Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Cinema File #108: "Bloody Bloody Bible Camp" Review

Oh come on, like I wasn't going to watch a movie called Bloody Bloody Bible Camp as soon as I heard it existed.

As surprising as it might sound given the subject matter I sometimes cover on this blog, I'm not a big fan of slasher movies. I love horror movies, but I came to my love of the genre by way of science fiction and fantasy, and always gravitate more to supernatural creatures, Nightmare on Elm Street over Friday the 13th. That being said, I have a certain appreciation for the classics from which we get so many now well worn cliches. I love the first two Halloweens (and technically the third one too even though its not a slasher movie), though I've always been partial to the second Texas Chainsaw, which if you've never seen it is basically a broad comedic parody of the first one. I can easily enjoy a slasher flick if its done right, enough that I can also easily key in to a parody of one if its done right. Bloody Bloody Bible Camp does a lot wrong, so much so that I'm not sure if I can outright recommend it, and yet I have to admit that just in terms of my own personal tastes, I enjoyed it probably a little more than I should have.

The story, which you could probably guess from the title, follows a group of Catholic campers who find themselves stalked by a deranged killer, specifically a transvestite nun in a devil mask wielding among other weapons a knife made out of a cross. Most of my fond memories after the fact stem from the first twenty minutes or so, and to be honest, it pretty much goes down hill from there. It begins with a flashback to the 70's for an extended opening credits sequence that is all at once inspired and ridiculous, jumping back and forth between genuinely hilarious silliness and over the top crudeness faster than I could register which parts I liked and which parts I should roll my eyes at. The various credits appear at each freeze frame murder/goofy victim expression, and by the time the title card comes forth from a naked fleeing victim's vagina just before her death by cross shiv, you know exactly what movie you're in for (if the guy getting choked to death by his cross necklace, or the other guy murdered while pooping didn't already clue you in).

Most of what comes next, following another group of kids several years later in the 80's is somewhat less insane, but still has a few bright spots. I found myself laughing at every fifth or sixth joke, and groaning at the rest, which doesn't sound great, but is at least better than a lot of low budget comedies I come across. My biggest problem when it comes to the film's attempt at humor are two fold. Most glaringly, the movie all too often falls into the Family Guy trap of confusing crass vulgarity for funny, and secondly, when trying to relay the jokes, even some that may have been funny are repeatedly butchered by overacting. I get the feeling that this might have been someone's independent stage production brought to film, with much of the acting still stuck in that broad over the top mode. I can't help but think back to FDR: American Badass, which had this first problem to a lesser extent, but still managed to be one of my favorite movies of 2012 because of its lack of the second. No one is necessarily unwatchably bad, they're just trying way too hard, and it shows.

Despite a few too many cringe-inducing failures at comedy, I still found myself smiling through most of Bloody Bloody Bible Camp, the incidental upticks carrying me through the vast swaths of painfully cheap crudeness. I liked the purposely blank delivery and heroic turn of the redneck general store owner and his monosyllabic siblings, I liked the cynical digs at religious hypocrisy even though many were more blunt and obvious then they could have been, and of course, I loved Ron Jeremy's cameo as Jesus Christ, though I definitely think he should have been in the film a lot more than he was. Much of the gore is exaggerated for comic effect, but a lot of the Final Girl action towards the end was surprisingly effective even by legitimate horror standards. I'm not saying it was scary, as everything before and after it was so goofy, but it was staged and shot better than I would have thought, to the point that it might have been a solid ending had this been a serious effort and not a parody.

Overall, I'd say this movie is for low-budget gore devotees only. Basically, the title and box cover art are the best clue you have to whether or not you'll like the movie. If like me you heard the title and said there was no way you weren't going to see it, chances are its right up your alley. If you immediately think the idea is stupid or offensive, that's probably exactly how you'll view the film itself. As someone in the former camp, I can't say it delivers on all the promise of its premise, but it did just enough to satisfy me nonetheless.

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