Review: CAMPFIRE TALES

Posted by Peter Hall - April 20th 2008 @ 9:24 pm

Directed by Matt Cooper, Martin Kunert, David Semel, 1997
Written by Martin Kunert, Eric Manes, Matt Cooper

How does one review a piece of horror best described as cute? I’ve got no problems with CAMPFIRE TALES, which may as well be the Showtime version of “ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?”. I’m sure they had a hoot making it and I had a tolerable time watching it, so why should I beat up on it for being adorable? CAMPFIRE TALES is the straight-to-video equivalent of a kid playing dress up in his father’s pants. Cotton candy horror. Fluffy, fleeting and sweet all at once with nothing of value inside or out.

Either the title or the trio of directors listed above should give it away, but if not (and if not, feel free to have your inadequate mind blown), CAMPFIRE TALES is an omnibus anthology centered around the stories four teens tell around a, well, don’t make me type it, while waiting for help to reach their car accident crash site. It opens with what is without hesitation the most repeated urban legend of all time. Escaped mental patient with a hook for a hand. I’d like to say this segment offers any thing new to the story, but it does not.  However, it is over within minutes and the guy/gal parked at makeout lane are James Marsden and Amy Smart. Yes, I had the very same reaction.

CAMPFIRE TALES actually boasts quite a few fresh Hollywood faces. Aside from Marsden and Smart, you’ve got Christine Taylor and Christopher Masterson as two of the teens, Glenn Quinn (recognizable to any fan of “ANGEL”) as a ghost stricken traveler, and muthafrakin Ron Livingston as a husband from the Bronx who is fighting werewolves (or something) on his honeymoon whenever not involved in the slowest thrusting sex scene ever filmed.

The segments defining the body of CAMPFIRE TALES are as follows: “The Hook” about, well, don’t make me type it again. “The Campfire” about, well, shit, this movie is predictable already. “The Honeymoon” about Livingston and Jennifer MacDonald making a detour on their romantic post-nuptials ride across the US of A in a trailer. After the aforementioned slowest thrusting ever, they encounter Hawthorne James, who warns them in a surprisingly memorable bit of forebodance about his missing wife and things that come out at night.

Next up is “People Can Lick Too”, which is the most glossed over segment of the bunch, but has a creepiness to its core that is begging to be used to full potential elsewhere. It is about a girl chatting up someone online who is, of course, a creepy old man. I feel I’m not spoiling anything here because I doubt anyone is going to rush to see CAMPFIRE TALES (nor do I recommend they do), but it ends with the little girl laying in bed, her arm dangling over the side, the creepy old guy hiding under the bed and licking her fingers like a dog. The execution is weak, but I love the idea behind it.

Last up is “The Locket”, which you’ve likely come across in one form or another over the years. Guy’s motorcycle breaks down in front of a farm house. Inside is a pretty corn fed country gal and a ghost left to reenact the beheading of a girl who lived there years ago. Guy saves Gal only to later remove the locket wrapped snug around her neck…

The whole production is kept afloat by willing performers, even if the directors have no real clue how to maintain a scare. The flick already had an R rating from Ron Livingston’s glacial boning, so I’m a tad confused why they didn’t just bother to go all out in the horror department. There is very little gore in the picture, which gives it an even more staged feeling.  I’m not sure if it gathered any fan base on VHS and late night cable back in the ’90s, I’m not even sure it deserves any, but all things being what they are, it is a charming guppy of a film. FearNET has it OnDemand for the month of April, and while I am in no way recommending anyone make a special effort to see it, if you’re an insomniac with absolutely nothing else on offer, CAMPFIRE TALES will sufficiently numb 88 minutes of your time.

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rss 2 comments
  1. R.J. Sayer
    April 21st, 2008 | 12:41 am | #1

    so, you write a review for [REC].

    and you rave and rave about it. even send me an email about how awesome it is.

    then, you sit quiet for five days.

    during which time AVP-R, Inside, and The Backwoods are released on DVD and Zombie Strippers finds its way to theatres.

    and still… silence.

    and when you do decide to post another review, you follow [REC] with…

    Fucking Campire Fucking Tales.

    Awesome.

    no, i’m not being sarcastic there.

    Truly Awesome.

    horrorsnotdead.com = my favorite horror website ever.

    Fucking Campire Fucking Tales.

    Fuck. Yes.

  2. April 28th, 2008 | 7:35 pm | #2

    Never seen CAMPFIRE TALES, maybe i try and find it sometime.

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