Like many horror fans, I grew up watching the woodsy slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s. Friday the 13th, Madman, The Burning and Just Before Dawn, to name a few. The slasher film ruled horror in the '80s, but by the end of the decade found itself becoming increasingly unoriginal and unsuccessful at the box office. The sub-genre never really died but it did see a resurgence in the mid-'90s thanks to films like Wes Craven's Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. The '90s revival was short lived but, once again, the slasher film never truly died.
In the past decade or so, we've seen a rise in "throwback slashers" attempting to capture the evocative charm of the slasher's golden years, with some succeeding and others, well, not so much...
The Barn, Dude Bro Party Massacre III, and The Final Girls are just a few of the more recent gems that have been able to scratch that nostalgic itch, and we can now add Killer Campout from West Virginia-based director Brad Twigg (Frames of Fear, Milfs vs. Zombies) to that list. Let's head to the forest for a little rest and relaxation! Oh, and don't forget the buckets of blood and guts!
In Killer Campout, two youth counselors bring a group of emotionally troubled teens deep into the woods for a weekend of solitude and confrontational therapy. The trip turns deadly when they are terrorized by a cannibalistic hermit with a thirst for blood. Sound familiar? Of course it does! Twigg and co-writers James L. Edwards (WrestleMassacre) and Matt Hill (Hi-8, Sleepless Nights) take obvious inspiration from other classic splatterfests of yesteryear, but sometimes the simplistic approach is the best one to take. Unlike other filmmakers who've failed to create a satisfying "throwback" of sorts, Twigg and crew have perfectly captured the tone of what made the classics so great. The kills are brutal, unforgiving and plentiful, the acting is...uhm, did I mention how fantastic the kills are? I mean, who watches a slasher film for its acting anyways?
The killer in the film is sadistic and unrelenting, sometimes stopping after a fresh kill to admire his handiwork and enjoy a tasty bite to eat. His motives for the slayings are left unknown, leaving the viewer to ponder what it took for him to reach such disturbing levels of depravity. There's also an abundant amount of bare breasts and butts on display here, but what kind of madman would leave those out of a film of this nature?! Not Brad Twigg, that's for certain!
The gore effects are undoubtedly well-done too, with several taking place on-screen. The unsuspecting human fodder are hacked, slashed, sliced, diced and impaled in ways that are sure to satiate the appetites of those who admire cheesy practical effects. Don't go in expecting Marcus Koch levels of greatness, but its clear that care was taken to make the death scenes convincing enough on camera. It's also worth noting that horror legend Herschell Gordon Lewis (Gore Gore Girls, Blood Feast) does the opening voiceover and John Russo (Night of the Living Dead) has a small role in the film, both minor but immensely appreciated treats.
Now, with a presentation of this kind, there's obviously a few inadequacies, such as sub-par acting, hokey sound mixing and an unoriginal plot are all on display here, but while viewing the movie, I kept reminding myself that this flick was made by someone who appreciates the sub-genre, and this is a tribute to films like the ones mentioned at the beginning of this review. If you keep that in mind while viewing Killer Campout, you'll find it considerably easier to stomach.
Overall, Killer Campout isn't a film that sets the genre back years in progression, nor does it advance it in terms of originality, but if you desire a film that'll give the same warm and fuzzy feelings as the quintessential slasher classics, you'll be pleased by what this one has to offer. Killer Campout is a fun indie venture that never takes itself too seriously, and I enjoyed every moment of it, deficiencies and all. Just hit play, toss back a few cold ones and let this gore-filled homage transport you back to 1981!
Killer Campout is now available on DVD from Wild Eye Releasing. The DVD includes a short behind-the-scenes montage, a music video, and Wild Eye trailers.