August 8, 2016

DVD Review: Summer Camp

Ever hear of the movie Summer Camp? I hadn’t either until it appeared at a local movie theater a few months ago. The title did not sound all that exciting, so I was going to pass on it, but something told me I should give it a shot. To my surprise it turned out to be a horror movie. Even more surprising was that it was actually pretty good. It has some decent blood and gore, and an old school feel. While it is not exactly a shining piece of original filmmaking, it was surprisingly good and I am glad I decided to check it out. The interesting thing now is to see how well it holds up a few months later.

Summer Camp strikes me as a movie that was shot for an international, as opposed to a US, release. Pantelion Films (who also distributed The Vatican Tapes) handled distribution, and their company seems to handle primarily Spanish language films. Anyway, they put Summer Camp into a few theaters in the hopes of drawing a few bucks. I am not sure how successful the ploy was, as I cannot find any theater count or box office results for it. Also, considering it was a one and done sort of release, you will need to wait for a home video release. I do think it is worth checking out.

The tale tells of four American camp counselors who have been hired to work at a summer camp in Spain. Part of the camp’s goal is to immerse Spanish speaking children in an English language camp, but that is secondary. Much like the beginning of the original Friday the 13th, the counselors have shown up a couple of days early to get things ready for when the kids arrive. They go about their business, looking around, attempting to hook up, and even raiding the camp’s wine cellar (?). You know, typical horror movie camp counselor stuff. Oh yeah, and on their way in, they pass an RV with a sketchy group of campers hanging out on the edge of the property.

The fun begins when one of the would-be counselors goes crazy, turns into this rabid animal. Not literally, but you know the type, the crazy-eyed horror movie infection that leaves the person snarling and viciously violent. This is where things get interesting and everyone begins to turn on each other. The brilliance of the infection in this movie is that it wears off, leaving the person normal and oblivious to what they may have done while under the influence. This allows the killer, if you will, to jump around and become different people over the course of the movie.

The more I think back on Summer Camp, the more I like it. I am not going to go so far as to call it a great movie, but it does have a lot going for it. There are some nice looking practical effects, I particularly liked the drill scene. It blends old and modern sensibilities, making it something of a throwback without really devolving into the camp that the later entries of that era suffered from. It gives us an interesting take on the bad guy. It is has a nice nihilistic ending.

Summer Camp is one of those movies you can watch with little to no expectations and come away pleasantly surprised. I have no problem giving this a recommendation and would certainly watch it again. It holds up pretty well. I think what helps it is the way it doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel and just be an entertaining horror romp. It does have some nice elements to make i stand out but it really lives on the execution. Certainly worth spending a little time with.

The DVD is presented in a ratio of 1.85:1 and generally looks pretty good. It gets a little dark and loses some detail in the darkest of scenes, but it does the job well and usually has some solid detail levels. Audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 (and is English, despite what the box says, which claims Spanish) and it does the trick, nice clear dialogue and nice score representation. Nothing out of the ordinary, but certainly does the trick. So far as extras go, there is nothing, not even a trailer.


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