The clean, crisp air; the smell of the campfire; the call of nature. (Wait! What?) Yes, those are all wonderful things we associate with summer camp. A time for young people to venture out on their own and have experiences they’ll remember for the rest of their lives… even if that’s only about another 25 minutes.
The upcoming film Camp Dread, starring Eric Roberts, rekindles all those great memories of summer camp horror movies past, and oh, how we love them.
After becoming the setting of some truly memorable films in the 80’s, summer camp has forever been tagged as the perfect hunting ground for the slasher. It’s secluded, it’s quiet, and it’s filled with poorly supervised camp residents and camp counselors. Is there a more perfect recipe for a bloody good time than that? I think not!
So where do we start? Of course with the counselors. Oh those irresponsible, oversexed, beer-drinking, pot-smoking ne’er-do-wells. No matter which camp we find them in, they’re always up to no good. And the funny thing is, they may have different names and different faces, but it always seems like similar counselors show up at every summer camp. You’ve got the goof, the athlete, the pothead, the wallflower, the party girl… you know them all. We’ve all seen them and love every one of the mischievous scoundrels.
But even though the counselors might not always have the best interests of the campers as their number one priority, they normally do have at least a shred of responsibility, or at the very least they don’t wish any harm on the kiddos. They certainly don’t deserve the bloody fate that is obligatorily waiting for them at the end of the movie. And of course we need to look no further than Camp Crystal Lake to see the best example of camp counselors behaving badly getting dealt with in extreme fashion.
Initially having to contend with the vengeful Mrs. Voorhees before her boy Jason took over, the counselors at Camp Crystal Lake had to deal with adversity like no others. With an astronomical body count, the Friday the 13th series set the bar for summer camp horror, and it was set high. From impaling Kevin Bacon with an arrow through the throat right up to Jason going psycho in the future (although he had long since left the comforts of Crystal Lake in Jason X), Friday the 13th treated camp counselors like a meat grinder treats a rump roast. No mercy.
And it’s not to say that everyone is not in danger, but god forbid if you sneak behind the cabin for a little of the ol’ in-out (that’s A Clockwork Orange Nadsat slang for screwing, humping each other, making the beast with two backs, giving her a swift case of the bifters, doing it, etc.) or to grab a cold one or light up some wacky tobaccy, Camp Crystal Lake is going to be really unforgiving to those individuals. Yikes!
But as hellacious as Camp Crystal Lake is, there are certainly other camps out there that harbored bad, bad things. A little place called Camp Arawak comes immediately to mind as well. Although it doesn’t have the flashy memorable name like Friday the 13th’s Camp Crystal Lake, Camp Arawak had a really…unique…camper named Angela (played by Felissa Rose, who coincidentally appears in Camp Dread). And Angela was not what she appeared to be. Not at all.
Of course we are talking about Sleepaway Camp. Apparently kids back in the 80’s were much more affected by witnessing homosexual relationships because Angela seeing one, and the fact that she was raised by her bat-shit crazy aunt, really fucked this kid up. See, Angela was originally Peter, but her aunt decided to raise him as a girl. So needless to say, Peter still had a peter even though he was running around looking like an all-American girl and being called Angela.
Needless to say, this kind of twisted upbringing tends to affect a child’s mind, and if you throw in some mean-spirited childhood taunting and mud-slinging (literal and metaphorical), the next thing you know you have a guy getting stung to death by bees, a girl getting a hair-straightening iron shoved up her cooter, a hunting knife shower attack, and an unfortunate incident on the archery range. Camp Crystal Lake might be bad, but at Camp Arawak you’ve got a guy named Angela running around mangling people with his/her johnson hanging out. It might not be as bloody, but it’s certainly stranger!
Sometimes it’s not the counselors who are the bad guys; sometimes, like at Arawak, it’s the kids. But they don’t even have to have murderous intent. Oftentimes the little ankle-biters are just off playing some pranks and things get carried away in a big, big hurry. We’ve got a prime example of that right here. Let’s say hello to a caretaker named Cropsey.
Camp Blackfoot was home to a kindly old caretaker that went by the name Cropsey. Well, we can’t confirm how kindly he was, but he was there, and one night some of the meddling campers decided to scare the holy fuck out of Cropsey by setting up a skull with some candles in his caretaker shack and bang on the windows to frighten him. And hilarity ensued! Their plan worked so well that Cropsey freaked out and knocked the candles onto the bed, setting his sheets and clothes on fire. From here, in true Three Stoogian fashion, the burning Cropsey knocks over a gas tank, and things really get blazing. Luckily he was able to get to the river to put himself out, but he was really never the same after that.
Cropsey would return (this time to Camp Stonewater) to do all kinds of nasty things to campers to try to exact his revenge for those campers that gave him a face even Proactiv+ couldn’t save. “Seinfeld’s” own Jason Alexander wasn’t even safe from the horribly disfigured caretaker. And why is it that being hacked up by a horribly disfigured individual is so much worse than being hacked up by a relatively good looking fella? I guess it’s all in how you look at it.
Camp Crystal Lake, Camp Arawak, and Camps Blackfoot and Stonewater. They are just a few of the summer fun sites that have been cursed by the actions of a remorseless killer. And don’t think that’s the end of the bloodshed. Places like Camp Hurrah in Cheerleader Camp in 1988 and even recent 2012 addition the Happy Day Bible Camp in the aptly named Bloody, Bloody Bible Camp prove that camps are still a very effective setting for a creative slasher to do his thing.
Watch the summer camp madness continue in Camp Dread!
Former 80s film director, writer, producer Julian Barrett (Eric Roberts) wants to reboot his successful horror film Summer Camp franchise. However, the only way to get the funding is do a reality show based on the plot lines of his slasher film trilogy. A group of troubled youths are picked to compete on the show for the ultimate prize of cash and fame. The goal is to avoid “elimination” until people start dying. For real.
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