's your Friday dose of slasher fun ... times two!

I have not seen what is referred to as the "CAMP BLOOD trilogy" and – after reading a synopsis – I'm not entirely convinced the makers of 2014's CAMP BLOOD 3 (sic) have either.

According to online sources, 1999's CAMP BLOOD features a group of campers on the run from a killer clown in the woods. One member of the group survives for CAMP BLOOD 2 (2000) and is hired for a movie-within-the-movie about the original massacre.  Five years later, series creator Brad Sykes mined the "reality show trope" by having contestants line up to spend the night in the infamous woods for a shot at a million dollars, only to have their ranks thinned by a bloodthirsty killer who may or may not be the "legendary" clown of the original flick. Titled WITHIN THE WOODS – not to be confused with the EVIL DEAD precursor of the same name – the flick seemingly brought the FRIDAY THE 13TH-inspired series to a conclusion.

Or so we thought.

Enter the prolific Polonia Brothers and the recently released CAMP BLOOD: FIRST SLAUGHTER (MVD), inexplicably also known as CAMP BLOOD 3. In a nutshell, students in a one-credit urban legend class at a local college are tasked with proving whether or not the "Clown of Camp Blood" is real... or bullshit.

And, like so many before and after them, the dim-witted, unprepared victims students head off into the woods. Will they discover the location of the legendary "Camp Blood"? Probably, because it seems like every character in the movie discovers the sign at some point. Will they find evidence of the murderous mountebank? Probably not, because in a first reel twist the "Clown of Camp Blood" gets offed by another deep woods stalker, this one decked out in camouflage and sporting a mask that looks like it was left over from the EMPIRE OF THE APES shoot.

Students wander off, the seemingly out of shape killer wheezes after them and... news flash! It's three months later and the students have disappeared, leaving only video evidence that will reveal their collective fate. Yep, CAMP BLOOD: FIRST SLAUGHTER has turned into a found footage slasherfest, thanks in part to the camcorder the killer wore on the side of their mask.

From here on out writer/director Mark Polonia (SPLATTER FARM, PETER ROTTENTAIL, EMPIRE OF THE APES [see ER #52 for my review]) delivers pretty much what you'd expect from a low budget slasher riff that looks like it was filmed in SNOW SHARK's backyard. There's campfire fun, horny hijinks, students wandering off to get killed, more finding of the "Camp Blood" sign and priceless dialogue like "a broken down cemetery, a broken down church and a broken down car... man, I hope this isn't an omen".

Maybe a bit too ambitious for what was surely a miniscule budget (it feels like the prop department had one cutaway machete that's used repeatedly), CAMP BLOOD: FIRST SLAUGHTER is enjoyable on a casual viewing level. Neither outrageous nor super gory, it's best recommended for slasher completists and lovers of low-budget horror only.

And this story would end right there had I not picked up THE KILLER 4-PACK (MVD) the next day and glanced at the back cover. Only to find that one flick – CARNAGE: THE LEGEND OF QUILTFACE (2000) – was directed by none other than HELLINGER helmer Max Cerchi. (FYI, David Zuzelo and I talk at length about Cerchi's HELLINGER, HOLY TERROR and, yes, QUILTFACE in the first episode of CINESLUDGE available here and at iTunes.)

Written by John Polonia (who died in 2008 after working on countless low-budget flicks with his brother – and CAMP BLOOD 3 director – Mark), CARNAGE: THE LEGEND OF QUILTFACE (aka CARNAGE ROAD) mines much of the same territory as CAMP BLOOD: FIRST SLAUGHTER, though in much more straightforward slasher fashion.

This time out our intrepid urban legend detectives have been replaced by a quartet of college photography students instructed to head out to the desert and take photos, unaware that the disfigured, machete-wielding veteran known as "Quiltface" stalks the dust-swept wasteland. Luckily, a chatty van driver (the scene-stealing Max Hail) is only too happy to inform the students about the legend before dropping off the "idiots wanting to go to the desert".

Unlike HELLINGER and HOLY TERROR – available on a double feature disc from MVD – QUILTFACE lacks the quirky charm that made those flicks so jaw droppingly enjoyable. Oh sure, Quiltface gets all put off by one student's bra and eats the money she tries to bribe him with (and then does a little dance), but he lacks the charisma that Wayne Petricelli brought to the titular role of Hellinger. And although Nick Armas from HOLY TERROR shows up for a blessedly brief role as a horny shutterbug who gets Quiltfaced during the opening sequence, any goodwill engendered by his death is negated by Dean Paul as the shriekiest final guy-girl in the history of horror cinema.

Resembling a poor man's David Walton (tv's ABOUT A BOY), Paul screams, shrieks, panics, cries and all but wets his pants during the flick's 70-minutes-though-it-feels-longer running time. You'll be rooting for Quiltface to drop his character like a three foot putt thanks to one of the single most annoying performances in horror history.

That said, there's enough strangeness about CARNAGE: THE LEGEND OF QUILTFACE under any name for me to recommend it to lovers of cinesludge and other slices of oddball sinema, but all others beware!


No comments: