CAMP BLOOD: FIRST SLAUGHTER
Director: Mark Polonia
Year of release: 2014
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 72 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Not sure, maybe DVD only.
Tagline: "Summer's over...Time to die".
Also known as: Camp Blood 3
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Firstly to clear up some confusion this is not Camp Blood 3 as the text at the bottom of the cover art would suggest as that honor of course goes to Within the Woods. Neither is it Camp Blood 4 as there is another entry in the franchise with that title so it is a bit of an oddity in terms of where it fits in for the series. It's best to just refer to it as First Slaughter I suppose. Anyway to give you the story this one kicks off with a clown masked individual watching a young couple on a houseboat at the Camp Blood area. Though he looks to have sinister intentions in mind our clown faced friend gets a taste of his own medicine as he is struck down himself by another maniac, someone wearing an ugly but not a clown like mask and army fatigues. Our new killer then sets out on a little murder spree around the woodlands. We then meet a group of students at a local college who are studying urban legends. The teacher brings up the legend of the camp blood killer with the class debating whether it all really happened or is just a story. The teacher then charges her small class of six with camping at the old murder site over the weekend and documenting the experience with cameras and cell phones as well as interviewing the locals to try and ascertain if there is any truth to the legend. With the promise of extra credits for taking part the class agree and head out on the camping trip where of course they run across the new army fatigue wearing killer.
Good points: The new look for the killer is a bit of a gamble as it takes away perhaps the most recognisable thing from the franchise in the clown mask to replace it with something new. It was a bold move but one which I think pays off as the new mask looks reasonable. Not sure how to describe it other than to say it is ugly and fairly intimidating and wouldn't be out of place on stage at a Slipknot concert. The army fatigues are decent as well and probably a small step up from the plain black outfit we saw last time out in Within the Woods. They still make reference to the old clown mask as well with the appearance of the clown who gets killed off at the start. Though I like the continuity the clown mask generally brings to the franchise this one stands out as being a bit different and sometimes that can be a good thing.
This entry has a slightly higher bodycount than the earlier films so there is more in the way of violence. If you are the type that doesn't like there to be too much talky stuff between the kills then this could be one for you as for the most part they come thick and fast here without there ever being to much of a wait in between. For such a low budget production the gore effects are decent as well. A number of them utilise a fair bit of CGI though which doesn't look very good, quite bad even but that aside I'd say the kills and special effects are passable.
The found footage aspect to the film which comes into effect at about the half way point is different and unique and is something very seldom seen within the slasher genre. I don't think they necessarily introduced it in the best way but it gives the film an extra facet, another string to its bow which differentiates it from most others. Though the found footage angle isn't completely uncharted territory in the slasher world it is very rare so the fact that it is on display here may pique peoples interest and encourage them to check this one out.
The cast weren't super attractive as they so often are in slashers so I liked that and felt it added to the more gritty and real feeling they were probably going for with the found footage angle. Not that I dislike looking at beautiful women you understand but when the characters are more everyday normal looking I think it makes them more relatable and the film more realistic (not that attractive people don't exist but you know what I mean).
Bad Points: Before the kids set out on the camping trip there is a scene where one of the girls is being stalked and teased by the killer at her house. It goes on too long though and ultimately doesn't go anywhere so felt like a bit of a waste of time. At this point we also get POV footage from the killers perspective and they really over do the heavy breathing with the killer constantly panting like a dog. It sounds like they are having an asthma attack and get very annoying after only a short while.
Big spoiler in this point. I didn't feel as if they introduced the found footage part of the film very well. Essentially we see the kids driving to the campsite and then get a quick montage of them all being killed. We then cut to a news broadcast being shown sometime later which is showcasing their discovered footage which has been recovered and spliced together in an effort to somehow catch the culprit. It is so unrealistic though that a news channel would show footage of people being murdered. Similarly you could also say the video shown to the class near the start was unrealistic for the same reason. Anyway doing it this way took a lot of the tension and interest out of the film as they revealed in the short montage before we see the footage that all the kids die anyway so we already know the final outcome and are now just being shown what built up to it. I think they would have been better off just including the introductory part with the kids at the college as found footage as well and have justified it by saying it was pulled off CCTV. Then they could have done away with the quick kill montage and then just run through all the recorded footage in chronological order which would have retained the tension.
