Bert Dragin produced what many consider one of the most accurate
portrayals of the punk scene ever made, 1984's downbeat wonder
SUBURBIA, ably directed of course, by Penelope Spheeris. 2 years
later Dragin took Spheeris' reworking of the Bill Butler book
THE BUTTERFLY REVOLUTION and made his directorial debut with SUMMER
CAMP NIGHTMARE. Smack dab in the middle of the era known for summer
camp sex comedies and summer camp slashers, Dragin might have
made the penultimate summer camp rebellion film.
SUMMER CAMP NIGHTMARE starts off like so many films with the
camp as the main centerpiece. Young folks celebrating summer break,
traveling on a bus to a destination some are familiar with and
others are anticipating. Camp North Pines is the destination.
Peter, one such kid wets himself before they can pull into camp.
The bus also has the older teen counselors, the adult helpers,
and a brand new camp
maybe not be too strong
of a word. Attention Campers! Welcome to North Pines! Where we
got lots of Soul, Rock & Roll, Wild Times
strums a musical
member of the camper elite!
The first ten minutes feels exactly like MEATBALLS; campers check
into their cabins, unpack a variety of items from Porno mags,
to snacks to a tape recorder. There are quick reference to good
junior counselors (Chris), nerdy kids (Donald Poultry, I'm not
making that one up) and of course bad eggs, like Stanley Runk
or Runk the Punk as he refers to himself. Runk looks a little
like a pimple faced less sexy and slightly less gay Billy Squier.
When the new camp director, Mr. Warren is introduced by lovable
Ed Hines (the camp's favorite African American adult) the kids
get a slice of conservative, near-sighted bullshit from The
Rifleman himself, Chuck (butt-fucking) Connors, that's right
I said butt-err-Chuck Connors and Mr. Warren also makes mention
of his pride and joy the camp's new meditation center. As Mr.
Warren talks about rules and shit, he is interrupted every few
seconds by quips from Runk and his pals, grab-dicking, referring
to Warren as being a warden from Alcatraz, a pussy joke or two,
a fruit reference and a bunch of chortles, giggles and guffaws.
Marinara anyone, to go with those MEATBALLS.
But fill up because it's not long before we are introduced to
Franklin Reilly, a military school rock jaw with a button downed
shirt and even more buttoned down attitude towards camp. It seems
Franklin is all serious and shit about camp and has taken some
of his Nazi Military schooling a tad bit serious. He decides a
broken down old swing bridge that separates North Pines from South
Pines (the girls camp) is the perfect place to show he's not a
coward by dangling across the bridge and back. The onlookers cheer
him on until good ol' Ed Hines rushes to his aid just as he finishes
the feat. Franklin, portrayed by Charles Stratton seems like a
pretty good guy, albeit a little tight assed but he saves our
nerdy Donald from drowning and then is off dry off when he walks
in on little pissy Peter, who shares the possibility with Franklin
that Mr. Warren may have tried a little pedophiliac pick-up on
.what? You say. Quickly we have left the realm of the
MEATBALLS, Mr. Warren, who displays his butterfly collection to
the camp and then invites the young kids on a butterfly "hunt"
is a fucking camp directing QUEER or something!
Stratton, looks and acts a little like a lower echelon Kevin
Bacon, if you are a true crazed made for TV movie aficionado you
might remember him from his amazing performance as Randy Gardner
in the awesome ON THIN ICE: THE TAI BABILONIA. In all seriousness
I'm a little surprised he didn't do any more. Especially based
on his performance here. Donald Poultry is a 12 year old, Adam
Carl. Carl showed up recently in THE MEXICAN and has a little
nerdom cred as the kid from the Bigfoot TV series as well as directing
an indy movie or 2. Runk and his best pal Mason are really standout
for the total 80s bathing they bring to the flick. Skintight LevisTM,
wife-beaters, cut-off Iron Maiden shirts, these 2 jokers deliver.
