GHOST OF CAMP BLOOD
Director: Mark Polonia
Year of release: 2018
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 73 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: DVD only (as far as I know)
Tagline: "Evil clowns never die".
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Somehow surviving the machete to the head at the end of It Kills the killer clown stumbles off and manages to make it into town where he is later shot dead by the police. Just prior to being gunned down the clown finds and puts on another mask (the previous one was taken by the final girl in It Kills) which after his death is taken to the local police station. Said mask is soon stolen and passed onto a guy named Randy who hosts a paranormal investigation TV show which is struggling in the ratings and about to be taken off the air. Randy pitches to his boss the idea of giving the show one last chance with a special episode focusing on the recently deceased Camp Blood killer who is now a hot topic in the news. Randy proposes that using the recovered mask he makes an attempt to try and contact the killer’s spirit live on the air. The project goes ahead with Randy being aided by three younger people who have done some minor league freelance paranormal investigating in the past As you can imagine things go wrong with the spirit using the mask as a means to manifest itself. Things quickly spiral out of Randy’s control with the evil spirit soon running rampant around the area leading to a brutal hunt of those inside the TV production company building.
Good points: Minor spoilers: This has an all-together different feel to it than the other films in the series taking place mostly indoors as it does within what I assume is supposed to be TV studios building (so not a school as one of the reviews/comments about this film that I’ve read states). Due to this radical departure it feels fresh and delivers something different which in a long running franchise like this now in its ninth instalment is a good thing. Just reading the story description above you can probably tell that they really made an effort to provide something new this time around. It is similar to 666 in a few details but largely its own animal Certainly a lot more thought has gone into the story here than in some of the other instalments. The supernatural elements that were touched on to a lesser degree in 666 return here to help freshen things up and though they don’t really work on the whole they put a new spin on things. I think they were on the right track with the spirit possessing people as it did for a short while with Randy. These bits were more straightforward and less hokey than the rather lame looking ghostly special FX seen at other times and it played up nicely to similar events seen in other films like The Final Friday. To go along with all the new stuff they made use of several series hallmarks as well to try and anchor this to the older films like the Camp Blood sign making an appearance, the tradition of the clown mask being tweaked and the inclusion of Jeff Kirkendall in a cameo who is someone who has appeared in two of the previous films.
The character of Randy Bucks the struggling TV show host was a strong edition. The story mainly centres around this figure which was a good move as he is easily the most enjoyable to watch and the best actor among the cast. I also felt that Mark Polonia himself (the director) did quite well in his small role as the manager of the TV station. The trio of younger paranormal investigators weren’t so good with AJ in particular not appealing to me as I couldn’t always catch everything he said. With Randy though they got it right and he was entertaining to watch throughout. This was lacking a proper final girl or boy as such but I’d say Randy was the closest thing as an older than usual central male character. The film isn’t very good so I can’t say Randy held it all together but he was definitely the strand of gold within the hay pile.
Bad Points: The whole Stanley Cunningham palaver that I touched on in a previous Camp Blood review sadly rears its ugly head once again here this time to much more prominent effect. He is mentioned constantly as the guy shot at the beginning so he must have been the killer last time out though I would have thought it would have been revealed as someone the survivor from It Kills knew seeing how she started screaming after pulling the mask off and was subsequently driven mad. I think they were hinting at this Stan as being the killer in 666 as well here as they mentioned 27 victims and by my count there are about 26 from 666 and It Kills combined. That doesn’t make much sense though as he was supposed to be already dead in 666 and they were trying to summon his spirit. It’s all very head scratching as to who this Stan character is supposed to be as he is never mentioned or seen prior to 666 as far as I can remember. Most likely he is just someone Mark Polonia and David Sterling etc have made up to try and rewrite the series history to suit their own purposes. It all comes across as a confusing mess though and they would have been much better off just name dropping one of the more memorable characters from the original Brad Sykes trilogy. I’ve mentioned this previously but some-time after writing the notes for this review I came across a YouTube video from a big Camp Blood fan who made an attempt to make sense of the whole franchise storyline thus far Stan Cunningham included. Its been a while since I watched that now so I can’t recall any specifics but it does explain things better than the films themselves do so seek that out if your as confused as I am. The fact remains though that we shouldn’t have to resort to those measures to make sense of storylines. Whichever way you slice it the inclusion of all this Stan Cunningham nonsense was a bad move.
Spoiler: There is a weird scene near the start that takes place in a garage decorated with plastic sheeting where the ghost of the killer is torturing a young woman, eventually killing her. There is no mention however of who this woman is or how she came to be a captive. (It doesn’t appear to be the surviving final girl from It Kills). Also spliced in with this footage are clips of another woman soaping herself in the shower which seems completely unrelated to the plight of the original woman and again isn’t explained or elaborated on.
The mask has been tweaked again as I mentioned before but this time takes a step backward for me as I just didn’t feel that it looked as good. The main reason for this is that much like the mask from Camp Blood 4 it doesn’t fully cover the wearers head. It may even be the exact same mask used in number 4. The killers disembodied voice is also lame and embarrassing, the voice of a petulant little kid and again it evoked memories for me of the terrible killer from number 4. Speaking of the ghost voice it’s involved in another embarrassing segment later on where the voice is interviewing Randy or vice versa. This whole segment is nonsensical and just all around bad as it is hard to even hear what the ghost voice is saying.
Seeing that this film follows on directly from It Kills it’s a big oversight that they don’t reveal even in passing what happened to the surviving final girl from that film (Ginny?).
The supernatural elements can sometimes be confusing and a little hard to keep track of especially towards the end. From the weird interview scene that I already mentioned to other bits where the killer seems to appear to Randy as if he is possessing the bodies of the younger paranormal investigators as well as possessing Randy himself. Sounds fine on paper but the way they present it is muddled and while it’s unfolding for us to see on screen it’s harder than it should be to make sense of. The supernatural piece of equipment frequently seen, some sort of ghost tracking device also seemed really lame. I don’t watch any paranormal investigative shows however so perhaps this device is a real thing (I doubt it). They missed an opportunity in not doing a proper séance scene as well which would have seemed tailor made for this film. Seances are frequently used plot devices in slashers but something we’ve yet to see fully utilised in this franchise. It could have made for an intense creepy moment with candles, a dark room, characters linking hands in a circle with an Ouija board set before them. It would have been easy and cheap enough to do but instead we get some half assed thing done in broad daylight that I can’t even call a séance. It was a complete missed opportunity and it felt like they just couldn’t be bothered.
Verdict: This is a massive step back for the franchise after the good work done by 666 and to a lesser extent It Kills. Bad in nearly every department this is more akin to the ghastly parts 4 and 5 which should be enough it itself to put you off. It never quite reaches those low levels as at least they make an attempt to give us more of a story here plus we have a likeable lead and a fresh location. I can appreciate that they made an attempt to do something different but it unfortunately doesn’t work. It mostly all falls flat with too many things left unexplained or just coming across as lame or confusing.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1)Killer (Stan Cunningham I guess): Shot by police.
2)Random blonde girl in garage: Stabbed in the stomach and intestines pulled out.
3)Man who stole mask: Hand cut off and then hacked up further as the camera cuts away.
4)TV station manager: Killed with machete blow.
5)Dark haired female private investigator: Killed with machete, possibly a blow to the chest.
6)AJ: Not totally sure but I think he had his throat cut.
7)Blonde female private investigator: Stabbed repeatedly by two ghost like forms. I think these were supposed to be her two friends back from the dead, their spirits possessed somehow but it was hard to follow.