If the ISCFC ever has a Hall Of Fame, two of its inaugural members will be Tim Thomerson, star of “Dollman”, the “Trancers” movies and many others; and Reggie Bannister, star of the “Phantasm” series and, a couple of years ago, this film. Reggie’s skullet and faint air of self-mockery at the cheap genre cinema he finds himself in is always entertaining, but can he lift this slasher film parody out of the sludge?
I know nothing about Bible camps (or “camps” generally, sorry to any American readers) but from this film, I gather that everyone that goes to them is horny and way older than I’d have expected summer-campers to be. In 1977, we meet a group of campers, a fairly horrible group if truth be told. The discussion about the size of God’s penis was one of those moments designed early on to tell you what sort of film you’re going to get, and I laughed. Ugly nerdy looking men drug some beautiful women with Spanish Fly; one of them is killed while he’s mid-penetration with what turns out to be the girl’s headless corpse, and the other is slaughtered while on the toilet. This entire thing, apart from the killings I suppose, has a real improv feel to it which I rather like, and I was sort of bummed out when the killer finished their work quite quickly and we jump forward to 1984.
The camp’s been closed since the previous murders, but Father Richard (Bannister) is taking a new group of kids up to the camp for some good old Bible-stuff. Actually, it really doesn’t matter why they’re going up there and the film realises this and just doesn’t bother mentioning it, apart from a weirdly inserted game of “Bible Bowl Trivia” which doubles as a theological discussion.
We discover Sister Mary Chopper is the name of the killer, and after a fairly long period in the film between the initial 1977 killings and the first one in the “present day” of 1984, she’s back doing her work. As in all good slasher films, that’s really all the plot you need, but this film is a knowing homage / parody of those old films, so you get tons of oddity and atmosphere (and quite a few solid laughs). The female camp counsellor appears to be sexually fixated on the goth girl who’s there, a plot strand which goes absolutely nowhere (literally and metaphorically), and indeed there’s a couple of hints that this might be a cure-your-gayness sort of group, but again nothing really comes out of any of it. The reveal of the masked killer really is gloriously pointless though. Porn superstar Ron Jeremy shows up as Jesus, which is a great cameo…throughout the film, a few of the actors wear incredibly obvious wigs, fake noses and so on. I can’t quite fathom why – the Ron Jeremy connection had me thinking they were porn stars who were moonlighting in “real” cinema, but it’s another dropped thread that never had a resolution.
I think the poor kid whose head basically explodes from having a breezeblock dropped on it could feel quite aggrieved – skulls aren’t that fragile, are they? – and one of the girls has a dream about an event she couldn’t possibly have witnessed. But these are small potatoes, and I am a nitpicking nerd. Also, I suppose they can get away with justifying this as it’s a tribute to the old slasher movies, but there’s tons of female nudity in this film and not a bit of male. Come on, modern films! This stupid “titillation” should be a thing of the past – either exploit everyone or no-one!
I rather liked this film. It’s got a great sense of humour and a few little touches that show the people who worked on this cared about it. I look forward to seeing what these filmmakers do next.
Rating: thumbs up