Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Zombie Campout (2002)

Directed by:
Joshua D. Smith

More ambitious low-budget filmmakers try to overcome their limitations, while the rest simply embrace them. This is definitely a case of the latter, where the director and cast pretty much know they're making a piece of silly crud and decide to have a little fun with it. It almost reminded me a bit of DON'T GO IN THE WOODS, a film whose "plot" basically consisted of a bunch of random people wandering into the woods just long enough to get killed by some maniac. Of course this one has zombies instead of a maniac, and an even lower budget if you can imagine that, but it's surprisingly similar in many ways; starting with four poorly-defined people going camping, then introducing a bunch of insignificant characters who exist just to die. Bunny (Misty Orman), her boyfriend Steve (John M. Davis), her best friend Tammy (Tiffany Black) and Steve's friend Trevor (Jeremy Schwab), who is being set up on a blind date with Tammy, decide to spend their weekend camping out near a lake. There they set up camp, sit around talking, make out (while some terrible song goes "Yeah... Oh yeah... So Nice..." in a deep Isaac Hayes like voice) and run into four bikini-clad girls who invite them to a party the next day. After about a half-hour of pointless filler that will bore most viewers into a coma, a meteor shower erupts and fragments hit a nearby graveyard, bringing the dead to life. The badly made-up zombies then go on a rampage around the campground, killing off and eating whoever crosses their path.

Make no mistake, this movie is completely and utterly awful. I cannot think of any redeeming qualities it has from a technical standpoint; direction, acting, script, zombie makeups, editing, sound and cinematography are all the pits. There are also several instances of atrocious CGI that make the effects in SyFy Channel flicks look Oscar worthy by comparison. However, this movie did make me laugh a lot. I'll admit it. I kind of enjoyed watching it. Whether it be the horribly delivered lines of dialogue or the fact that every single female cast member who wandered into frame was dressed in a bikini top and cut off jean shorts, this one had plenty to amuse bad movie fans. Strangely, there's no nudity aside from a two second shot of the top of an ass when a zombie girl's towel falls off. In fact, this movie makes a running gag out of the fact the director obviously couldn't afford to pay any of the ladies to take their tops off. The two female leads change into their bikins under the top they already have on. Another who is changing into a bikini is hidden behind a tree branch that keeps moving up and down to make sure nothing is seen. That had to be intentional, right? I hope that was intentional...

My absolute favorite scene in the whole movie, which I had to rewind and watch like five times because it was so hilarious, involved a pair of lesbian characters who get killed. One has her throat ripped out and sprays an exaggerated amount of blood on the other big-breasted girl who's wearing a flimsy white top. Then that girl tries to run away, but gets ambushed by more zombies, who grab her and rip both of her arms off. Well, they rip the arms off an obvious mannequin torso. Then the armless girl keeps on a running, trips over a tree limb and then falls down and smacks her head off a rock. That's the highlight (or is that lowlight?) of this particular flick.

After a painfully slow first half, this became a bit livelier toward the end, with more cheap gore effects, more cheap action and more cheap scenes of screaming girls in bikinis being pulled to the ground by three or four zombies. It's all stupid and amateurish as can be, but I had a bit of fun watching it and reveling in its stupidity. One thing that I absolutely hated were snippets of dialogue making references to it just being a stupid zombie film, as well as characters looking directly into the camera and mugging. Is that EVER funny? These movies, bad or not, always play better without being so obvious.


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