Triskaidekafiles

Triskaidekafiles is a love letter to cheesy cinema from the 80s and 90s, with the occasional dip into other eras.  if you're a fan of MST3K, Elvira, Joe Bob Briggs, or just bad horror movies in general, Trisk is the place for you.

Camp Fear

CAMP FEAR

WRITER: Thom Keith

DIRECTOR: Thom Keith

STARRING: Vincent Van Patten as Professor Hamilton
    Betsy Russell as Jamie
    Nels Van Patten as Speedy
    Peggy Sands as Tiffany
    David Homb as Bill
    Mindy Myer as Melissa
    Mike Diamant as Frog
    Mark Twogood as Gas Jockey
    Buck Flowers as Wino
    Tiny Ron as The Druid

QUICK CUT: A group of college students head up into the mountains for an archaeological dig, and uncover an ancient site of druid rituals!

THE MORGUE

    Professor Hamilton - A totally cool dude professor, who's just one of the girls...er, guys.  Honestly, with his age, and friendliness with the students, you would forget he's a teacher, and it's clearly only there to move the plot into the woods.

    Jamie - Mark's girlfriend, and like most women in this movie, she doesn't get much of a personality beyond that.

    Tiffany - Not the best actor amongst this bunch.  All her statements are grossly exaggerated, and yet she's fun and bubbly, and bears an annoying resemblance to Patricia Arquette in looks and voice.

    Melissa - Another of the students, and she's the computer geek, but that's kinda mean.  She has a laptop that she uses to help the plot, but that's more than the rest of the group.  So if "owns a computer" would make you the token geek of your friends in 1991, that applies

 Great, the movie is mooning me.

Great, the movie is mooning me.

THE GUTS: Welcome back, Triskelions!  The 200th review is done, but that has caused a bit of a setback on our Summer of Slashers.  So let's hurry back in the jeep and start our drive back up the mountain.  We've gotta get to Camp Fear...master of the pan flute!

Before we get started into the real meat on this bone, this movie came with an impressive list of sights to see along the trails listed on the back of the DVD, and here it is in its entirety...

CampFearChecklist_00001.jpg

That is one impressive pile of things this movie has!  It has everything, possibly even the kitchen sink!  I'm gonna keep my eyes out for these things while we travel into the mountains.  I need to to see if this movie truly delivers on its promises.

We get things rolling with a rather lengthy scene in a sorority house, meeting half the canon fodder for the movie.  But more importantly, the scenes are there to show all the women in various states of undress, lingerie, and taking showers.  And while this borders on softcore porn, and mindless titilation at best...I've actually seen far worse acting.  But we do get to check off our first checklist item of porn star in the shower!

CampFearChecklist_00002.jpg
 Just a bunch of gals being pals.

Just a bunch of gals being pals.

CAP: Just a bunch of gals being pals.

The important plot point during this entire series of scenes, is that most of the girls are heading to Palm Springs during their break from school, but our cast is doing something far more exciting; camping!  Ugh, can I come with y'all to Palm Springs and skip out on this?  No one should be this excited to go hiking in the woods with a professor when the alternative is party time in Palm Springs.

Next up in our cast gathering excercise, is picking up that professor as we run into Professor Hamilton. He's taking a break from helping out Superman, I guess, to teach these girls about how our spring rites are watered down symbols and such.  And I am sorry, but this guy can't be much older than his classmates.  This is like Doogie Howser teaching med students.

I'll give Professor Mullet points though for teaching with enthusiasm.  I wish I had more teachers like him.  Sadly, most of these early scenes are played for laughs, and it's hard to get into them when one of the girls is rocking out with her headphones in the middle of class with such fervor that she doesn't even notice the earthquake rolling through.

Professor Mullet sure notices though, and he freaks out, because he's new to California.  He jokes about angering the gods with his talk about watering down ceremonies, but oh, he's not far wrong.

 Y'know, maybe she's more a Not Piper Perabo than Not Patricia Arquette.

Y'know, maybe she's more a Not Piper Perabo than Not Patricia Arquette.

Okay, we have gathered our cast, we can get up into the woods and kill them off, let's go!  ...Let's go!  Let's...let's go?  Or sure, we can not do that, and instead head to a club for drinks and dancing first.  This movie is in no hurry to get to the actual plot is it?  But that does get us to the next item on our list...

CampFearChecklist_00003.jpg

But more earthquakes hit while the gang is chilling, and the girls point out that they deal with this stuff all the time, but it's been happening a lot more lately.  Professor Mullet suggests that maybe it's a sign of the end times, and *ahem* the Apoculipse.  Best new word since skadoot.

Finally, it's time to head into the woods though, and they kidnapped Not Patricia Arquette for the ride!  AND they tossed her onto the trailer being hauled behind them.  AND they didn't bother to get her dressed.  So when they stop at the Last Chance Gas Station, she might as well be naked as the attendant and wino check her out.

Professor Mullet asks for directions, and oh, classic bad movie moment;  "Is this the way to Mystic Lake...er, Mystic Mountain??"  He totally flubbed his line, and they totally just left it in.

 I'd like to talk to you about the Alcoholics Initiative.

I'd like to talk to you about the Alcoholics Initiative.

The local yokels tell him the mountain is a tough hike, and most of the ways up there have been ruined by the earthquakes and who knows what else.  Oh, and the wino claims there's demons up in them thar hills.  I guess we know what happened to Uncle Ty after Just Before Dawn.

And because we need another plot complication, Hammerhead and his bikers ride over from Beasties.  They'll be troubling our students when the monsters aren't doing their jobs.  So, for most of the movie, really.  And that's another sight on the list checked off!

CampFearChecklist_00004.jpg

The gang settles down for the night, but see a campfire in the distance.  They go to investigate and find a Native American harbinger warning them of the dangers that should eventually find their way into the plot.

Not Patricia Arquette asks if there's a serial killer or maniac in the woods, and not this time out, kid!  Those are the other movies we're watching!

Also, there's some magic herbs and spices the Native American is using, and Professor Mullet takes some to use, just in case.  Number of times he actually uses them in the upcoming course of events: Zero.  They get mentioned once more, and that's it.

We're 30 minutes in, and in danger of having something happening, so the movie wheels the bikers back in from wherever they were going, to harass the the gas station some more.

 Ceiling Bull is watching you appropriate.

Ceiling Bull is watching you appropriate.

Our campers can't drive any further, hike for a bit, and find a nice campsite to stop and rest.  Because heaven forbid we actually get to the plot.  All y'all are doing is stopping and resting.  This is Stop and Rest: The Movie.

At least we've got the cameraman lurking in the woods, so we're slowly getting there.  Very slowly.  Seriously, the bikers have been a longer, more consistent threat than anything else thus far.

Professor Mullet and Jamie have wandered off into the woods to have sex, but once lunch is ready, Not Patricia Arquette goes looking for them.  She fortunately runs into something and falls out of the plot.  Finally.  Halfway through the movie and we're getting somewhere.  If this was your typical horror movie, the Prof and his girl would be attacked by whatever's in the woods.

And of course, professor and Mary Anne wander back to the camp while everyone is lost in the woods looking for them.  But they're just in time for the biker's to show up for morning coffee.

 So, how about some extra credit, teach?

So, how about some extra credit, teach?

The bikers are bummed out that the other three girls have all gone missing, so while most of them hang around to keep the prof company, their leader sends Speedy out to find the women.

He quickly does just that, at least with the two that went looking for Not Patricia Arquette.  He wants to know where the blonde disappeared to, and they say they think she was kidnapped by some religious cult.  That...that's random.  But okay?  It would've been nice to see why they think that, but fine.

Oh, and the music's great six note action packed thrilling exciting score kicks in.  Seriously, it's like the same six notes banged out rapidly, at varying volumes, to show you things are tense.  And like all the best horror scores, it is so very 80s.

Night has fallen again, and Ace sends Frog to go find Speedy...great, a whole jolly club with jolly pirate nicknames.  With their numbers whittled down, Professor Mullet makes his move, and pushes one of the bikers into the campfire, so Jamie can get away in all the confusion.

 Ah here we see a specimen of the rare one-armed phoenix.

Ah here we see a specimen of the rare one-armed phoenix.

The Foley work is almost as amazing as the music.  You've got amazing pitter patter of feet as they run around the forest, and the classic fist punching slabs of steak.

Back with the girls running from Speedy, who is not living up to his name here so I can only assume it refers to how he is in bed, are now stumbling through the dark.  They decide to dive into the river and swim across to try and lose him.

The problem is, Melissa is SURE there is something out there!!  And much like the cult kidnapping thing, that's a bit of a leap.  Maybe, oh, I dunno, if you're gonna have characters assert things, maybe have them see things to back up their claims?  All they know is they can't find their friends, two of whom are back at...well, Jamie's on the run, but I digress.

Anyways, Speedy ditches his shoes and follows them into the river...and he quickly gets eaten by a sea monster.  ...  ...  I...what?  Where did THAT come from?  Camp Fear spends 45 minutes wandering in the woods doing nothing, then it has stuff happen with ZERO set up.  You know what you could've been doing in that first half of the movie?  Setting things up to pay off later!

 No Dino, down, down Dino!!

No Dino, down, down Dino!!

But that does give us one more tick on our checklist, Loch Ness Monster!  Even though last I checked, Loch Ness was not in California...

 ...Close enough.

...Close enough.

