Sunday, November 18, 2012

Review: Bloody Bloody Bible Camp

Text © Richard Gary/Indie Horror Films, 2012
Images from the Internet

Bloody Bloody Bible Camp
Directed by Vito Trabucco             
Bosko Group                                    
90 minutes, 2012

So, you may ask, just how irreverent is this group in the woods slasher spoof? Well, if you need more information than just the title, the assembly visiting the Happy Day Bible Camp are from St. Judas Catholic Church. And if that doesn’t get ya yet, a very snarky Jesus is played by… wait for it… Ron Jeremy.

As the extended opening credits roll by bit by bit, we meet the first set of ill-fated horndogs coming to share the weekend with beer, sex and the savior in 1977. The body count in just this segment, as they meet insane killer (obviously a guy in a nun’s outfit and a mask), Sister Mary Chopper (Tim Sullivan), is larger than most serious films of this nature, but are equally as gruesome, via various sharp objects (my favorite being the crucifix with the knife on the end).

The ’77 scenes are smartly funny, with one oaf commenting how Star Wars is going to bomb, another discusses the death of Elvis, and everyone is wearing loud-colored polyester. But mostly it’s heavenly profane in language and deed. For example, one woman states, “It would be only Christian of us, good girls of us, to have sex with guys who have penises like Jesus.” That is not a misquote. Another, splayed and ready for rear entry, states lustily, “Backdoor’s always open for Jesus, baby.”  Oh, and someone with a guitar sings a folk ditty that includes the lyrics, “If the devil don’t like this / he can lick my nutsack.”

I wrote down a whole bunch of the lines from this part, but on second thought, I don’t want to stomp on all of them, better if you see it for yourself. And all this is, remember, just the credits.

As the main story begins in 1984, a new set of fodder heads off (pun intended) in a yellow bus to the Happy Day Bible Camp (filmed in Big Bear, California). They are led by the sexual-orientation questioning Father Cummings (yes, sometimes the puns get that obvious), played by horror film stalwart, Reggie Bannister, who rose to fame in the Phantasm (1979) franchise. He also co-produced the film.

Along with him is the obvious bunch of mid-to-late-twenty-year-old teens, including the punk girl Jessie (Deborah Venegas), the dumb blonde, Britany (Jessie Sonneborn), the fat and mentally challenged Timmy (Christopher Raff), the possibly closeted bully/jock Tad (Matthew Aiden), the horny-yet-inexperienced Vance (Troy Guthrie), and the sole survivor of the ’77 attack, Millie (Ivet Corvea). Also along for the ride is another member of the clergy, Brother Zeke (Jay Fields), who is also not adverse to a jump in the sack).

Of course, before they get to the place, they have to stop off at the store so they can be warned by one of the locals (yep, every cliché), who is annoyed by the “goddamn Christians” (more on this later).

There are some particular moments that stand out for me, such as a… well, I’m not sure if it’s a rip-off or a rip-on Blazing Saddles’ (1974) “Whip this out” moment. And I certainly smiled when one character firmly states, “Someone’s going to H-E-L. That’s Hell.”  What made me laugh about this is not the misspelling, but that they explain it to the audience in case they missed it.

It is pretty obvious which character is Sister Mary Chopper; this film obviously does not feel a need for subtly, which is fine by me. I’m not here to watch Monk or The Mentalist, where the viewer tries to work out the mystery, but rather a spoof. While not as slick (i.e., lower budget) as, say, the Scary Movie (2000) satire series, it is successful in its own right that I laughed though a lot of it, while “oh no, they didn’t”-ing in others. The main problem with this film is that it straddles between a satire and a broad comedy, seemly not really sure on which side to focus. But I have to say, on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most annoying, it is somewhere around a 1.5, so no harm, lots of foul fun.

There are multiple good death effects and blood, with some causes being sharp objects or bricks dropped on heads. My favorite one, though, is when one character is nailed to a door frame exactly like the mom at the end of the film Carrie (1976). Hey, spoofs usually riff off other films, and this one does it well.

I’m sure there will be those who say this release is part of the “War on Catholics / Christianity.” Yes, I will agree that this film slams some of the ills of the modern Church, such as one male character being tapped on the shoulder, to which he joyfully says, “What, Father, again?” The Catholic Church especially has opened itself up to specific cultural ridicule for the way it has handled certain situations (e.g., I remember being in Canada in the late 1980s and there was an article that investigated that a large number of the priests and brothers on Newfoundland were transferred there after hidden scandals involving pedophilia).

But honestly, I believe (pun intended) that this crew was going for shock value, rather than trying to make a point. How I imagine the writing sessions is something like: “Is that offensive? Yeah, throw it in!” Besides, there is always going to be somebody offended about something. I remember nearly getting into a fistfight with some tool because he insisted that the titular character in Monty Python’s The Life of Brian (1979) was supposed to be Jesus; I commented that JC appears in the film so how can Brian be Him? That’s when he threatened to take me outside and deck me.  No telling what he thought of Saved! (2004).

While this film does occasionally become a bit too broad for its own good, as a whole, it is definitely a mucho grande fun excursion into, well, one character puts it best: “That’s, like, blasphemy or something!”

There are some enjoyable extras, such as “The Making of a Massacre” (13 minutes), a production photo slide show, and some trailers. Two less successful ones are the dull 12-minute long “Bloody Bloody Special Effects” that shows two talking head guys discussing the SFX in a static manner (go figure), and the feature-length commentary is so overcrowded with director, cast and crew, that there is no coherency, no way to tell who is saying what, and is basically a muddled mess. This film is worth getting on its own, fortunately, so go do that, my child.