Sometimes, the right movie comes along at just the right time. This would be that movie. Today would be that day.
Memorial Valley Massacre — also known as Valley of Death, also known as Son of Sleepaway Camp (complete with the music cues from Sleepaway Camp and hardcore penetration footage) — was released beyond the golden years of the slasher, but damn if it doesn’t make me just as happy as if it had been released between 1979 and 1982.
Evil land developer Allen Sangster (Cameron Mitchell!) has just broken ground on the Memorial Valley Campground and wants some teenagers to build it for him. Nothing happens at all for the first hour, with just one murder — that said, it’s the murder of an obese rich kid on a quad that I was hoping would die painfully and oh yes, he did — but by the end, all manner of slashtastic violence is unleashed.
Did I mention this movie has a cave boy? Yes, much like Encino Man but with death, this wolf child lives in the woods and doesn’t like all these rich folks knocking down his trees.
Beyond Mitchell, this is a junk film fan’s dream, with John Kerry (Dolemite), William Smith (Red Dawn, Terror in Beverly Hills, so many more) and Karen Russell (Hellbent). It’s directed by Robert Hughes, who would go on to make Zadar! Cow from Hell, Hunter’s Blood and Lusty Liaisons II before directing episodes of Mighty Morphing Power Rangers.
Seriously, outside of Don’t Go Near the Park, this is probably my favorite prehistoric people in public lands killing people movie. That said, I only know two of movies of this genre and I love them both.
You can watch this on Amazon Prime or do the right thing and order the Vinegar Syndrome reissue, which is packed with extras, including a 4K reconstruction of the film and interviews with actor John Kerry and director Robert C. Hughes. Rent it now and be assaulted by its soundtrack, which seems way too chipper for the carnage that unspools over the last twenty minutes of running time!