Welcome to review #3, we have a small announcement to make before getting on with it.
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Thank you, and now to this review….
*** If you haven’t seen this movie before, I recommend you do it now unless you want it to be spoiled almost immediately. ***
Here is the video…
I struggled for a while with how to review this movie. It is one of those “So bad it’s good” movies, and I can probably watch it every day and not get bored. At the end of the day, it is indeed a film and it doesn’t get as much attention as I think it should. The director does a bit of a magic trick by showing you what happens, while at the same time hoping you will be too distracted by what else is going on to really pay enough attention. On first watch you definitely don’t notice, but ever since then I have taken note that it was the girl who died in the water…as they show the boy alive after the accident.
However the next scene they introduce Angela instead of the boy, as well as the mother who is insane. She happens to be a doctor, she also happens to force the boy to be raised as his sister Angela. This is 500 feet deep of fucked up, but it is all revealed at the end of the movie. Instead we are treated by a mother who can’t speak her lines because she must sing them. Ricky, her son, is tired of her shit. When he asks if she packed any chips, she informs him that she packed a whole bag. Which is, of course, preferable to loose chips in a bag full of other items of food.
We then spend far too long watching the mother explain that she has forgotten something, then realizing that she tied a string around her finger to remember, but then forgetting what it was she tied a string for…then remembering what she needed. She needed their physicals for camp, and they cannot tell anyone where they came from (although they do know that she is a doctor). Clearly this scene is supposed to be reminiscent of those times when you try to remember something but then forget it, despite it being important. Unfortunately it adds nothing to the movie, except to reinforce that everyone is insane and to give some cryptic hint that something is weird with one of them. Last thing about the mother (at least for now), she is the only mother depicted in this movie. The movie starts with the “In Fond Memory of Mom, A Doer” tribute. How fucked up must this guy’s mom have been to tribute this movie to her?
Before going any further I must state that this movie had an original full orchestral score. 1983 was a great time to be alive, as this shitty movie was able to afford this somehow. Edward Bilous is credited on wikipedia for the music, which is probably true. The music stands out at times, especially near the beginning when we are introduced to our next group of characters…
As the buses drop the kids off at the camp, the children have to run down a big hill towards the cabins. This is where we meet Paul, Ricky’s friend, who is a nice guy overall. We are introduced to Judy, one of the villains in the movie. She went steady with Ricky the year before, but now has big tits and doesn’t need Ricky. We also meet the cooking staff which features a pedophile that describes the children as “baldies”, which is a term I have started using to describe the freshmen on campus here. The assistant head chef is James Earl Jones’s father, which you can tell based purely on his voice. Now, I don’t know if JEJ’s father was already an accomplished actor…but the fact that his father had to do this movie despite Star Wars Episode 6 coming out that year as well probably means James Earl Jones wasn’t one for sharing money with his family.
After meeting the rest of the supporting cast, we see the cafeteria. Everyone is eating, having a good time, except for Angela who doesn’t care to do so. Ronnie, one of the people who helps run the camp, decides to bring Angela into the kitchen to see if the head chef could make something special for her. He decides to give her a cockmeat sandwich, but Ricky fortunately rescues her. Later that day, when making a freakishly large pot of corn, someone gets the chef to drop the pot on himself. It sounds convoluted, and it is. As far as I know, he doesn’t die, but he is in excruciating pain. When asked how his eyes were, the EMT says that it is too early to tell…which is the most important part of a pedophile.
Immediately afterwards we are treated by a typical camp prank and a game of baseball between the two boys cabins. The baseball scene is probably my favorite, as it exposes two things about this movie. 1. The director believes that all kids are complete assholes. They have great insults, trash talk during underhand pitch baseball, and throw the F Bomb around far more than I think anyone does. When asked what they are going to wager on the game, one kid (Billy) tells Ricky to “Fuck a man, asshole” while Ricky responds with “That sounds a bit steep, make it five”. I assume he means five dollars, but on further review it could mean five men. Lastly, when trash talking Billy tells Ricky to, “Eat shit and Die…” to which Ricky responds, “Eat shit and live, Bill”. I am definitely in favor of using this response more often in our current lexicon.
2. People in the 80s wore incredibly tight and short clothing. There is nothing wrong with being gay, in fact I encourage it, but I would not be surprised if these kids were getting it on together. There is a lot of evidence of this, I think. Not only do they embrace their bodies a lot, they also skinny dip together (specifically without any girls), they get into a water balloon fight on the roof of a cabin, some wear see-through shirts, and they jump on each other. The early 80s might be more tolerant of homosexuality than the modern day, but I am probably wrong about that.
Angela and Paul get into a budding relationship which makes Judy jealous. I am not quite sure I understand Judy’s hatefulness towards Angela. I think she just really wants the D but she sees Angela getting attention (only from Paul) without actually putting out. Meanwhile we get out second (or really first) death of the camp, when one kid who bullied Angela earlier, drowns in the lake. To describe the events that led to his death would take a lot of time for no payoff, I just recommend watching the movie. Mel, who runs the camp and also smokes cigars like they are going out of style (like his clothing), is rightfully concerned about the future of the camp after a death like this.
We steadily move along through the story. You get to see Judy’s nipples through her shirt, which makes a viewer uncomfortable since I know that the actors for the campers are all under 18. Paul kisses Angela for the first time, which can only be described as stealing a kiss (in fact, two) because she doesn’t even flinch when it happens. The boys do another prank on the nerdy kid with the old “shaving cream and a feather” trick. This character, Mozart, fell asleep reading a nudey mag. I know this because his fly is buttoned but he has the magazine on his chest. He reacts by pulling out a knife and threatening to kill Ricky with it, and dancing around the room trying to stab him. The knife is taken by a counselor, and the mood flips because Paul got back from kissing Angela and the boys all jump on him. I am really just describing these scenes, watch the movie because it is as ridiculous as I am making it out to be.
While the boys are definitely mean, the girls do not hold back. Most of the time we see Meg (M-E-G) she is yelling at Angela for not participating in the activities. Judy says some incredibly mean things at her, in fact one of those things is my favorite insult from this movie. “You’re a real carpenter’s dream. Flat as a board and easy to screw.” She said this believing that Angela refused to shower with everyone else because she hasn’t reached puberty yet. This is now my go to insult when I yell at those darn freshmen on campus.
This movie isn’t even 90 minutes long and I am only half way through the movie as I am reviewing it. Just know that I tried to keep this review as short as possible and omitted many things to keep this review from getting out of hand.
Billy dies next, unfortunate, but he had to go because he threw that darned water balloon at Angela. He had to go take a wicked dump before playing a baseball game, but instead a bee hive is dropped on him in the bathroom.The killer cuts open a hole in the screen with the knife that Mozart had earlier, and Billy gets his face eaten by bees because he cant escape the bathroom. A wicked dump indeed.
Mel suspects that Ricky is the killer, as he has seen the hate in his eyes towards the other campers. Also this is the only scene I can remember that Mel isn’t smoking or about to smoke a cigar. Angela and Paul go to the beach to fool around, which goes well until Paul tries to unbutton Angela’s shirt. She goes catatonic once again, and remembers that time seeing her dad and her dad’s gay lover together in bed. Oh, did I forget to mention this earlier?
In the beginning of the movie Angela (then called Peter) and the real Angela are playing on the lake with their father. They tip over the sailboat by being clever schemers, and a man from the beach tells him that the Doc will be there soon. The man on the beach is the dad’s lover, meanwhile he responds to seeing his lover die in a very strange way. The photo above is his response. Which brings me to another point, people in this movie respond to death in weird ways. Okay, back to the movie…
So after this weird memory sequence which takes place in a black box, Angela runs away leaving Paul with blue balls. Angela stumbles on Paul and Judy making out in the woods while playing capture the flag…which causes Angela to revert back to her old self whenever Paul tries to talk to her. The girls (Judy and M-E-G Meg) physically carry Angela and throw her into the water, while Mel restrains Ricky from helping her. Ronnie can be seen lifting weights in the background, which really caps off this wonderfully scripted scene.
We have reached the home stretch of this movie, the final night. The counselor who is in charge of the younger campers has them go on a camping trip to the other side of the lake to sleep outdoors. M-E-G Meg has the night off and asks Mel out for dinner at his cabin, which excites Mel since he is about to get his freak on with a 16 or 17 year old. M-E-G Meg goes next door to shower since their shower is full, also the cabins have been consolidated because of the death, so the cabin is empty. The killer stabs meg through the wall of a shower and kills her. She stays against the wall of the shower, standing but dead, until Mel walks by several hours later.
Paul feels bad about making out with Judy and begs Angela for a second chance. Angela tells him to go to the beach later, ooh la la. Meanwhile Judy heads to the cabin to get the D from a boy, but Mel walks in while looking for M-E-G Meg (this is right before he encounters her in the shower). The guy is able to hide, but leaves after because he is worried about getting caught. This is when the killer comes in and shoves Judy’s curling iron up her vagina and, I think, kills her. I am not a doctor though.
People start discovering the bodies. Hell, even the kids that are camping on the other side of the lake get brutally murdered. Everyone starts freaking out. Mel finds Ricky and beats him until he is unconscious, but Ricky is not the killer! Mel dies by being shot through the throat with an arrow.
Ronnie and one other counselor stumble onto the beach and see Angela sitting there, humming a song. As they approach we can see Paul lying there, with his head in her lap, and they are naked. We are then taken on another memory trip where we see the mother talking to Peter, the boy who is now Angela, about how they need a girl because they already have Ricky in the house. This ultimately reveals that Angela is actually a boy who has been forced to grow up as a girl. Angela then stands up and makes a hideous sound with a creepy face, and confirms that Angela has a penis. Also she decapitated Paul.
This ends the movie. Really, this is the end. Roll credits over the face. Its done. See for yourself.
This movie is a cult classic for a reason. The writing, sound mixing, dialogue, acting, characters, plot, are all either bad or ridiculous (or both). An original orchestral score accompanying this movie only adds to the surrealness of the experience. However, the twist at the end is where the beauty is. Its very hard to predict unless you have been very aware of a few things and made some assumptions about them. Such as, why did the mom do the physicals? Why doesn’t Angela do anything with anyone? If you answer, “Because Angela has a penis” you would be correct.
Overall this film is a must-see if you like bad movies. Each scene is special in its own way. It reminds me closely of Troll 2 in how bad it is, but isn’t quite on that level. 25/100 only because I am trying to review how good a movie is.
This movie spawned 2 sequels starring Bruce Springsteen’s daughter as Angela, and another sequel which released in 2008 which reprises much of the original cast.
The police officer from midway through the movie returns at the end, this time wearing a fake mustache.
The actor who plays Mel died from cancer before the film was released, I am sure the cigars had nothing to do with it.
The cast wore their own clothes, which is a positive and a negative. A positive because some of the shirts, like the Blue Oyster Cult one, were awesome. A negative because you see very clear outlines of penises, and lots of teens wearing short shorts.
Last week: Mad Max: Fury Road
Next week: American Beauty