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Recreational outside sleep comes in several flavors.  The two most common types I see are camping-camping, the classic--where you retreat to the wild to disconnect on some level and do shit like hike or take fewer showers, and then drunk-camping, the one where you get intoxicated somewhere remote so no one calls the cops. They can be pretty fucking different types of experiences, but the overlap is possible as well. The first is the kind of thing that you might do with your family and bring along special supplies for. I'm good to go with the right clothes, a tent and some food. You can make it on that and a fire alone, but a lot of people go all out with special camp vehicles equipped with more electronics than the fictional middle-class home in the Best Buy ad. It's a relaxing excuse not to do regular human shit, for most, but an over vocalized hobby for others. In the drunk version, you and a bunch of friends go to a campsite with good parking and get fucked up, that's it. You can bring a tent or a camper, but sleeping is optional, and you really don't want to bring anything too valuable as shit has a tendency to go down. It's not always easy to tell the two types apart at first, but it's usually pretty evident which one you have had by the next morning. I guess both are pretty equal as far as enjoyment goes, in my opinion, although I need to be in the right mood and with the right people to really have fun with either. Horror films depict a third type which, luckily, I have never experienced. I call that one murder-camping. It's kind of a mix of both usually, but perfectly calculated to separate participants so they can be killed. There is a little drinking, some campfire stories, maybe a wiener roast, but at some point, some extra happy campers pair up to do some nature fucking, or some asshole goes off alone to piss and never comes back. A lot of the time it can take place in a cabin, and there can be various underlying initial reasons for the camping trip. I assume you can tell that version of camping has occurred when (if) you wake up the next morning as well. It's not to be confused with the Murder-Summer Camp, which is pretty much the same thing but with counselors. For an unabashed, derivative example of Murder-Camping we can look at the third flick in the straight-to-video Camp Blood series: Within the Woods (2005).
The story picks up after the events of the first two films (Camp Blood 1 & 2) and the legend of clown-guy has only grown, despite the other two having the "twist" in their endings. To capitalize on the notoriety of Camp Blackwood AKA Camp Blood (which is possibly a different location from other two films in actuality, but still hardly a “camp”) a sleazy tv producer, Tony (David Sobel), develops a reality TV show based around blood-soaked events and their folklore. We hear all of the underdeveloped details of his pitch as he leads his assistant, Ingrid (Janelle Herrera), blindly to the location he has scouted out (supposedly the location of the other murders). The show’s premise revolves around having five attention starved contestants all competing for a cash prize, the idea being that those who make it twenty-four hours, without chickening out, can split the pot. He shows Ingrid the cameras he has hidden in trees and introduces her to Griff (Jeff Swarthout), his hired clown killer impersonator. Tony figures if he scares everyone off, it will equal big ratings and he will be able keep the dough that's up for grabs. He then ditches Ingrid out there with Griff for … reasons and heads to some brick and mortar facility somewhere to watch all the shit play out on CCTV while eating jelly beans out of a vase. Pissed off because she has just been taken to a crime scene and was dropped off without warning, Ingrid stops to unbutton her shirt (for some reason) but is interrupted by Griff who already seems to be practicing his creep routine. Very soon afterward, when she has finished whatever she was doing with her shirt, poor Ingrid is hacked to death by a man in a different (definitely more expensive but somehow shittier) clown mask. Tony takes her radio silence to mean that she has left the project and starts yelling at Griff after he says he hasn't seen her in a while. The contestants begin to meander in and meet up by chance in “the woods” as, seemingly, the show has little in the way of a host (I mean even survivor has that dude in cargo shorts). Only four of the show's participants turn up at first, luckily they are pretty well-rounded cliches, having a sleeveless jock (Phil Lander), the fame-hungry blond (Erin Holt), a chain-smoking stoner guy ( in one of those stupid floppy fisherman hats) and a school teacher (). By the time the fifth member of the party shows up, Griff (unbeknownst to anyone) has already been killed in some surprise clown-on-clown violence, and the jock, Russ, is holding the wannabe pop star, Kat’s, hand like they have dated since high school. Camping shit follows as in, a fire gets made, there is some more killing, and sooner or later someone gets to pull off the killers mask like at the end of a Scooby Doo episode.
The series is the brain baby of director Brad Sykes and producer David S. Serling. Presumably conceived after spending two weeks locked in a house with the entire Friday the 13th collection, some ICP CDs and a tube of airplane glue. Sykes brought the first three Camp Blood films to life starting with the “original” in 2000. Into the Woods originally served as the third film in the series which capped off the low budget trilogy. It was the last Camp Blood with Sykes involvement before the series was picked back up in 2014 by Mark Polonia with his sequel Camp Blood: First Slaughter. For whatever reason Polonia’s semi-found footage entry, First Slaughter, ignores the events of Within the Woods and even uses the name Camp Blood 3 on some media. The film was followed by its own sequels Camp Blood 4 (2016 Dustin Ferguson), Camp Blood 5 (2016 Dustin Ferguson), Camp Blood 666 (2016 Ted Moehring) and  It Kills (2017 Mark Polonia), all with the involvement of Serling. I don't really understand the retcon; It does nothing for the handy cam film that followed. The subsequent movies are all fun but somehow lose a little of the original trilogy's soul (for me at least). They don't quite hit the same notes and come across less consistent(for lack of a better word). Maybe it's just me, but the three original movies make a nice little trash trilogy, and really all the world needs is another senseless retcon.