And we don't even get to catch our breath when the next tickbox gets marked when GIANT DRUIDS ATTACK!  I'll say, I wasn't expecting it, and they delivered.

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Lothar of the Hill People grabs the two girls and carts them off to his cave, where they find Not Patricia Arquette is Not Dead Yet.  Yet again, her body has been violated in her sleep and her clothes have been changed.

Exposition Lass uses her plot macguffin laptop that she's been dragging all over the mountain to translate the handy plot point tablets to discover what the hell is going on; every thousand years, virgin sacrifices must be made to the water god by the druids to appease them for another 1000 years.  Well shit.  We just stumbled into the plot of Cabin in the Woods.

But this raises a number of questions.  Why is the water god being unhappy causing EARTHquakes?  Why if the druids were wiped out 2000 years ago, why is there one still around?  Is he magic?  Does he sleep?  Has he been the same lost one since the time of Christ?  Or is he the latest in a long line of hill people?  Why hasn't he learned a word of English or ANY language in that time?  What's he been doing?  What if the god's timeline didn't line up perfectly with the calendar created long after it came into existence?  What if the Apoculipse was scheduled for 2016?

 Where is it?  Where is the rocket?  The rocket.  Where is it?

Where is it?  Where is the rocket?  The rocket.  Where is it?

Oh, and speaking of earthquakes, one of those hits, breaking the chains from the cave walls, so two of the girls can try to escape.  Melissa makes her way out of the cave, and finds Stonehenge 2 sitting in the forests of California, because why not at this point?

Melissa sees Professor Mullet and Jamie in the distance, tells them to come help, but the last druid shows up to yell at them, then seals the girls back in the cave with a giant rock.

Professor Mullet and Jamie head back to the bikers, knowing they need more canon fodder...er, muscle to get the job done.  This is when the professor mentions the herbs and spices he took, but he never uses them, and they're never seen or heard from again.

 Stonehenge! Where the virgins lie, And the prayers of devils fill the midnight sky

Stonehenge! Where the virgins lie, And the prayers of devils fill the midnight sky

Before any of that can happen though, Lothar shows up to kidnap Jamie and complete his collection.  The two girls who are free go and hide in the shadows so Not Patricia Arquette can be manhandled by the druid some more.

They hide out while Lothar continues his preparations, including giving Not Patricia Arquette a cup and urging her to drink the contents.

She finds the taste foul, and spits it out, though.  So Lothar forces her to drink it, and it's not like she can do anything to stop the jolly green druid.

 Ugh, green beer on St. Patrick's Day is so cliche.

Ugh, green beer on St. Patrick's Day is so cliche.

Lothar goes searching through the tunnels for the missing girls, while Not Patricia Arquette gives the plot synopsis to Jamie once she wakes up.  She starts to actually buy into the hype, as Stockholm syndrome sets in quick with the blonde.  With all these weird earthquakes, maybe the druid is right, and the sacrifices DO need to be made!

Wow, she *literally* drank the Kool-Aid on this one.  Fortunately, the druid finds the other two girls, and now with his collection complete, he can prepare and display them for his god.

Back at the camp, Professor Mullet uses the bikers' desires to bang hot chicks to get them chasing after the girls down at the lake.  Finally, things are moving to get this movie wrapped up.

 California Women in the Apoculipse Jungle of Death

California Women in the Apoculipse Jungle of Death

With Not Patricia Arquette firmly under his sway, Lothar has her try and give the other girls their own green beer, but they smash the bottle.  There's this thing the druid does, every time things don't go his way, he looks so *upset* and hurt, and disappointed, like he wants to say, "But I am trying to save the world!  Why don't you want to help me??  Sure it means your own deaths, but it's for the greater good! :("

As the girls drink up, whether they want to or not, the guys reach the lake, and see Speedy's jacket floating in the water.

Frog gets sent out to retrieve it, but only finds...well, I presume he finds Champ, but we don't see anything.  Mmm, watch that budget run dry!

 The holy druid smoke machine!

The holy druid smoke machine!

Back at Stonehenge 2, the druid is getting everything ready, and pulls out a giant diamond or gemstone that is super important, and starts the altar fogging everything up.  I mean, this gem most be so important, because we never saw it up until this point.

Professor Mullet and the Bikers from Nowhere show up just in time to see Not Patricia Arquette get her throat slashed, checking off the last item on our tour schedule!

CampFearChecklist_00007.jpg

They rush down before another girl can be killed, and the biker leader uses his knife to reflect the light coming from the statue through the gem back at the druid and sets him on...fire?  Cyclops' optic blasts do not work that way!!  Neither do most lasers!

 WARNING: Druids under pressure are highly flammable!

WARNING: Druids under pressure are highly flammable!

So with the bad guy dead, the guys save the girls, and hey, they sure got friendly real quick with the bikers, huh?  The Apoculipse makes for strange bedfellows, I guess.

