As a wise man once said “Porn send ups are tricky because 85% of the time you will only get a semi-clever send up title attached to a film that opts not to spoof its namesake in the least.” So very true. Setting out to (e)rectify that grave error is former stand-up comic turned porn star and now writer-director Jonathan Morgan.
While I don’t really follow the adult industry, I do know that 2005 was the year that the pendulum finally swung away from the relentless plotless extreme compilation videos and lavish productions like Private’s big budget PIRATES (2005) became huge hits. CAMP CUDDLY PINES POWERTOOL MASSACRE may not have broken the mainstream barrier as PIRATES did, but it still mounts an entertaining production that offers more than just a Ken and Barbie doing the horizontal hula. Even so, it does find itself stumbling over it’s own raison d'etre like the proverbial scream-queen being chased through the proverbial woods.
In 1958 in Illinois a boy in a clown mask kills his sister with an electric carving knife after watching her put an end to her boyfriends frustrations on the living room sofa. This boy, as it turns out, is the bastard son of one hundred maniacs, begotten when an orderly in an asylum for “the criminally insane and wayward strippers” is, ummm, gang-raped by a group of improbably hot chicks (are mental patients really allowed to have tongue studs?). On his 18th birthday, after years of electroshock therapy, the boy is released into society and gets a job as the caretaker of Camp Cuddly Pines. Flashback to 1985 (presumably still in Illinois), where a heavy breather in a clown mask watches two camp counselors make it on a bridge before killing them with an cordless drill. I know what you’re thinking, “cordless drill, naked campers, an X-rating... this has gotta be some crazy-gory shit!” Sorry. It’s not. Some blood sprays on their faces as they scream, or rather attempt to, as the acting chops are in need of some serious honing, but don't expect anything in the way of latex effects or even a damn cut-out machete. Anyway, after being caught and freed by the courts on a technicality, the locals hunted the guy down and burned him alive (causing his clown mask to melt onto his face!). Too bad they don’t show that as a flashback!
Meanwhile Josh (Tommy Gunn) runs across a native American spirit guide who he’s concerned will eat his brains (“no idiot, that’s a zombie, I’m a spirit!”), but that is obviously not the part of his anatomy that she is looking to gobble. My big question is where did they get the condoms? And more importantly, do you really need a condom if you are going to have sex with a non-corporeal entity? And maybe... if that entity turns into a homicidal raccoon, are you then guilty of bestiality? These are the things that keep me awake at night. But I digress. The rest of the group re-unites and decides to wait in the cabins for the sheriff (Randy Spears) who the hillbilly called via his radio (says the blonde Kirsten: “why do you have a radio made of ham?”). While getting firewood Todd stumbles across a well (in the middle of the woods?). A creepy girl with long hair, eyeblack and white robe climbs out and well, you get the idea. I don’t remember the chick from THE RING having a hot bod, but hey, we never did get to see her naked. She could be totally smokin’ under that robe, you don’t know.
One by one the cast gets picked off, complete with recurring raccoon attacks, a melted-faced killer, more sex, groin humor and a twist ending.
Not content to spoof a whole host of popular horror offerings, including THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2003), I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER (1997), HALLOWEEN (1978), FRIDAY THE 13th (1980), A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984), THE RING (2002), Morgan even steal bits of comedy from NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION (1983) and HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE (2004). At times it feels like it’s a little too derivative and trying way too hard to be a (I can’t believe I’m saying this) more tasteful equivalent of SCARY MOVIE (2000), but taken on it’s own terms, I have to say I enjoyed it more than anything the Wayan’s have made in the past decade. Not saying much, I know.
I don’t know whether it was because I had just watched the painfully unfunny CANNIBAL CAMPOUT (1988) or not, but some of the lines were pretty damn funny all things considered. Stormy Daniels plays her dumb-blonde routine with the uncannyness of a method actor, and Randy Spears completely steals the show as the local sheriff who he plays as sort of a bastard child of Bo Hopkins and John Wayne, perfectly satirizing the clichéd (but no less essential) redneck sheriff character found in countless horror films. Hell, you could have centered the movie around his character as Spears’ sense of comic timing and delivery actually had me laughing out loud. Intentional humor that is actually funny in a porno? Say what?! Seriously, if I was a legit producer of mainstream films, after seeing this, I’d be all over Randy Spears. …wait, that didn’t sound right.
|Masterson and Voodoo get the|
news that there won't be a sequel
On the horror end, you’d think that they might throw down some seriously crazy gore, or at least a little something more than a PG-rated horror flick would deliver. I mean, with a title with the words POWERTOOL MASSACRE, I think it’s fair to have some expectations. Hey, this is an “adults only” title, you can go nuts and there’s no one to stop you, not even Jack Valenti! Clearly they have some talented make-up people on hand as the prosthetic appliances for the hillbilly caretaker and the burned killer are really impressive and good enough for any Hollywood film. In spite of all that the only thing you are going to see during the attacks is some blood sprayed and splashed around. A gimmick used by low-budget (and MPAA-weary) filmmakers are “reveals”: a character is killed off camera and their corpse is found later so that the filmmakers don’t have to spend the money to do a gore effect. Here we have a few reveals at the end of the film, but it's just the actors with some blood splashed on them. One was supposed to have had a circular saw driven into his chest, but his corpse and shirt are strangely intact. In spite of the major pitfalls Morgan wrestles with, he manages to make a surprisingly entertaining flick that is worth a rental if nothing else.