Campfire Tales (1997)

DVD Cover (New Line Studios)
Genres / Traits: Creature Film, Haunted House Film, Horror, Horror Anthology, Werewolf Film, Urban Legends
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Matt Cooper Matt Cooper
Martin Kunert Martin Kunert
David Semel David Semel
Jay R. Ferguson Jay R. Ferguson
Christine Taylor Christine Taylor
Christopher Masterson Christopher Masterson
Kim Murphy Kim Murphy
Ron Livingston Ron Livingston

5.4 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: October 07, 2005
Here we have another anthology horror film that plays out in a similar fashion to 1991's Campfire Tales. The two movies share a similar theme (that being short horror stories told around a campfire), but otherwise, they're completely separate movies. Anyway, this one starts out with four teenagers driving down a deserted back-road, where the drunken driver is swerving all over the road and generally making an ass out of himself. While turning a corner, another car appears from out of nowhere and forces the teens off of the road, stranding them out here in the middle of nowhere. The foursome - consisting of Cliff (Jay R. Ferguson), Lauren (Christine Taylor), Eric (Christopher Masterson), and Alex (Kim Murphy) - set up some flares in the road in an attempt to get some help, and decide to pass the time by telling scary stories around a campfire. Three stories are told before the shocking grand finale of the film, and they are as follows.

"The Honeymoon"
This one starts out with a young, newly-married couple on their way to a honeymoon party in Las Vegas. Rick (Ron Livingston) and Valerie (Jennifer MacDonald) are traveling via an RV and intend to see the country on their way to Vegas, and on this particular night, Rick decides to make a stop to see some old caves. He gets a bit sidetracked, however, and the couple ends up stranded in the middle of the woods. Making the best of the situation, they decide to pass the time with a little post-marital sex. After the whoopie has been made, Rick hears some noises coming from outside, and upon investigation, he finds a crazy-looking man with a shotgun poking around. A discussion between the two is had, in which the old man tells Rick that "they" come out when the moon is full and that this couple had better get out of these woods as quickly as possible. The two drive away, get down the road a little bit, and... stop. They laugh off the man's warning and continue the love-making, much to the delight of the things waiting out in the woods.

Depending on your view of what a horror story should consist of, this entry may come off as the best of the bunch. Even though I enjoyed this one, I do have to say that I preferred the second entry myself, but fans of straight-forward monster movies full of blood and gore may very well disagree with me on that one. Once the old man gives the warning and the storyline is set into motion, it's pretty much a non-stop ride until the finish. The best part of this segment is that it doesn't rely purely on "BOO!" scares and having the monster jump from out of nowhere... while both of these effects are used, there's also a lot of mood-building and tension-setting as things move along. This was an entertaining, though forgettable, piece of the movie, but again, fans of these types of monster flicks may enjoy it more. There's a nice nod to an old urban legend at the end of this segment, and although I won't mention which one for fear of spoilers, this was a nice touch and fit in nicely with the overall segment.

"People Can Lick Too"
My personal favorite of the trio centers around young Amanda (Alex McKenna) on the night before her twelfth birthday. Like any young teen, Amanda enjoys getting involved with those internet chat rooms, and through one of these chats, she meets another young girl named Jessica. We watch as the two chat, and Amanda tells Jessica about how her parents are going out for the evening and that she'll be home alone with no one around except for her dog Odin. The two stop chatting after a bit, and we then find out that "Jessica" is actually a pedophile / serial killer (Jonathan Fuller) who intends to pay young Amanda a visit.

The title should give the ending of this one away for those who have heard this urban legend, and although the source material was the most well-known of the three, I still enjoyed this segment the most. I particularly enjoyed the performance by Alex McKenna (who actually was twelve years old during the shoot), a fact which shocked me. I normally don't enjoy kiddie actors, but she actually played her part quite well. The reason that she came off so well is due to the fact that she simply acted like a normal twelve-year-old would act; there was none of this "mature for her age" or "young adult" nonsense that movies now-a-days try to pull. She was simply a kid who acted like a kid, and coupled with a very relaxed, natural screen presence, this added to the storyline tremendously. When the serial killer finally shows up at the house, things seem much more realistic than they would have had this character been played out differently. The final thing that I enjoyed about this one was the way that the final scene was shot. As I mentioned, a good percentage of you readers should know how this one ends based on the title alone... however, the way that this scene is shot and the facial expressions by both parties involved makes for one damned creepy cinematic moment.

"The Locket"
As explained by the story-teller, Scott (Glenn Quinn) is a guy who is traveling across the country on his motorcycle in search of something. He doesn't know what it is that he's searching for, but he figures that he'll find it eventually if he keeps on going. I know, it makes a lot of sense, but it gets better. His motorcycle breaks down in front of an old, seemingly-abandoned house, and if that wasn't bad enough, it begins to pour down rain. Scott figures that knocking on this door is worth a shot, and when he does, he meets the lovely Heather (Jacinda Barrett). Heather is a mute, and the thing that Scott immediately notices on her is the locket that she wears around her neck. The two continue chatting and start to get more than just a little friendly with one another, but Scott soon finds out that this place is haunted... and that these ghosts have no problems getting physical with the living. Heather doesn't want to leave this house, but Scott wants to protect her from these ghosts that mean them both harm... will he succeed?

This story is very loosely based on the short story known as "The Green Ribbon," which appeared in the children's book "Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark." Remember that book? It was the book to have back when those Scholastic book-order sheets came around, surpassing even "Where's Waldo?" in the classroom popularity contest. Ahh... those were the days. Anyway, back on track here. This movie is loosely based on that story in the sense that the main character shares the same unusual trait. I'll say no more, but those who have read the story will know what I mean. The rest of the story has been changed for this movie, so when the ending is revealed, things may get a bit confusing for those who haven't read the story. This was the only real problem that I had with the segment, as it was an otherwise excellent little haunted house flick. Everything that one could ask for is here: violent and blood-soaked flashbacks, strange visions, and one pissed off ghost. It doesn't get much better than that, or so one would think up until the very end.

Overall, this one was comes highly recommended for fans of anthology horror. It's not the best entry in this sub-genre, but it does rank up there in the top ten or so. There's a little something for every horror fan in this collection, so it's definitely worth at least the rental price or the Netflix slot. 8/10.
bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 10/07/2005, 06:22 PM
Great film. Remember seeing this on TV, loving it, and then going out and buying it. Well made straight-to-video release with some genuine creativity.
grain of sand #2: grain of sand - added 01/23/2007, 06:21 PM
I loved the 'scary stories..' illustrations by alvin schwartz.. something like that..

this movie was neat though, easy to find, a good one for a boring night
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