Cannibals are misunderstood, says Judge David Johnson, the current chairman of Stop Misunderstanding Cannibals (SMC), meetings held the first Thursday of every month in the Baptist Church fellowship hall.
Our review of The Basement: Camp Retro '80s Horror Collection, published August 12th, 2011, is also available.
Friends don't let friends eat friends.
Is it me or is that tagline brilliant? The movie's cheap and moronic, but big points right from the get-go for that.
Facts of the Case
Well, it's not the most unique vision for a horror move out here, but bear with me. A group of friends jump into their car and head up to the forest for a happy-go-lucky getaway full of whatever teens with bad skin and greasy haircuts in the '80s did. They ignore the warnings from classmates, who point out the mysterious happenings that have transpired in those woods, involving blood-soaked clothing and a mysterious lack of corpses.
But who cares when you're dating the hot blonde with the Cindy Lauper coiffure?! So off they go. But before they can access their campsite, they have to get past a pair of nasty hillbillies (Richard Marcus and Gene Robbins) and a knife attack. They escape, decide to continue with the camping trip despite the aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, set up their tents, make out a bit, then systematically get killed and devoured by the aforementioned hillbillies.
Now this, friends, is '80s trash! A lot of movies talk big about their gore and cheeseball content, but Cannibal Campout delivers! Is it a good movie? No way. Was it filmed by complete amateurs with a camcorder and the scene-setting acumen of a drunken orangutan? You bet! The dialogue is simplistic and forgettable, and the acting is of the lowest caliber. So why is it that I kind of dig this movie? Please, if anyone out there is a psychotherapist, I would honestly like to know. Send me a Rorschach ink-blot and I'll get back to you.
I suppose if I'm forced to self-diagnose, I'd point to two things that make this pitiful little movie so enjoyable: 1) the lovable cheapness of the whole thing, and 2) the ridiculous amount of gore.
Yes, this "movie" can be called such very loosely and only because there's a handful of scenes strung together with people in them reciting lines, but adequate filmmaking, this isn't. As we find out from the bonus materials, Cannibal Campout was straight-up guerilla filmmaking, the kind of crap one would shoot on the weekends. Director (and star) Jon McBride did his thing in the backwoods of wherever it was he and his friends lived, using consumer-brand equipment and homemade effects. Despite this—no, wait—because of this bottom-feeding budget and amateurish execution, Cannibal Campout brings with it an unpretentious charm, that intangible so-@#$%#$&@$-bad-it's-fairly-entertaining feel that the "good" schlockers can boast of.
What really earns this flick some notoriety is the stunning amount of gore these guys threw in their film. McBride reveals in an accompanying interview that he recognize he needed something to set his slasher film apart from the onslaught of low-budget horror films out there, so he decided to just go over-the-top with the blood and guts. The effects are certainly lowest-common-denominator, but damned if they don't still manage to gross-out. There is a LOT of Karo syrup flowing in this film and McBride isn't sheepish about soaking his actors in the sinew. The last 20 minutes or are pretty much devoted to close-ups of mangled intestines and flowing red stuff. For the vanishing budget these sickos had to work with, the stuff looks half-decent. And wait until you see the ridiculous ending that likely went too far, even for a goofy affair like this.
Unfortunately, the video quality of the transfer is really bad. It appears to be straight VHS dub, as the details are fuzzy beyond belief and the picture appears to vibrate throughout. The mono track, er, fails to impress. The silver lining to this technical dark cloud is the bonus material, highlighted by the commentary with McBride, some spiffy, newly-produced cast interviews, and raw gore footage. Pointless deleted footage, a stills gallery, and a music video round out the batch.
Lots and lots of homemade gore and a cheesy disposition make this '80s noxious-blast-from-the-past a fun treat.
The bench is entertained. Case dismissed.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Camp Motion Pictures
• Director's Commentary
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