Another minor irritation regarding the found footage stuff is that they keep making the picture quality go all distorted for a second or two every so often which like the heavy breathing I mentioned earlier quickly becomes annoying. They included it to remind us that what we are watching is in the past and just recorded footage but they go overboard and do this picture quality deterioration thing far too much. Also on a couple of occasions it didn't actually look ass if anyone was holding a device to record what we were watching but to be fair they did keep on top of that for the most part with just the odd slip up.
Spoiler for the earlier films in this point. Another annoying thing which begins with this film and carries on throughout the subsequent sequels is that they attempt to rewrite history and erase pretty much everything that happened in the original trilogy completely ignoring the Tricia character and the female killers we had always had before. Instead it now seems as if they are trying to claim that the only camp blood killer there has ever been is the male in the mask that we see getting decapitated at the start.
I guess taking a lead from what I described above they also ignore the sign used in the previous films which if I remember rightly said "Camp Blackwood" with the Blackwood bit crossed out and replaced with Blood. Her though it just says Camp Blood which is either just laziness and incompetence or another example of the filmmakers wanting to distance themselves from the earlier films. Quite why they would want to do that though when those films were superior to this I don't know.
Once the killer is revealed at the end the persons motivation for going on the murder spree is confusing and convoluted. I actually had to rewind it and rewatch the explanation a few times before it sunk in. Spoiler: In light of who the killer is revealed to be it didn't make sense why the photograph was broken in the office earlier. The teacher was the killer inspired by the actions of her murderer father so she would look up to him and have no reason to damage his photograph. Possibly we are to infer it was done by Harvey or Victor seeing that they both had crushes on her and possibly mistook the man in the photo to be her lover but it should have been better explained. One thing I will say though is that I liked how the killer turned out to be a female again as at least that fell in line with what we had seen from the rest of the franchise.
More effort should have been made from the kids before the trouble began to interview the townspeople. This was one of their main reasons for them being there and I think they said they were going to do it the next day but even when confronted by the guy trying to warn the off they didn't stop to try and pump him for information which was unrealistic. Also at the very start of the film we did have townspeople speaking about the legend so I don't know why they put that in so early on. We should have seen the kids interviewing these people and obtaining these quotes themselves which would have made more sense and been the logical way to present it.
Verdict: I really liked the initial Camp Blood trilogy but sadly this can't hold a candle to it. It just doesn't carry the same charm, heart or fun factor that those films managed to capture. There are too many problems bogging it down like the heavy berating, bungled way the found footage aspect is introduced and the CGI taking the shine off some otherwise solid kills. There is some small pleasure to be had here for hardcore genre fans and I've seen a lot worse but as I enjoyed the first three films so much this by comparison felt like a big letdown.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
(I decided to include those killed in the video clip played by the teacher).
1) Clown masked killer: Head chopped off.
2) Michael: Struck in face with machete.
3) Micheal's girlfriend: Machete through the mouth and out the back of her head.
4) Angela: Throat cut (in video clip).
5) Jason: Stabbed in torso with machete (in video clip).
6) Man by cabin: Axe to chest and finished off by machete.
7) Brianna: Impaled through the back of the head with machete.
8) Guy who tried to warn kids: Throat slashed and then stabbed in the back.
9) Sasha: Slashed in the top of the head repeatedly.
10) Marcy: Hacked in the throat and severed head later thrown at the others.
11) Harvey: Machete to the chest.
12) Victor: Machete to the top of the head.
13) Christi: Run over by a car. It wasn't clear who was driving but presumably the killer wasn't dead after being stabbed by Christi earlier and was the one in the drivers seat. As the film ends we see blood spilling and a scream so presumably this was Christi being finished off.