Made with very little money and shot on location in the closest thing to a forest available, Within the Woods, like the previous Camp Blood movies before it, is a very special type of garbage. There is some kind of enigmatic joy that can be squeezed from the shaky, flawed footage and whatever-works, frugally thrown together effects. The third film in the series steps up the game a little. The cinematography seems to be more controlled than in the first two, and the sound matches up when people are talking (for the most part). There are a few moments in the beginning that almost reach the heights of cable TV movie quality, and it's even got its own crap-pop theme song. This one feels a little less like a messy clip show of various women running through a field, as a Jason clone in a clown mask stalks awkwardly behind them. I mean that still happens a lot, but there is an overall improvement to the editing and cuts.  Aside from the slight technical advances, the film is a lot more of the same for the series. This includes terrible dialogue, ambitious (but frugal) gore, random breaks for amateur nudity and all with a low rent, half-assed, Friday the 13th feel. The higher quality camera is a double-edged sword, helping a ton with the lighting but also bringing out the film’s various blemishes as well. There are some nice kills for the budget, including a dislocated eyeball, but others are completely ruined by the strange choice of camera angles. That goes double for the blatant fact that they are not actually in what would traditionally be called “the woods”, which might have been hidden a little better with some strategic framing. There are a few scenes where the boom mic makes a cameo-- even damn near takes center stage at one point. My biggest beef would be with the new mask the killer wears. It made Mr. Clown guy look like he was constantly shrugging and might tip over at any moment. The lopsided, rubber head looks like someone painted a misshapen Gilbert Godfrey mask in bright patriotic colors. It's more a spirited horror flick, than an effective one and barebones as it gets, but it all works in its own way, if you know what you are getting into. Honestly, having gripes about the technical quality of this kind of movie is like demanding modesty in a strip club-- you knew what you were in for when you paid the cover.
 The film wallows in the cheese and the shamelessly stolen elements it lays out proudly, some of which, by this point, have become bastard calling cards for the series. It's what I would mean if I ever uttered that overused saying  “it's so bad it's good” but  I fucking hate saying that, so I won't, and people that do are usually referring to something with sharks on the SciFi channel. Many things are so bad they're good, Camp Blood is shitty horror incarnate with all the warts, bruises and dead air that this kind of story can have. It has frugally sourced parts, Frankenstein-stitched together and powered by pure spirit. It is somehow wholesome in its confused, shoestring admiration and simplified, raw replication of its influences. Movies such as this are like the horror equivalent to backyard wrestling, built on the bloody backs of determined fans of the genre with little to no budget or resources. The plot to this entry in the series actually seems to make a little more sense (then the first two) and fills in the canon with several (albeit useless) details. It feels like it's in on the joke for some of the sillier moments but never loses its authentic shitty b-movie feel. There is plenty to laugh at throughout its duration, but the film intent is more tribute than parody. Its dialog and exposition is filled with determined foreshadowing and stabs at character development. Most of it never amounts to anything worthwhile, but it's a pretty hefty step up from the long moments of camera hiss and goofy exclamations called human communication found in the first two. There are no IT references if the clown had you worried. The dude in the mask doesn't so much as giggle or crack a joke.  Largely influenced by the F13 series (hence the Camp Blood title) it stays in that ballpark, and out of all its callbacks, I can't think of one that screamed Pennywise or any other killer clown (unlike 2017s sequel that uses the Asylum-esque name “It Kills” and a party balloon themed subplot).  Like its title (Within The Woods was the original Evil Dead short film) the film’s story, dialog and kills are all borrowed elements. If anything can be said about the writing with confidence, it would be that it is well versed in the camp slasher sub-genre. It's pretty much all dude-in-a-mask killer cliches and tropes you have seen before, just this time with almost no budget.
 There are those classic, well made, almost flawless pieces of film in the world and then far, far away, on the other end of the spectrum, there are the movies like Within the Woods (2005). In some cases, and depending on my mood, they both can have their night at my house. Make no mistake, it is a truly bad movie and probably not one for the homie that brags about making it all the way through Sharknado or whatever else Tara Reid is in these days. Just like camping, it's the kind of thing to be enjoyed with the right crowd. On the other hand, you could just surprise that unsuspecting friend (or friends) with it on movie night and see if they can hang, it works for drunk camping (sometimes). Real life camping can be fun, whether it's the drunk kind or the old-dad type. I'm sure Murder-Camping can be pretty nifty too, with all the fucking and other gratuitous hedonism that goes down in the beginning...before all the killing and running stuff.
1h 25min | 2005
Director: Brad Sykes
Writer: Brad Sykes 


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