Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Campfire Tales

This Halloween saw me sick at home in bed watching horror movies. I guess it could've been worse! I hadn't intended on watching so many movies about groups of camping individuals being picked off one by one, it just happened to turn out that way!

I began by watching Steve Miner's Friday the 13th Part III and, well, my love for it is well documented (warning: really old blog entry there. don't hold that against me) and it didn't fail to entertain me like it always has. It's everything I want a Friday the 13th movie to be, really. This franchise was never "scary", barring the occasional scene or two, and for me got most of its charms in distilling the clich├ęs of the era into a single finely made product. Friday the 13th Part III is fun, violent, inventive and looks great. Throw in the hilarity of the gloriously funny, but painful and unwatchable 3D and Part III remains my favourite entry in the franchise and the one I go to more frequently than any other and will likely remain that way until the franchise does a turn around from the nadir-skimming level it reached with the recent Michael Bay production from 2009. I don't watch these films to experience the visceral thrill that I would hope to get out of a Halloween film, so it works. As it turns out, I watched two Steve Miner films this Halloween (following Halloween H20) so maybe I should've watched Lake Placid to keep the unofficial Miner and camping themes going!

I followed that one up with two films I had never actually seen before (after swerves through Lake Mungo, Halloween and The Faculty) as I gave Tony Maylam's The Burning and Andrew Davis' The Final Terror a go. The Burning was a whole lotta fun and I actually liked it more than Friday the 13th, which had come out just one year before and obviously kicked the summercamp terror trend into high gear (neither are as good as Sleepaway Camp, but not much is). Gorgeous to look at, The Burning is a really efficient bit of filmmaking that I'm surprised isn't mentioned more often these days (especially with a cast that includes a cute and comedic Jason Alexander, Holly Hunter and Fischer Stevens and its origins as one of the first ever Miramax productions for Harvey and Bob Weinstein).

Oh sure, I could've done with a bit more action in the opening half rather than that really bizarre scene with the prostitute, which felt like it was from a completely different movie (one about unattractive prostitute), but the prologue and hospital sequence directly after are really great. The final showdown between the horribly burn victim and his camping prey is curiously unspectacular (it involves a lot of walking and looking and walking), but the whole thing is is still immensely enjoyable if you're into this particular type of horror filmmaking. The first half is actually very quiet on the horror front, but is never boring. Things soon pick up with the slaying and the maiming and the killling, and then there is, of course, that glorious raft sequence that earned The Burning a place on the list of UK's "video nasties". Seemingly realising that barely anybody had actually been killed so far in this film, the filmmakers went about killing five people in rapid succession. Lovely.

Having grown up in a country that doesn't have these summer camps, I always wonder if they're all at like what the movies suggest. Not so much with the stabbing and the slicing, but everything else? Are they really a place where young people are so opening sexual (there's a scene in The Burning where Jason Alexander, clearly the inspiration for Morgan Freeman's character in The Shawshank Redemption, hands out copies of porno magazines to the younger campers)? Are they little more than an extension of high school with bullying and cool/uncool cliques? Are all American summer camps located in such stunning scenery? I remember watching bad movies like Camp Cucamonga (with a young Jennifer Aniston and Urkle!) and Ernest Goes to Camp and wondering what it was all about. Why didn't Australia have this? Hmmm.

Nevertheless, The Burning? Yeah. The Burning! If I had one confusion about the whole thing, it was that I didn't understand why Cropsy (the killer, so called after his weapon of choice) was targeting these kids. It's not like Mrs Voorhees/Jason who target kids who come to "their" camp. No, Cropsy just seems to wanna kill these people who had nothing to do with his horrible disfigurement at a camp that wasn't even the one he worked at. It kind of all came together in the end, but I still wasn't buying it.

The third and final campers in peril horror title I watched was of a different vain, The Final Terror. Not so much about a pack of horny, loud school-aged kids at a summer camp, as it is a bunch of "forest rangers" and their girlfriends going camping. It lacks the sunny spooks of other films in the genre, preferring a palate of deep blues, greens and blacks that occasionally make the action undecipherable (to be fair, I was watching a VHS-quality transfer). This, however, gives it a far more menacing tone, especially when director Andrew Davis stages wonderful sequences of the villain (a strange, camouflaged, squealing monster person) stalking. One of note, by far the scariest scene in any of the three films discussed in this entry, comes about when the terrified campers seek refuge in a bus only to be taunted from all sides by the maniacal beast. It's a doozy of a scene and I just wish The Final Terror had more of them.

One other thing I liked was that the characters here are, compared to most other films of a similar kind, relatively smart. Apart from obvious stupidity to kick off the plot, they actually have an idea or two about camping and about survival in the wilderness. They devise plans when in trouble and more often than not realise when they're doing something wrong. Having Rachel Ward certainly helps, with her authoritative British tones proving to be an almost soothing presence, although nothing can help Daryl Hannah who proves here that she was always a terrible actress and will almost never not be one (Quentin Tarantino notwithstanding). If there are too many scenes of characters walking around going nowhere and doing nothing then that's a shame, but I was quite surprised that The Final Terror turned out to be less of a fun slasher romp than I was expecting than a twisting of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Not as good, not even close, as that one, but somewhat impressive nonetheless. And far better than anything remotely suggested by the opening scene, so poorly acted that I thought I was set for a funny trip down bad 1980s slasher lane.

I was mainly just thankful they were all better than Cheerleader Camp!


Anonymous said...

As reported by Deadspin, he leads the bandat the
Oasis Christian Church of the Antelope Valley, where his
family surprised Sorrentino with a custom pocket pussy
series. Estabamos rodeados con grasa de tortuga,
marina, sol por eso, saqu� mi pistola.

My site :: male masturbation

Anonymous said...

If you are planning to buy fleshlight, there are sex toys
that can offer women endless amounts of pleasure.
Bulgaria is also set to join the service would hurt
recruiting and retention. They can tell the app to sync individual folders, but it should however be mentioned
that this forms only a small subset of them turn you on,
she's busy with something else. Ye observes that this rare type of mushroom is found deep underground, and was enjoyable overall.