And you thought the Amityville Universe and Demons sequels and sidequels system was off the rails: we dared explored those Xerox’d realms with our “Exploring: So What’s Up with All of the Demons Sequels” and “Exploring: Amityville.” And now it’s time to delve into the twisted, clown-haunted woods of the Camp BloodVerse.
And you have me, R.D Francis, to thank for it . . . no, really . . . I think this one is Sam’s fault, since he came up with a “Rock ‘n’ Roll Week II” . . . but, well, I did pick Dennis Devine’s second direct-to-video feature, Dead Girls (1989), to review during that theme week. So that brings us to his newest, 30th directing effort, Camp Blood 8: Revelations.
Yes, you heard me right: that’s not a parody title. There actually were seven Camp Blood films prior. So, strap on the popcorn bucket, as there’s lots to unpack.
It all starts with a then budding, fifteen-year-old writer and director by the name of Brad Sykes who started capturing his Virginia Beach, Virginia, Kayo syrup n’ red food coloring romps on a Hi-8 camera. Then he went off to Boston University where he graduated cum laude and double-timed with Paramount and Tony Scott’s Scott Free Productions. He eventually ended up in Los Angeles and incorporated Nightfall Pictures which, to date, has built a twenty-six film resume.
And it all began with his 1999 feature film debut, Camp Blood.
Now, if you know your ’80s slasher flicks, you know we have a maniac in the woods and — based on the legends about a boiler suit n’ clown mask-adorned killer stalking the woods — the smart ass teens christened the kiddie vacay spot Camp Blackwood as you-know-what. And, with that, let slip the clowns of war with a soon-to-be twenty-two year run of sequels. And the shenanigans at ol’ Camp Blackwood are so off the rails that it’s also dragged shot on digital video-PowerPoint purveyor Mark Polonia (Amityville Deathhouse, Amityville Exorcism, Empire of the Apes) into its twistyverse.
So, the rundown:
- Camp Blood 2 (2000) — directed by Brad Skyes (Plot: A meta film-within-a-film romp as a film is made about the murders of the first film.)
- Within the Woods, aka Camp Blood 3 (2005) — directed by Brad Sykes (Plot: A sidequal; Is the clown really back, or is it a prank?)
- Camp Blood 3, aka Camp Blood First Slaughter (2014) — directed by Mark Polina (Plot: Actually 4th in the series; a prequel about dopey college students going into the woods on a class assignment to debunk the legend.)
- Camp Blood 4 (2016) — directed by Dustin Ferguson (Plot: Dopey college kids camp out in the infamous woods on their way to a rock concert; Raven survives.)
- Camp Blood 5 (2016) — directed by Dustin Ferguson, who is back in the AmityvilleVerse with 2021’s Amityville in the Hood and working on 5G Zombies with John R. Walker of Ouijageist. (Plot: Raven, the lone survivor of Part 4, returns to the woods to destroy the Camp Blood Killer.)
- Camp Blood 666 (2016) — directed by Ted Moehring, of the 2010 backyard Giallo Bloodbath in the House of Knives. (Plot: A girl heads into the woods to search for her brother who joined a Satanic Clown Cult; meanwhile, the dead Camp Blood Killer is back from hell for revenge.)
- Camp Blood 7, aka It Kills (2017) — directed by Mark Polonia (Plot: Dopey fall breakers break down in the woods.)
- The Ghost of Camp Blood (2018) — directed by Mark Polonia (Plot: While 9th in the series, it’s actually a sidequel/spin-off; the spirit of the Camp Blood Killer is on the loose from beyond the grave.)
- Camp Blood 8: Revelations (2020) — directed by Dennis Devine (Actually film #10, got that?)
- Camp Blood 9: The Fall of Camp Blood (2021) — a fan film directed by short film purveyor Riley Lorden, who gained notice for his fan shorts of Halloween and Friday the 13th, in his feature-length film debut (Plot: From the looks of the theatrical one-sheet, its a Jason vs. Clown, Jr. romp.)