During the talent contest, which involves the gals from South
Pines as well as the boys, they metal up the place as The Horn
Dogs, with their performance of Beef Baloney! As in, she just
wants my Beef Baloney! Runk played by Stuart Rogers who went on
to do one more picture is the typical big haired metal bully.
Mason, John Travolta's nephew, Tom Fridley, is a dead-on a 17
year old Barbarino type. Fridley looks a little like Joey Travolta,
his mom is Ellen, and he still works usually in bit parts that
his relatives have something to do with. He is that dark complected
Italian dude that got laid daily when I was in high school. A
cooler Ralph Machio
After the Horn Dogs racy performance, Mr. Warren calls bullshit
on the festivities, canceling the rest of the show, sending the
girls camping (oh that is good) and also decides the upcoming
dance between the camps is not going down. Franklin calls a meeting
of teen counselors and urges them to take matters into their own
hands during flip-flop day, a day when kids act like administrators
and counselors and the adults of course act like campers. Franklin's
firm yet likable nature lead the campers and teen counselors into
a pact to help free Chris Wayne after he was caught kissing a
girl from South Pines after the Talent Show is cancelled.
During the flip-flop fun Franklin begins to chant "Free
Chris Wayne" the others join in and before long they are
storming the meditation center to unlock Chris. Of course the
adults charge after them to stop them. In all the hubbub, Franklin
pulls a pistol he has stolen from the desk of Mr. Warren
Franklin makes a citizen's arrest on Mr. Warren for what he claims
"he done to Peter." He frees Chris, and locks up Mr.
Warren, Ed fucking Hines, and all the adults. Franklin grabs the
P.A. mic and explains to the campers that they have freed Chris
and begins to call the acts a revolution but all in just "fun."
The whole idea is for all the kids to have fun; Mr. Warren was
"no fun." Franklin of course, frees the girl's camp,
and locks up the lady administration, "all in fun" and
of course, the dance is back on!
From this point on the film takes on a downbeat tone, kids fucking
with reckless abandonment, Franklin is getting more and more power
hungry, Chris is getting more and more frightened about what is
happening. The leadership of the revolution does what ever it
pleases including rape, murder and whatever else they can think
of. Franklin has a skewed sense of doling out justice and the
whole thing becomes reminiscent of LORD OF THE FLIES.
Dragin, does a bang up job, Franklin's Supreme Revolutionary
Committee, is pretty fucking nasty and Dragin doesn't flinch much.
The film seems slightly ahead of its time as I watch it now. With
the current popularity of kid killer films like the Japanese genre
winner BATTLE ROYALE and the rash of school shootings so abundant,
not only here in the USA but abroad as well, SUMMER CAMP NIGHTMARE
was quite a premonition. It is also a symbolic slice of the Reagan/Bush
80s. It's just a kiddy version of what adult yuppies were doing,
"anything for fun and money." This film would make a
perfect double feature with AMERICAN PSYCHO if you are in the
mood to relive the "great 80s."
As for Mr. Warren, Chuck Connors in a pair of Charles Nelson
Riley's glasses (no doubt directly from the old queen's nightstand)
is well, Chuck Connors. His Mr. Warren seems a little too close
to "from the heart." Warren programs the camp's TV to
receive nothing but religious programming, there's plenty of right
wing rhetoric being bandied about and then of course, the allusion
to child molestation that the film makes. Later in the film this
accusation is just sloughed off, but too late to do Mr. Warren
much good. If you haven't heard, Connors, who died in 1992 after
a battle with lung cancer, has been long rumored to swing both
ways. There are supposed 8mm porn loops showing the former Boston
Celtic, as well as International League Baseball player smoking
quite the cock. Best known as a Western
genre standout, Connors once dropped the "Fuck"
bomb while doing commentary on Prime Time Monday Night Baseball.