Anyways, Professor Mullet goes to save Jamie from the altar, and he leans RIGHT IN FRONT of the altar that was shooting out the focused laser beam, because druids know lasers.  How come HE doesn't burst into flames??  I mean, the scene should've gone like, "Jamie, wake up!  You have to AAAIIEE MY MASSIVE AMOUNT OF HAIR IS ON FIRE!!"

The gang has to try and wrap this up as they drag their wounded out of the forest, and Melissa actually says, "But the hologram said there had to be four sacrifices!"  WHAT HOLOGRAM!?  Now we're just making shit up.  There was no hologram!  Where was Zordon??  He would've improved this turkey!  Him and his five teenagers with attitude!

I mean, maybe the explanation as to why the world isn't ending is simply that the whole thing was bullshit and the druids were WRONG and the gods don't need sacrifices...but I guess they'd rather go the other route, and discover the wino's jacket, and surmise he wandered into the lake to feed the beast and stop the DTs...er, earthquakes.

But don't worry, if you guys screwed up and the gods are angry, the Cabin in the Woods team will try again next year with another group of sacrifices!

Mullet Mark actually has the balls to say that this millennium, this dawn of the new age, will be a good one, as long as we keep the faith.  Well, first off, I am sixteen years into the new millennium, and we've apparently done a shit job of that.

Secondly, what does keeping the faith mean?  Keeping the druid traditions alive, to make sure someone saves the world in another 1000 years?  With human sacrirfices??

 Gosh, for a guy who wanted to rape me a few hours ago, I guess you're not half bad!

Gosh, for a guy who wanted to rape me a few hours ago, I guess you're not half bad!

And I swear, I never thought a movie's credits would piss me off.  Just as I'm ready to throw my hands up at this movie being over, this travesty of errors begins.  First off, the end credits list Mark as "Proffessor" mispelling the word.  Second of all, the third name in the opening credits is NOT listed in the end credits.  AT ALL.  I hit IMDB and see she was a minor character extra, and is uncredited.  Why the high early billing?!  And another actress gets her name spelled two different ways in the opening and ending credits.  What.  A.  Mess.  From beginning to end, and top to bottom.

AUTOPSY REPORT

Video: It's fuzzy, but acceptable.  I would've liked more contrast, and sharper images, but for this no budget campfest, it is exactly what you'd expect.

Audio: Same here.  It's acceptable and decent enough.

Sound Bite: Apoculipse.  That is all.

Body Count: I'm surprised there wasn't more, with all the people in this movie, and a hungry sea...lake monster.  But it does take a long way to get going.

1 - 54 minutes, biker gets eaten by Champ.
2 - Frog gets eaten by the dislocated Nessie
3 - Tiffany gets her throat slashed for sacreificial purposes.
4 - Druid goes up in flames thanks to a reflected red dot.
5 - Buck managed to not have the kids set him on fire again, but he walked out to be eaten by Champ.

Best Corpse: Well, three of them happen kinda off camera, or so far in the murky distance as to not matter.  Tiffany gets the point with a nice neck slash in camera, even with very, very crayola red blood.

Blood Type - D+: Aside from the slash, there's very little blood, but I give credit for trying.  And gee, if we ever saw the drowned god, I would've given even more.

Sex Appeal: The women can not keep their clothes on for the first ten minutes of the movie, not so much after that.

Drink Up! Every time Tiffany's overacting makes you laugh.

Video Nasties: I rarely go for the final battle type stuff, but the druid is fun.  And fire!

Movie Review: I am going to be generous to this movie.  It actually has a plot, and it has ideas, and it generally follows a line from start to finish.  It botches the ENTIRE JOURNEY though.  It doesn't set things up, it speaks of things we never see, we don't get the sea monster, and it's way too padded with that first half.  I largely suspect they put ALL that titillation in the first few minutes to get horny boys to stick around on the off chance there was more, a promise that is never quite fulfilled.  But it's a crafty way to hold on to an audience.  The movie has solid ideas and an interesting plot, that is just utterly mishandled.  But having an actual story saves the day, with three out of five girls in the shower.

Entertainment Value: This movie has a surprising amount of charm.  With those first few minutes of borderline softcore porn from Skinemax, the level of acting is surprising.  Sure, there are no Orson Welles here, but almost everyone is fairly believable, and not wooden.  The one standout is Tiffany, who delivers every line with such gusto and camp, I forgive it entirely.  She's a blast.  The random, meandering plot is actually never *boring*, and the competent level of acting doesn't frustrate you watching utterly terrible actors stumble through lines.  And of course, the last half is a blast, once things get going.  The repeated occurrences of nonsensical things also keeps the fun times going, and laughs coming.  I had a blast watching this trainwreck, four out of five goblets of green ooze.