So, to recap: Camp Blood was followed by seven official sequels, one official spin-off, aka Ghost of Camp Blood, and one unofficial film, aka Within the Woods. But 4, 5, 6, 7, Ghost, Revelations, and the upcoming Fall to do not follow the timeline from Within the Woods. Got that? Are you as confused as you were with James Cullen Bressack’s JenniferVerse, which recently released its latest sequel-sidequal For Jennifer (2020), ’cause that ain’t headlice or dandruff yer scratchin’, son. That be films rattlin’ ’round the cranium.
But seriously, folks: As with Demons and Amityville, and House (remember how House II: The Second Story became La Casa 6 in Europe), aren’t we just slapping “Camp Blood” on any summer camp slasher that flows down the digital gateways? And now, the Mexican folklore of La Llorona* — absconded by The Conjuring series of films as its sixth installment, aka, The Curse of La Llorona, is heading into ubiquitous sequels territory.
Anyway, back to Camp Blood.
Now, according to the “legend” set forth in The Ghost of Camp Blood, the infamous Blackwood Forest was haunted by the vengeful spirit of the Camp Blood Killer . . . from beyond the grave. But the clown-masked killer was vanquished when the haunted mask was destroyed. But the original clown from Camp Blood 5, who died, actually has a son who took up the mask and machete from ol’ pop. And Clown, Jr. has an overbearing and sexually-twisted mommy. (Remember now: in 6, it was Clown, Sr.’s ghost and not a “real” clown killer.)
And that gets us up to speed for Double D’s contribution with four bikini-clad volley ball players and their coach (as only Dennis Devine can film them) on the way to a VB tornament in Utah. Of course they take the usual they-shouldn’t-have shortcut (Duh!) and, wouldn’t ya’ know, their brand spankin’ new, red Mercedes Benz breaks down. And they go looking for help. And they find a cabin where there’s some mommy n’ son incest of the Charles Kaufman’s Mother’s Day variety goin’ on. Yep. The girls go head-to-head and limb-to-limb with Clown, Jr. and crazy mommy.
Oh, the twist: Helping the girls is a friendly ghost of the Casper variety that — of course! — has a psychic link with one of the girls. And if you’re a regular visitor to the Blackwood Forest, you notice You Tube star and now indie horror regular Shawn C. Phillips, who appeared in Camp Blood 4 and 5, is back as a hermit-survivalist, and the Thatcher character from Brad Sykes’s Camp Blood 1 (Joe Haggerty of Dennis Devine’s go-to writer Steve Jarvis’s 1993 film Flesh Merchant) is back as his crazy-ass, usual self spewin’ doom ‘n gloom to the cast.
Everything — as is the case with direct-to-video homage to slashers of future past — is played for the cheeky camp; however, unlike those Carpenter knock-offs of future past, Devine has forgone practical, in-camera kills n’ splatter for CGI effects that comes in the form of a throat slice and three chest stabs-by-machete, a decap-by-axe, a mad mommy strangulation, and a good ol’ fashioned head-to-the-tree bashing. And while we are reasonable watchers and take into account we are in the ultra-low-budget backwoods of Carpenterville — less about $340,000 of Carp’s reported 350 k budget for his 1978 game changer — its looks pretty weak. A digital Tom Savini this is not.
But you know what? I don’t care. It’s a Dennis Devine picture and he’s been giving me quality entertainment since I purchased Dead Girls via mail order all those years ago. And it feels like the ol’ SOV-VHS ’80s all over again. And it’s good to be home.
Speaking of out-of-control and off-the-rails franchises: Dennis Devine has entered the La LloronaVerse as well, with The Haunting of La Llorona (2019). And again: the mysteries of the Blackwood Forest ain’t done yet: Camp Blood 9: The Fall of Camp Blood is currently in production. You can learn more about CB 9 at their official Facebook page.
Camp Blood 8: Revelations recently made its free-with-ads stream debut on TubiTv. We’re pretty much booked up with slasher flicks for October, so we probably won’t get to review it in time, but you can check out Devine’s The Haunting of La Llorona on TubiTv.
You can also catch up with last October’s “Slasher Month” with a complete list of all the reviewed films, Top Ten Lists, and feature articles about the genre.
We also get into the history and birth of the Slashers of the ’80s with our “Exploring: Giallo” featurette, which also features links to all of the films we reviewed last June as part of our “Giallo Month.”