Cannibal Campout (1988)

Originally published in Bleeding Skull! A 1980s Trash-Horror Odyssey.

Normal film: “I would like to have sex with you.”
Cannibal Campout: “You can suck my cock and I’ll lick your pussy.”

Normal film: Pregnant women are treated with utmost respect.
Cannibal Campout: Someone eats a fetus.

Normal film: Photography is in focus and appropriately composed.
Cannibal Campout: A fly lands on the lens.

Cannibal Campout is not a normal film. That’s why you should watch it.

Jon McBride has carved a career out of SOV filmmaking, most famously with Feeders and his later association with Mark and Jon Polonia. Cannibal Campout is McBride’s debut. It’s an attempt at creating a simplistic, full-length gore film for nothing but shits and giggles. Armed with an off-the-shelf camcorder, he did just that.

A woman jogs to the shittiest synth-pop of all time — even worse than the non-hits in Demon Queen. Her head meets an ax at the hand of a man wearing a jet-fighter helmet. Then, some overzealous college kids decide to take a camping trip for the weekend. Sure enough, three backwoods brothers (straight man, crazy guy, and a “retard”) abduct the crew. The brothers talk about cocks and pussies. They overact, and then underact. Lots of time is spent depicting endless walks in the woods. There’s a flashback rape and lots of full-throttle disembowelment. A victim threatens, “You don’t know how lucky you are that I’m tied up!” three times in 45 seconds. That made me laugh.

Cannibal Campout is a mixed bag. It’s a derivative triple split between laughs, boredom, and violence. The tone shifts drastically, never choosing between comedy (“You axed for it!”) or grittiness (most of the gore looks like borscht). On top of that, the smut talk and underwhelming delivery contrast the competent photography and ominous wooded locations. It’s as if McBride took Just Before Dawn, added several scoops of nastiness, tossed in a single-riff piano score that refuses to die, and hit “Liquefy” on the blender. Then, he poured the results all over a Maxell videotape. Still, I’d watch it again.

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