Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Campfire Tales (1997)

Campfire Tales (USA, 1997) - Color, Director(s): Matt Cooper, Martin Kunert, David Semel
MPAA Rating: R
[UK: 18]
Approx. 88 min.

Z-rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

Cheese Factor: 5 stars out of 5

The movie begins in black and white during a heavy make-out session between Cyclops and the girl from Crank, when she sees something twinkling in the darkness. What could it be? Is it a vampire from Twilight? No, I guess they only sparkle in the sun. Whatever it is, it seems to be getting closer with each flash. Freaked out, the girl demands that Cyclops take her home. They stop by a burger joint on the way home and that's when Cyclops notices the severed hook hand hanging on the car door!

Cue the intro and the mood has now been set for a movie that is reminiscent of old urban legends or, obviously, creepy stories told around a campfire. The fact that the DVD begins with handful of stock screams and sound effects before you even get to the menu clues you into the fact that this is probably not going to be a big budget production. This movie is cheap and feels more like an extended episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?

"Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society..."

What follows are 3 segments and the wraparound story. A group of teens are driving recklessly in the middle of the night when they accidentally swerve off the road. While waiting for help to arrive, they start up a campfire and begin telling scary stories to help pass the time. The first story told is titled "Honeymoon" and is about a couple on their way to Vegas in an RV when a stranger with a shotgun warns them they're being stalked by an mysterious creatures. They try to make it to the nearest highway but run out of gas. The husband goes looking for a gas station but never makes it back...

"I'm telling you, this is going to be GREAT!"

The second segment, "People Can Lick Too" is like a pedophile's bedtime story. A young girl is left at home by her older sister who's supposed to be babysitting her, when her online chat buddy turns out to be a pedo-stalker. She's left with her dog, Odin, to protect her but he's not the only thing that can "lick" as you probably gathered from the title. As for what he's licking...

It's her hand you sick pervert!

"The Locket" is about a guy riding cross country on his motorcycle when it breaks down in front of a house. When it starts to rain, he's forced to take refuge inside and is surprised to be welcomed by a beautiful but mute girl. During the night, he begins hearing strange noises and realizes that the house is haunted by a repeater. Spirits in the house relive a horrible incident every night and the motorcycle stranger is almost drawn into the violence when a malevolent spirit takes a swing at him with an axe. Luckily, he escapes with the girl and they wake up the next morning to a beautiful sunny day under a tree. He's brushing her hair as she sleeps but soon finds out the terrible secret behind her locket...

Nudity: Nothing fantastic, you get to see a little side boob when the Honeymoon couple finishes having sex in the RV. That's about it.

Gore: There are a few gruesome scenes like the guy finding a lower jaw separated from its owner, but the movie overall doesn't even come close to your average slasher.

Awesome: This movie doesn't even compare to the likes of Trick 'r Treat or even Creepshow, but the reason this movie makes the list for me is because of the storytelling. I wouldn't exactly call it "scary" but the way the stories are told definitely reminded me of urban legends. If you try to make sense of the story after it's told, you might find some plot holes. Urban legends aren't about realism though, they're just supposed to keep you interested until the big pay off at the end. "The Locket" is a perfect example of this type of storytelling. As for the movie itself, I wish they had a bigger budget because the "Honeymoon" segment might've been good if you actually got a good look at the creatures. They're credited as "Crow Men" at the end of the movie and I would've LOVED to have seen some elaborate monster effects there. Unfortunately, this was just a low-budget horror anthology that's great to have playing in the background while guests are still arriving.