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In a wasteland filled with lame remakes, horrible CGI messes, and Direct-to-DVD films that fail to impress, here is a perfectly acceptable low budget horror/comedy introducing two buddies that just might become the new talk of the horror community. Caesar and Otto's Summer Camp Massacre is bloody, delightful, and bloody delightful in its efforts to create a fun ride through the formula of slashers while at the same time mocking them.
Yes, this is another horror/comedy film. And no, it's not as good as Scream as one would expect. It's nothing incredibly unique or new, but it stands better and stronger than other low budget horror films I've seen such as Albino Farm and Killer Bees. This reminds me greatly of Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, another horror/comedy flick I saw, for a number of reasons. Both feature two buddies; one "smart," the other slow and not a big ladies man, in a desolate, woodsy area away from all civilization and are both involved in one deadly predicament. At the same time, both films have fun pointing out the clichés and predictability in other horror films.
This one is fairly basic. Caesar and Otto (Campfield and Chomicki) are two half-brothers. Caesar is flamboyant and openly egotistic and Otto is goofy but charming. One day, when taxiing a pregnant woman to the hospital, Caesar unwillingly instigates a mentally handicapped person who just so happens to be the son of a police officer. To avoid trouble, both of the brothers scram out to the woods where they apply to be camp counselors till the whole thing blows over.
Need I say anymore? Once a mysterious woman named Carrie, played by the horror icon Felissa Rose, shows up at camp counselors begin to disappear and be found hacked to bits in the woods. Just by saying that, it's clear that this is paying homage to Friday the 13th by giving us a familiar setting and plot. But that's okay. All the counselors at least have some distinction and aren't all the same person. So at least we can say the film cares about the characters.
Horror fans will have a good time recognizing the faces of not only Felissa Rose, but Brinke Stevens, another famous horror actress. Not to mention cameos from CKY band-member Deron Miller and Martin Sheen's own brother Joe Estevez.
There are so many shots of the woodsy scenery in the film that it actually took me back to when my friend and I made our short film together, shooting some scenes in the middle of the woods. I love the setting of the woods, and feel it's utilized best in low budget pictures. It gives it a more authentic and realistic appearance rather than showing it in a multi-million dollar film. Usually if it is included in a film with a high budget, it doesn't serve much of a purpose. It's more about the events taking place than the unsettling scenery. Unless you travel back to the seventies and the eighties, the woods setting is just used as a backdrop. Caesar and Otto's Summer Camp Massacre reminds us that it has more use than that of a postcard.
So it's clear that Caesar and Otto's Summer Camp Massacre is a mixture of genre satire and homage as well as being a study on two eclectic brothers. Though the film is funny and cute, it gets a little heavy-handed with the homosexual jokes. Frequently, we get the easy punches, but it manages to re-cooperate more around the third act.
Going back to my reference to Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, let's not forget the best thing of all about both films; good old practical effects. Not a sign of CGI. All the gizzards and intestines are in bright red colors, real fake blood, and none of the digital breed. There's nothing worse than watching a good horror film than realizing that the effects are in appalling CG. It's nice to see true, Troma-style filmmaking still exists. You just have to look harder for it.
At the end of the film, it firmly tells you another is on the way. We're told that Caesar and Otto's Deadly XMas is coming soon. From what I've read, it will feature Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman and most of the cast from this film as well which is all perfectly fine with me. Caesar and Otto's Summer Camp Massacre only scratches the surface of what these characters can do in a full-length film. Perhaps a "deadly Xmas" is necessary.
Starring: Dave Campfield, Paul Chomicki, Felissa Rose, Deron Miller, Joe Estevez, and Brinke Stevens. Directed by: Dave Campfield.
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