When you hear the words “Camp Blood”, naturally if you’re a horror fan, you think of Friday The 13th and Camp Crystal Lake’s infamous nickname. Way back in 2000, writer/director Brad Sykes attempted to try and make the words mean something else with his slasher, Camp Blood. Two sequels later, and it’s writer/director Mark Polonia’s turn to try and get people talking with his film Camp Blood: First Slaughter (which oddly subtitles itself Camp Blood 3, apparently ignoring Sykes’ Camp Blood 3). Naming conventions aside, First Slaughter is just what you’d expect from a made-on-the-cheap, amateur-acting slasher involving a killer with a clown mask.
In a challenge to her sparsely-attended urban legends class, Professor Mallory asks her students to debunk the local “Clown of Camp Blood” legend. The legend tells the story of a machete-wielding masked maniac who over the decades has been credited with at least thirty-five deaths in a remote wooded area affectionately nicknamed “Camp Blood”. Over the weekend, her class of six head out to the woods to learn what they can about the legend and to document all their findings, but are never to be heard from again. Three months later, footage of their fateful trip is discovered and aired on television, revealing the horrifying truth of “Camp Blood”.
Well, to begin, it’s obvious that this film isn’t going the high road when it comes to slashers. That said, the film attempts to try and go the “found footage” route that while frankly has been done to death by now, can still surprise when done right. That doesn’t happen here, but that’s expected. Gore-wise, it’s your cheap effects blended with CGI. Nothing overly impressive, but I guess you take what you can get. The same can be applied to the acting, where predictably it’s amateur hour for everyone involved.
The best compliment that I can give the film is that Mark Polonia and his team tried to do the best that they could with the given budget and resources. They clearly love the genre and set out to try and do something that was in the B-movie realm and in the “so bad that it’s good” category.
Needless to say, they failed spectacularly.
Enough pussyfooting around: this is a bad movie. This isn’t one of those “so bad that it’s good” films a la Sharknado, Sharktopus, or whatever flavour-of-the-month SciFi has going that week for it’s original movie. Those films are bad enough to get you passed out from alcohol consumption. Camp Blood: First Slaughter is more akin to getting drunk enough to throw your emptys at the screen in a rage. No amount of alcohol will make this film palatable. Aside from the flat acting, the stupidity of the characters and the ruining of gore effects with overblown CGI aside (seriously, using the same bloodsplat effect for practically every kill?), the biggest no-no is forgetting your main premise of the film: the found footage gimmick. Take your found footage (which for some reason contains shots that have the perfect angle when the camera is dropped), but edit it together with cutaways and throw in footage of the killer’s POV. Also, don’t forget cliché video glitches and fast-forwarding, which rarely do much of anything. I know that it’s been over a decade since The Blair Witch Project, but there are things in that film which still hold up today that many of these low-budget films just don’t use.
So to say that I didn’t have the greatest time with Camp Blood: First Slaughter would be correct. Maybe it’s because I didn’t get loaded while watching the film, which in all honesty I couldn’t since I’d probably end up in the hospital from alcohol poisoning or severe bleeding from punching my TV screen. Regardless, if there are those of you who are fans of the series, you probably won’t listen to what I’ve said and just go ahead and buy the DVD. Well, that’s your choice. For me, I’ll stick with something that’s a little easier on my liver.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is just what you’d expect from a film like this, with the colour saturation being suspect and some downright distracting chromatic aberration in the outdoor scenes. There’s also some artifacting, but it’s hard to tell if that’s actually part of the presentation or the fault of the encoding. As for the audio, the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is similarly on the cheap, with the post effects such as music sounding clearer than the dialogue. I guess there was no money left for ADR.