Campfire Stories (2001)

DECEMBER 28, 2010


I never finished Sopranos (not having HBO, I would rent on DVD, and got sidetracked after S3 or 4); I liked it, but didn’t love it as much as every TV critic in the world. But one thing I fully enjoyed was watching Jamie-Lynn Sigler blossom from cute to positively stunning over the few seasons I watched. However, after Dark Ride and now Campfire Stories, I will be sure to never ever watch a horror film starring Ms. Sigler ever again. Yes, the rule is three strikes and you're out, but these two movies are so bad they make for like five outs. I don’t care if it’s a Halloween sequel with cameos by Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck as their Armageddon characters*, if she’s in it I will avoid like the plague.

Not that either film’s colossal failure is her fault; indeed, she barely appears in this one, despite her top billing. She’s one of the three teens that “host” David Johansen (Buster Poindexter!) is telling his stories to, which means her role consists almost entirely of reaction shots (or NON-reaction shots – most of the time she’s just staring blankly, and I can’t blame her). She gets a bit more to do in the final scenes, due to an inane but still obvious twist involving her character, but still, her combined screen time is probably less than five minutes.

No, the problem with the movie, as is far too often the case, is that every single character in its three stories is a hateful piece of shit, rendering most of the film borderline intolerable. Our first tale concerns four douchebag jocks (one of them played by Perez Hilton, of all fucking people) who pick on and beat up a mentally challenged janitor for no real reason, then run around in the woods with hockey sticks and golf clubs as he kills them one by one. That’s about it – there’s no twist or anything, nor anyone to root for (well, besides the killer). It doesn’t even offer any good kills – everything is off-screen, which renders some of it just plain incoherent, especially during the pointless prologue (what the fuck kind of anthology segment has its OWN prologue?) where the guy escapes from a mental institution and we just see these random, choppy bits of violence happening to people we haven’t really been introduced to.

And yet it’s still better than the second segment, which ALSO features a group of annoying assholes picking on some older guy, in this case a Native American with a magic bag that glows yellow and produces 50 dollar bills. Well, anyway, they kill him, and then smoke his “drugs”, which causes them to see the worst CGI snakes and beetles (I think?) ever committed to film, before they all freak out and become old. The twist at the end (which was hinted at in the beginning of the tale) isn’t too bad, but the hateful characters, similarity to the scenario of the first story, and truly atrocious CGI take away whatever goodwill it would have earned from the twist, and then some. I mean, Christ, look at this horseshit:

They couldn’t just film these two with an actual sky behind them?

The third tale is probably the best, if only because I didn’t know where it was going from the first few minutes. I didn’t LIKE where it went, but at least it had the “suspense” going for it. Overlong and again keeping everything off-screen (including any and all outcomes of an endless game of truth or dare – this movie was shot in New Jersey – you couldn’t find two ‘actresses’ willing to kiss on camera?), at least the characters are slightly more tolerable than the ones in the other stories, and since the killer used a video camera, the filmmakers’ decision to use what had to be the shittiest digital available at the time (2000) at least paid off, as the in-camera shots looked appropriate, unlike say Cloverfield’s way too professional looking “found footage”.

The music is also uniformly atrocious – when they’re not using obvious library cues (particularly in the first story), they just load it up with horrendous (presumably) local bands, including one that offers a horrid Alice Cooper ripoff called “Welcome To My Hell”. Oh, and The Misfits show up out of nowhere. It’s the best production value the movie has to offer, in fact – everything about it looks/feels cheap, including the DVD itself, which has chapter breaks in the middle of scenes, which just seems even more ridiculous on an anthology.

You know, this seriously makes Dark Ride look good. At least the killer looked cool in that one and the opening scene was decent. This doesn’t offer a goddamn thing.

What say you?

*OK, obviously I’d watch THAT, but otherwise my threat stands.


  1. Good call on this one! This was absolutely one of the worst pieces of crap I've ever seen. I have no idea how I forced myself to watch the entire thing (probably because I have OCD and can never NOT finish a movie), but the entire time I was agape at how horrendously awful this was.

  2. I watched this movie a few years ago with my sister and hated it. However, to this day I can look at her and tell her to "stop being such a sanitary napkin" (or something to that effect) and still get a good laugh. I guess it was good for something...


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