Ol' Chuck's career fell just short of 40 years and some of his
work is damned right crucial for fans of stinky cinema. SOYLENT
GREEN (gotta wonder if he and the oft rumored closeted fag Heston
got it on), MAD BOMBER, TOURIST TRAP and BANJO HACKETT just a
few of the now classic skuzz Connors has been a part of. Somewhere
between ruggedly handsome and bucket headed ugly lies Chuck Connors
and that strange combination along with some decent acting (Greydon
Clark's SKINHEADS is a standout) make him a BOF Hall of Famer,
not to mention his sordid dick sucking past.
The next time some fan boy starts warbling on about 80s "classics"
like HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY the 13th or THE SHINING, fire back some
SUMMER CAMP NIGHTMARE and chap some dipshit's ass. But the only
way you can do that is to see the damned thing. Well, what in
the Hell are you still doing here?
Mail Prof. Tread
|Mr. Warren gets
an old-fashioned Dick Tease, but they say he likes little
|The Revolution is
on! FREE CHRIS WAYNE and junk!
|That is a great
look for an 11 year-old, guaranteed to get your ass kicked.
|What? Where? Whoooooooa/?
It's a little Travolta!
|Pray for a copy
of Summer Camp Nightmare and you just might get it.
Gestapo Black Exploitation?
From Tobacco Row It's Good!
Squad Join Today!
Meateater Do Not Touch!
Stranger Run Run Opie!
House On Hwy 5 Sheesh!
Locked Doors It's Dirty!
Massacre Some Like It.
Pussy It had to be done
Alley It is Rock.
Woman Truck. Woman.
Freak A Classic for You!
Geek Bigfoot Porn
School Ghosthustlers Wow!
Island You Must See!
Not that kinda Cock!
Alienator Feeling Alienated?
Island Vanity and the Beast
Spree Tim Ritter's $0 budget wonder
Prof. Tread still can't sleep.
Tramp She is sumpin' else.
Footmen Tire You...? Heavy religiosity!
Knievel Evel of Course!
Killing Of A Chinese Bookie! Smart Guy.
Pink Angels Gayness, and Bikes
Burning The 80's, ahhh the 80's.
- The Winged Serpant! Larry Cohen rules!
For Your Life! WARNING Racist content
Tall Buford Pusser in the Hizouse!
Camp Internet Geeks Unite!
Losers Ya Loser!
of the Mutilated Bro. George gets busy.
Me An Angel Gal Biker and more.
Grim Reaper Reap on.
One of William Girdler's triumphs.
At Dawn A Modern Classic.
Boy Carradine, Dress, Dourif!
Hollywood Rape-Slaughter Rare expose'.
Savage Weekend. Take
Dead and Buried.
A Should-be Classic.
Summer In Barefoot County. PeeUww!
Night Train To
Terror Choo Choo!
Drink Your Blood Glug, glug!
Russ Meyer and breasts!
Stop Women Honnnk HonnnnK!
Deadly Darling! Pigs!
the Germ Fighter! Clean up!
Doesn't Cathy Eat Breakfast? Why?!
County Express! Glug, Glug!
The Night God Screamed!
White Dog Racists
City Slickers get offed!
Times Five Sean MacGregor's Titantic!
at the Red Wolf Inn Burp!
Eyes See It
Greatest Sinner One of the best!
Baby! Goo Goo!
Camp Nightmare Viva the Revolution!
of the Beast Creatures Booga!
Play Dead Incest craziness!
of Death Vacation madness!
Come, Evil Go! Bye, Bye Sinners!
Strutters Get Black Sucker!
Pretty Eddie Deep South Craziness!
Golem Jewish Folklore or what?
NYC Apartment Blues
To Kill A Clown
Alan Alda Vietnam Vet!
Spook Who Sat Next To The Door Booya!
Woke Up Early The Day I Died Mr. Ed Wood.
Mutilation Man Andy Copp goes arty on us!
People Across The Lake Good TV!
Woman Hunt Load Up Gents.
Devil At You Heels Daring Devil.
Are The Damned Dammit!
Farm TV movie Classic!