Camp Slaughter (Camp Daze) (2005)

camp-slaughter-movie-posterSo, as I’ve mentioned a million times, I’m a hardcore slasher fan. Aside from being a hardcore horror fan, I also am a fan of the sub-genre, and director Alex Pucci and writer Draven Gonzalez really seem to know their stuff when it pertains to slashers, and that’s one reason why I was smiling throughout the entire film. The film opens as you would expect any slasher to. Dark creepy camp, a camp sing-along with a ridiculously catchy hook, and then death. And then more death. The ending though is very similar to the opening of “Friday the 13th”, hell even the score and opening title nearly make it almost identical, and my attention was caught. I loved the opening simply because director Pucci captures the mood very well and almost copies the original film to the tee.

Four shmucks traveling along the road one day end up getting lost and suddenly their car breaks down. They’re attacked and wake up the next day to be greeted by a group of very enthusiastic campers wearing dated outfits and welcome them to their camp. What the four characters don’t realize is that they’ve just been warped to 1981, and have ended up at Camp Crystal La–er–Camp Hiawatha, and to make it worse, there’s a killer on the loose offing the campers one by one. Don’t you hate when that happens? Either way, the formula of the slasher is given yet a real twist as the main characters are actually brought to the age of slashers: the eighties where we get to see some pretty funny jabs at the fashion, colloquialisms, and mannerisms of the eighties that are so dated and considered really goofy, it’s actually funny to see the characters from then interact with the characters from modern times (Ashley Gomes had me in tears).

The characters from the eighties range from goofy, to funny, and the funniest was the character Nicole who really grates on the ears, but made me crack up. Most of the acting is horrible, but this IS spoofing slashers after all, so that makes the acting about right. The film really packs a wallop with the cheese often bordering on the quality of Troma with acting ranging from iffy to completely awful. The actors here never really seem to be committing to their dialogue nor can they ever really seem to take it seriously when they’re attempting drama and or even comedy. The dialogue most of the time never really seems to know the difference. Are we supposed to take Nicole seriously, or see her as a caricature, is Jen supposed to be so brutally insanely obnoxious, or is she playing her character straight, the actors never seem to know and neither does the script which teeters back and forth from comedy to drama to comedy and back again.

Anika C. McFall is so insanely obnoxious as Jen, the machismo fueled heroine, that I was very tempted to forward through her scenes, but I just couldn’t understand what her character was there for. Why is she there? Are we supposed to hate her, or root for her? Why are these three friends with her if all she does is insult and berate them, and ramble on incessantly? She has to be the most obnoxious character in this. Either way, much of the character chemistry is almost non-existent because the writer spends so much time on spoofing these characters from the eighties, he’s never really able to add a sense of humanity to them. Sure, the eighties were goofy, and sure, this is a slasher film, but what the concept should do is break out from what it’s attempting to pull off and twist it further instead of adhering to the restrictions the slashers then were bound to. This never did develop a plot outside its comedic concept; it’s all good and well to spoof the eighties, but there was never a real plot with it.

Why was the killer killing people? What was the point? Why was the camp so deserted when this all originally happened? Why did these four people get warped back in to time and not anyone else? I just couldn’t really understand. Meanwhile, we’re subjected to comedy that is sometimes truly cringe inducing and the occasional nugget that ends up just being incredibly in poor taste. The whole “Next time you decide to get an abortion, use a coat hanger” was really just too in poor taste to be considered funny and all I could do was cringe , and in the end the film just really had the unnecessary subtext of abortion that wasn’t really needed at all. The film does also end up suffering from choppy editing that just made this incredibly confusing and jumbling. the character Mario sees the victim from across the lake dead on a dock, and within a second he’s beside him, many people are hung about two inches off the ground and as hard as director Pucci attempts to convince the audience of the scene, the editing just completely ruins any hope of illusion. The film suffers from incredibly out of place anachronisms and inconsistencies.

Jen constantly refers to the serial killer Jason and no one seems to know who the character Jason is, even considering that “Friday the 13th Part 2” which introduced Jason was already released, every other character bears the whole seventies, early eighties fashion except for Nicole who is a rambling valley girl, however the valley girl talk didn’t originate until the mid eighties, and the whole headband thing was made more popular in the mid eighties with the exercise craze. The choppy editing strikes again with many, many inconsistencies that were just too sloppy to ignore; a girl is hit with a saw in the back but can get up and scream, the killer drives a knife repeatedly in to a victim but there’s no blood on the blade, Jen is with the group one moment but running with main character Angela the next, and both seem to know their way around and where to hide, plus it’s never explained how, and why these four ended up at the camp in a time warp. In the end there’s just the cheesy question mark climax that not only made zero sense, but had me just attempting to figure out “What was the point?”

The film continues twisting and turning the formula going on about itself as an average slasher forgetting the time warp, and then reverts in to a whodunnit as someone continues offing the campers and counselors until the gory climax that was actually quite enjoyable. Either Pucci and Gonzalez studied past slashers, or really know their horror because much of the film really brought me back to the “Friday the 13th” films and “Sleepaway Camp” which ends up mixing in to an enjoyable farce that jabs at but pays homage to the slasher drowning of the eighties. Much of the kills are very much similar to the kills in the “Friday the 13th films”, it’s obvious the makers love the films too, because we do get to see many deaths that were shown in the original franchise. The kills are very gruesome, and being a hardcore slasher fan, they kept my attention and really managed to entertain. While plot holes, lapses in logic, bad acting, sloppy editing, and un-involving characters bog this down, director Alex Pucci does manage to give this film a boost by turning this in to a very clever horror comedy that really knows how to be horror with brutal atmosphere, and really knows how to be funny when it wants to be.