Campfire Stories

Who’s the scariest person you could encounter in the woods at night? If you guessed Buster Poindexter, then here’s the movie for you!

Two guys get a flat tire and encounter a girl who also has car trouble. The decide to wander into the woods to look for campers with a cell phone. Apparently, they’d never seen The Blair Witch Project. In any case, they run into Buster Poindexter, er, Ranger Bill. Ranger Bill sits them down in front of a campfire and starts in with the ‘scary’ stories.

The first tale is the old cliche about an escaped mental patient. 20 years later, he’s a high school janitor – of course – what other jobs are ever available to escaped mental patients? Remember Student Bodies? Some high school jocks harass him and then decide to stalk him into the woods to kill him. Of course, they find out the hard way what an escaped mental patient does to high school jocks…

The second tale is about a trio of criminals that track an old Indian into the woods and murder him for his peace pipe. Apparently, they never saw Creepshow 2 – don’t fuck with Indians! They start smoking the peace pipe…and now we know where the production budget for the film went. They have the worst CGI hallucinations possible…snakes and fairies, whatever. Then they get old…it seems that the Indian had really lured them out to the woods to steal their youth.

The last tale is the longest and most confounding. Melissa invites her best friend and their boyfriends to her grandmother’s deserted house in the woods. Not only is Melissa sex-phobic, but she is convinced that someone is watching her. Blah, blah, blah, contrived plot, blindfolds, the lights go out and people start dying. Turns out that Melissa herself is the murderer because “she like to watch, baby.” Shades of Happy Birthday to Me.

After all the tales are told, Buster announces that the tow truck has arrived and they may go. The tow truck drops the kids off at a deserted bar. The go inside and The Misfits are playing. It’s really them! For some reason, the kids are more freaked out by The Misfits than by all the scary stories they’ve just heard. They turn around and bartender is Buster! The mosh pit is comprised of all the villains from the stories they’ve just heard! They try to leave…of course the girl is the only one who is able to escape – just in time to flag down another car. Ooooohhh, spooky.

No nudity. Negligible blood. Bad acting. Too many cliches. Don’t bother.

Tales from the Crypt

Well, I was going through the cable guide and I saw that an old episode of HBO’s Tales from the Crypt was on. It was the one with Psycho Santa Claus. I was going to watch that, until I scrolled a little further down and saw that the actual movie was on. I thought to myself, well cool, this will be just as good, right? Wrong.

This is another one of those portmanteau horror flicks so popular in the seventies – an anthology of “scary” stories that are collectively supposed to freak you out more than just a single storyline. Trilogy of Terror, this ain’t. Five people are touring an underground burial crypt and get locked in a room with the “Crypt Keeper.” This is not THE Crypt Keeper. This is just some dude in robes. Totally unsatisfying. The best part about Tales from the Crypt is the Crypt Keeper! Anyway, the fake Crypt Keeper entreats each member of the party to tell their tales…

In the first tale, Joan Collins kills her husband, then is stalked by a psychotic Santa Claus. Hmmm…just the same story I passed on in the single HBO episode. Joan Collins trying to do a British accent is pretty humorous, but that’s about it.

The second tale was by far the worst – an adulterous man dies in a car wreck, only to come back two years later. He goes around scaring hobos and his ex wife and is really confused about why, until he finally sees himself in the mirror. He’s a zombie! Oooh, scary!

Peter Cushing stars in the third tale as a kindly old rubbish collector who entertains the neighborhood children and keeps stray dogs. The two guys across the street (they’ve gotta be lovers!) decide his place is an eyesore and start trying to drive him away. First they have his dogs taken away by the city. Then they get him fired. After that, they convince the neighborhood mothers not to let their children play with him. The final insult is when they have the entire town send him really ugly Valentine’s Day cards. The all have really bad poems in them, like “This city would be so much better if you were not around. Why don’t you go jump in the river and drown.” Seriously, they are that lame. Nonetheless, the old guy hangs himself. Really. Low self esteem much? The old dude comes back a year later and has his revenge on one of the guys who harassed him. Pulls his heart right out of his chest…

The fourth tale is a variation on The Monkey’s Paw. The funny part is that these people KNOW the story of The Monkey’s Paw – they actively talk about it and try not the repeat the mistake. The moral of the story is…don’t ever wish a dead person back to life, especially if they have already been embalmed. And definitely don’t wish them back to life “forever and ever.” There’s a nice shot of pig’s intestines in this one. Maybe they would have looked a bit more realistic if they were fresh?

The final tale was by far the best. An ex-military sergeant gets a new job running a home for the blind. He turns off the heat and feeds them slop. The blind guys have their revenge by capturing the sergeant and his dog. The lock them in basement closets for a few days while they build a series of alleys connecting the two closets. In the middle is a narrow corridor lined with razor blades. As soon as the sergeant passes through the razor corridor towards the exit, the blind dudes release his starving dog and turn out the lights…I assume that hilarity ensues after this point.

Cheesy seventies schlock, but not quite bad enough to send me right to sleep – and believe me, I was trying.