Thursday, November 29, 2007


When I started this project, I made an effort not to compare one movie to another; sure, I may point out if a film tries gamely, but doesn't quite reach a RE-ANIMATOR or DAWN OF THE DEAD level, but I try to take each entry on its own merits (or lack thereof). I've decided, though, to change all that. From now on, when determining just how bad a movie may be, I'll ask myself, "Is it as shitty as ZOMBIE CAMPOUT?"

The flick in question (I won't even deign to call it a movie) is a shot-on-video travesty from 2002, a horror-comedy from writer-director Joshua D. Smith that's neither scary nor funny. (That Smith's name appears 25 times in the end credits is either another example of the lame, unfunny humor that defines this turd, or Mr. Smith has got a grossly disproportinate sense of self-worth as an auteur.)

The plot-in-name-only concerns two young couples who embark on the dullest camping excursion in cinematic history. Everybody knows that the teen-party scenario is just an excuse to showcase drunken excesses and lots of skin, but Smith must've missed the memo. Aside from a little tentative kissing and watching a meteor shower (I'll go on a limb and say the effects probably weren't done by Industrial Light and Magic), these party animals do absolutely nothing. Hell, they even go to bed early so they can be sure and rent a boat in the morning. What responsible young individuals! Seriously, watching someone's actual vacation videos would be vastly more entertaining than this dreck, and that's including the zombie assault (which occurs when the radioactive meteors crash in the nearby cemetery). Also, and at the risk of sounding like a Neanderthal, why would you go through the trouble of having a scene in which the girls change into their bikinis and not show a little T&A? There's nothing else of value in the scene, so why have the girls awkwardly shove their swimsuits under their clothes as they discuss nothing at all?

That's another thing. There's a lot of dialogue in this movie, but Smith apparently also didn't get the memo that the purpose of dialogue is to convey information to the audience, build character, and advance the plot, not to replicate the boring, pointless banter that comprises regular human interaction. (And maybe it's just an unfortunate result of post-production editing, but I hated the lull that floated in between characters' lines, which destroyed any flow the dialogue may have had.) The aimless jabbering doesn't end once the zombies start attacking, either; every scene has at least one meaningless conversation. Even the "climax" (though in this case "the 80-minute mark" would be a more apt description) is bogged down with talk as the surviving members of the cast, trapped inside an SUV surrounded by zombies, debate committee-style what to do instead of actually doing something. Worse yet, it takes TEN FUCKING MINUTES to do it, until they discover that the keys were under the sun visor all along. Who would've thought of that!

Who, besides of course Smith, would find this shit watchable? As much as I hated DIE YOU ZOMBIE BASTARDS! (and God, did I hate it), it at least possessed a frenetic, unrelenting energy to its stupidity. ZOMBIE CAMPOUT is inert and lifeless, going for easy, unimaginative jokes instead of finding genuine humor within his story and characters. Only one bit--in which a zombie is repulsed by the prosthetic limb of one of her victims--had an iota of comedic potential, but Smith breezes past it in favor of self-referential, "ironic" humor, such people who know their fate because they've already read the script, or remarks like "This is just like a bad horror movie." There's a fair amount of gore on display, handled with the same skill as the jokes, for those who like seeing people slathered in Karo syrup.

A movie so wretched I literally got a headache watching it, ZOMBIE CAMPOUT makes the crap in the $5.50 bin at Wal-Mart seem like the work of Orson Welles. Avoid it.

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