Camp Dread (2014) DVD Review



Review by: Dave Wain

Stars: Danielle Harris, Eric Roberts, Kyle Patrick Brennan, Ashley Caspermeyer

Written by: Harrison Smith

UK Certification: 18

UK RRP: £9.99

UK DVD Region: 2

Runtime: 90 minutes

Directed by: Harrison Smith

UK Release Date: 23rd June 2014

Distributor: Image Entertainment

Harrison Smith’s previous scripts included the quite woeful Corey Feldman starring 6 Degrees of Hell and also The Fields which was slightly better and featured Tara Reid. For his directorial debut he goes a little more old school with many of this features roots fixed back in the 1980s with notable nods in particular to the underrated slasher classic Sleepaway Camp. In fact the nod is that apparent that it’s practically a headbutt with none other than Felissa Rose having a prominent role in the movie.

DREAD 002Julian Barrett was a renowned Hollywood director with his magnum opus being the Summer Camp trilogy of films that wowed cinema-goers back in the 1980s. Now though, time has moved on – as has Barrett’s career, and he’s determined to have another crack at the big time. Opportunity knocks in the form of a ‘reboot’ (such an offensive word!) of his classic horror series, albeit with a contemporary twist. With reality TV dominating our media, he feels that if he can lure a group of contestants to the famed camp and film them as they battle for survival then he should secure a hit.

The contestants are brought to the camp under the illusion that they’re simply on an out-of-bounds rehabilitation trip. After all, this crew of misfits consist of a mixture of killers, blackmailers and sexual predators, but early on Barrett breaks the news about the reality show aspect teasing them with the (as yet non-existent) prize money of $1 million. With original series star Rachel Steele (Rose) guiding the campers through what they’ll be doing as they battle each other for the prize money, they gradually begin to muster a competitive edge. As expected though things gradually become sinister, and it’s not long before a decidedly gruesome edge comes into play.

I have to admit the notion of Camp Dread was one that certainly arose some interest. I LOVE the Sleepaway Camp movies, and to watch something that knowingly tips its hat towards them gave the movie some much needed love to get me in the mood. Sadly this potential swiftly eroded away despite the welcome presence of Felissa Rose and a generic but always worthy Eric Roberts. I thought the film desperately struggled to get out of first gear as we had minimal gore in the opening half of the film. Instead we’re ‘treated’ to a certain degree of character development, but the individuals are written so that they offer little in the way of interest. They’re very clichéd too, and with them all having a notably nefarious background they elicit little empathy from the viewer.

DREAD 003When whatever gore does arrive it’s pretty disappointing. I noticed with interest that Cleve Hall was behind the special effects, but even this guy with a career rooted in such Charles Band classics as Eliminators and TerrorVision seems woefully under-employed here. It’s fitting that in one of the camp offices that there’s a prominently displayed poster for the Harrison Smith penned 6 Degrees of Hell, as this smug showmanship of mediocrity fits this tiresome slasher quite fittingly.

3 out of 10


Hatchet 3 (2013) DVD Review


Review by: Dave Wain

Stars: Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder, Zach Galligan, Caroline Williams, Parry Shen

Written by: Adam Green

UK Certification: 18

UK RRP: £12.99

UK DVD Region: 2

Runtime: 78 minutes

Directed by: BJ McDonnell

UK Release Date: 31st March 2014

Distributor: Metrodome

A lot has been said about the demise of the slasher film these last few years, coupled with regular face palm orientated head shaking at the amount of CGI gore that has crept into the horror industry. While this is true to an extent, with all darkness you’ll often find some light and here that light is Adam Green. The 38 year old writer / director wowed horror fans with the creation of Victor Crowley for the first Hatchet film in 2006, and despite relinquishing the director’s chair for this chapter it’s his pen that wrote the script.

Taking over behind the camera duties is BJ McDonnell, himself a veteran of the franchise as the camera operator whilst returning onscreen is genre favourite Danielle Harris, legendary stuntman Kane Hodder (Friday 13th) and Zach Galligan (Gremlins). Following a brief recap of the end of Hatchet II which saw Marybeth (Harris) dispose of Victor in the most goretastic way possible, she finds herself in the local police department holding the prized scalp of Victor Crowley. Sheriff Fowler (Galligan) attempts to get to the bottom of Marybeth’s story but finds it hard to get past how unbelievable it sounds – that is until an on-site report from his colleagues uncover the scale of the carnage.

HATCHET 002As the Sheriff heads to the scene to begin his investigation, a nosey local reporter Amanda Pullman (‘Stretch’ from TCM2 no less) is keen to do a piece on this fast breaking story. After being rebuffed by the Sheriff, she decides the only way to get on board the case is to post bail for Marybeth. Meanwhile, back in the swamp the body (or bits of) of Victor Crowley has been recovered and body-bagged and placed on board the boat that carried the police to the scene of crime. Thankfully though, as Marybeth had dismembered him to such an extreme degree, he surely couldn’t possibly post any further threat now… could he? Damn right he could – he’s back, and only one woman can end this.

For reasons of full disclosure I have to admit I’m a fully-fledged member of the Hatchet fan club, and even if this second sequel was the horror equivalent of Plan 9 from Outer Space I have a nagging suspicion that somehow I’d manage to find something glowing to say about it. However, that is most certainly not the case as Adam Green has delivered a film that takes the rule of diminishing sequels, rips it up and fires a 12 gauge right into its heart. Most heartening is the fact that this sequel feels like a natural progression, as opposed to a cynically created vacuous bit of filler. As always it’s great to see your much loved character return such as Marybeth, and here Danielle Harris proves that she’s an undoubted horror icon. Kane Hodder too embodies the prosthetics of Victor Crowley, and we even get a Jason vs Jason face-off as Hodder does battle with Derek Mears who played the Friday 13th icon in the remake. Also, special credit to Parry Shen as well (playing his third different character in this franchise!) who brings some welcome humour to the movie.

HATCHET 003The Hatchet films are horror movies made by horror people for horror fans. It’s that simple. Victor Crowley is an excellent creation, and the way the series uses practical effects so prominently surely demands a level of respect towards it. The transition from Adam Green to BJ McDonnell as director is seamless no doubt due his role on the previous two films, and the fact that the series creator is still writing the sequels is a badge of quality all in itself. If you say you’re a horror-fiend, and you DON’T have any of the Hatchet films in your collection, then use the release of Hatchet III to remedy that. It’s a blood soaked love letter to the slasher genre.

7.5 out of 10