Saturday, July 18, 2009

Body Count (Camping del Terrore) (1987)

In my book, I have a theory that a horror film can sometimes be summed up on its obscurity factor alone. Though I don't have many films on my list that actually prove that, I like to believe that it's fathomable. For example, my previous post for the ultra-obscure Last House on Dead End Street. Had never heard of it until a few years ago, never laid eyes on it until just the other night and though it didn't completely meet my expectations, it came pretty damn close. 
Body Count better known as the awesomely-alternately-titled Camping del Terrore

(Oh, come on, where have you heard of another horror film with a name that is cooler that that?), was one of those films that I'd heard about back in the day but never saw that it really existed. It was one of those that I'd heard about and read about but never really knew if it was a film that was actually in print, or one those that was mere hype. The reason I felt that way was because in all of my years as a horror aficionado, I had never seen, nor to this day have I seen, this film in print be it on VHS or DVD. So I did what every collector would do in this situation: Hit up Ebay. And of course, no luck. And if I did see it for sale, of course it went for silly money.

I posted a note on iMDB about this film and I got an email several weeks later from a fellow collector in the lovely state of New Jersey who told me that he would be happy to forward me a (legitimate) copy of the film to screen for this blog. Of course, I accepted and within about two week's time, I was sitting in front of my big screen television, popping this one in. I will forever hold the grudge against him that he didn't pass along a word of warning about this little ditty.

The plot is quite simple: A gang of college kids take a trip to the dark woods of Colorado during their Summer vacation to sort of "get away" from everything. While scouting the area, they run across a young hitchhiker named Ben who will lead them to his father's campsite out in the country. The place is located in the middle of nowhere and it appears at first glance to be the perfect place to spend the weekend. What these kids don't know is that the camp sort of has a "reputation" that involves an old local legend of a Shaman- half-man, half-beast. to believe, As they spent more time there they all realize one by one that the Shaman is indeed real and it's ready to kill them. Seems like a plot we can all relate to, right? Wow, I couldn't have been more wrong. If you know my taste in old-school horror, there is nothing I love more than to sit with some popcorn, a cold Pepsi and watch a stalk-and-slash film. As cookie-cutter as all stalk-and-slash films are (with the exception of a few hidden gems out there like Curtains and Maniac), I can easily overlook that minor flaw and give the film I'm screening the benefit of the doubt. But this one, sadly, was an exception to the rule.

First of all, the print I received was the darkest, murkiest thing I'd seen since Humongous, a film known for it's dark and almost completely unwatchable night footage. This was just as bad. Some of the death scenes occur at night and it was almost impossible to see what was going on. But that wasn't the most frustrating thing about this film. The pace is quite slow, the storyline wasn't able to keep my attention, but most of all: What a waste of David Hess! Every horror fan who has seen him in film like Last House on the Left or The House on the Edge of the Park knows and loves what this man can bring to a role. Forget Jason and Freddy, Krug was the man you loved to hate! There is brutal honesty when you put Hess in a role, especially as a villain. But to see him in one where he doesn't even play the bad guy? What the hell? I'm not used to seeing him as a passive father. But I digress. The only thing that was worse was knowing that this snoozer was directed by non-other than Cannibal Holocaust director Rugero Deotato who also helmed The House on the Edge of the Park. Let's not go there, shall we?

Long story short, the shaman does still exist (or does he?) and the kids get picked off one by one in bloody fashions blah-blah-blah. Usually in this genre of film there is always at least one thing that I can claim as a redeeming feature be it an actor who I can mark as the "eye candy" of the film (where in this case there was none), or a particular gore scene that caught my eye (where, also, in this case there was none). The only thing that came close was the film's final scene which left the view to decide if the shaman-beast in question really did exist. I can't go as far as to say that this is the worst slasher-in-the-words picture I've seen - that honor goes to The Prey - but it should have been a hell of a lot more than it was. For all the time I spent searching for this - no offense to Michael who was nice enough to send this film to me - there was absolutely no pay off. Unless you're a collector of Deodato's films or are a die-hard David Hess fan, there really is no point in seeking this one out solely on merit alone. As obscure and as hard to find as this film is, after seeing it, I've realized there's a reason...


Tower Farm said...

I read somewhere that this is a "lost slasher classic" and have been dying to see it ever since.

Now...not so much...

Thanks for saving me the time and energy!!


LeonelB said...

Well, back in the day, I'd read the same thing - that it was a "must see if you love slashers-in-the-woods films". This doesn't even come close to classics like "The Burning" or "Just Before Dawn". I mean, if you're a slasher completist, by all means see it if your can get your hands on it. But don't come crying to me wanting that hour and 1/2 of your life back. LOL =) Thanks for commenting!