It’s that time again my Flowers when I descend into the pit that is the basement of the Horse Hospital. You know the one with the big screen and the channels in the floor to drain away the blood.
April’s presentation from our affable host Mr Billy Chainsaw, was Camp Dread an American movie featuring Julia’s less famous big brother Eric Roberts. Eric plays Julian Barrett (no not the bloke from The Mighty Boosh), a 1980s slasher film director who gets blackballed by Hollywood for being a right evil bastard to work with. Only now he’s back and casting a reality TV show based upon his Summer Camp horror trilogy, where unsurprisingly a bunch of teens go to a summer camp where there is a crazed killer on the loose. Hyped up as an alternative to jail or rehab, 10 troubled teens enthusiastically enrol for the show and head on out to the camp at back end of nowhere for their stab (see what I did there) at TV fame.
Barrett gets the kids together in the club house and explains how one of them will walk off with a million bucks, all that person has to do is be the last man standing. Naturally, the killings will be faked for the TV audience, yeah like we believe that! All the traditional bases are covered. There are people to like and folks that you just want to see brought down: amongst the contestants we have sex pest, a violent abuser and the really introverted unhinged girl who murdered her rapist brother.
So it won’t come as any surprise that mobile phones stop working and people get competitive as the corpses start to pile up, but despite the well-worn slasher movie tropes there are some remarkably creatively engineered deaths and quite a few dark laughs to had along the ride, not to mention an absolute killer gag at the film’s conclusion. When it comes down to it my Hothouse Flowers it’s reality TV as we’d all like to see it. Bring on Celebrity Cannibal Holocaust!
I give Camp Dread a big 666/666, it may be corny but it’s a lot of fun. Camp Dread is released on DVD on 23 June in the UK.
Screenings at the CUT! include one free drink plus entry into a free draw to win all kinds of strange promotional stuff. Entry is free, but strictly limited. To get on the guest list e:mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ideas utilised in Camp Dread bugged me until I recalled the two stories by American Sci-Fi author Norman Spinrad that it reminded me of:
Bug Jack Barron (1969): Jack is a future (the story is set in 1994) TV shock jock. You have a problem that bugs you, you call Bug Jack Barron and Jack bugs whoever has caused you that problem in front of his 100 million viewers. It all works fine until Jack takes on The Foundation for Immortality, which is up to something really nasty.
The National Pastime (1973): To break the hold of the NFL on TV sport, a rival network creates Combat Football. It’s like American Football, but without the protective clothing and anything’s allowed both on the pitch and in the stadium, buying a ticket waives the spectators right to Police protection.
Review by Simon Ball
Connect with Simon: @RealShipsCook or here.