When I met director Dave Campfield at a horror film
convention recently, I was impressed with his knowledge of and his appreciation
for the genre. Having made DARK CHAMBER, a tale of deception and
surveillance that is available on DVD which features Felissa Rose and Desiree
Gould, both of SLEEPAWAY CAMP fame, I had the opportunity to see his latest
effort, CAESAR AND OTTO'S SUMMER CAMP
MASSACRE, which is quite frankly one of the funniest horror film parodies
that I have seen thus far. Available on DVD
from Amazon.com, CAESAR AND OTTO'S SUMMER CAMP MASSACRE is everything that
the title says it is and contains hilarious performances from a talented cast
The film gives us Caesar (played in an engaging performance by director
Campfield), a crazy wannabe tough guy and Otto (Paul Chomicki), his half
brother who is a bit of a dope but not a bad guy. After a series of
misadventures they find themselves in a summer camp and try out to be camp
counselors with other equally out-of-place wackos. Veteran actors Joe
Estevez, Brinke Stevens, and Felissa Rose star, and just about every scene in
the film has a joke or funny reference to other horror films. I found
myself laughing out loud on many occasions, and highly recommend the film for
There is plenty of blood to go around in addition to the
jokes and a wealth of extras to boot:
Commentary with Director Dave Campfield, and co-story writer Brendan Smith
Commentary with costars Paul Chomicki, Ken Macfarlane, Summer Ferguson, Avi
Garg, and FX artists Rich Calderon
Commentary with Director Dave Campfield, co-star Deron Miller and Brain Bonelli
Behind the Massacre (14 minutes)
25 Minutes with Joe Estevez (exclusive interview)
Alternate and Deleted Scenes (4 minutes)
"Caesar and Otto's Deadly Xmas" preview
4 Easter Eggs
Bonus short film: "Caesar and Otto Meet Dracula's Lawyer" (16 minutes)
I spoke recently with director
Campfield, who was a lot of fun to talk to about his film and love of the
Stryker: Where were your born and raised?
Campfield: I come from central Long Island. And yeah, I was pretty much
considered an outcast right from the beginning. When other kids were out
playing sports, I spent my time indoors writing fiction...badly(Laughs)
I kept fantasizing about different movies I could shoot on Super-8 film, plays
I could perform, or even self-made amusement parks I could entertain the locals
Stryker: And when did your love of horror begin?
Campfield: It started with my first trip to a haunted house when I was six
years-old.It was across town at the
local church's bazaar. I was terrified and couldn't even make it through, but I
loved every second of it!Similarly,
when I saw a gutted version of THE SHINING playing on television, I was
simultaneously repulsed and compelled. Guess I've always been attracted to the
Going to the movies as a young child
was such a life-altering experience for me. It started with a rerelease of STAR
WARS, which could be said for a lot of filmmakers. I was just so enamored with
the whole moviegoing experience that I knew even from an early age that this
was what I wanted to pursue, come hell or high water.
Stryker: Why do you think STAR WARS had such an impact?
Campfield:I think it has to do with the
overall spectacle of the film, being able to identify with the hopeful lead
character.STAR WARS consists of so many
different ideas woven into this one very accessible space opera.The music plays a big part in that as
well.It's very operatic and
spectacular.For anyone who has a love
of all of those different components, the film really resonates for them.
Stryker: Would you say that the film was a visceral experience for you?
Campfield:Absolutely.Sure, action films are faster paced today,
but STAR WARS had action and
intensity, which was there not just due to the presence of action, but also
because of the audiences' complete involvement in the story.
Stryker: STAR WARS was a pivotal film for myself as well, and it was also the
first movie that I went back to see more than once.By the time I left the movie theater after
having seen it the first time, I was convinced that I was Han Solo.Did you have a similar experience?
Campfield: Well, I was obviously too young to get to the theater on my own, but
I just begged at every opportunity to go back and see this movie!I think that most of us really identify with
Luke Skywalker but aspire to be Han Solo.
Stryker: Oh absolutely.There are a lot
of people out there who go to see a movie and to them it's just a little slice
of entertainment.For people like you
and myself, the film is much more than that.
Campfield: When I go see a movie, I'll be digesting that film for days
afterwards, thinking about it from different perspectives.I'll be thinking about what I liked about it,
and when I didn't like about it, and what made it distinctive and
Stryker: Did you ever see any films when you were very young that really left a
deep impression on you and frightened you?
Campfield: Oh, yeah!The opening of the
lost ark sequence in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK was very frightening to me.That, of course, wasn't a horror film, but
was traumatic nonetheless.
Stryker:Where did you see the bulk of
the horror movies that you grew up watching?
Campfield: All the horror movies I saw, I watched when they were on network
television.They were complete with
commercial interruptions and were edited down for television.I didn't really get to see a horror movie in
a theater until SCREAM came out.
Stryker: I was the same way.In the
early 1980's, a VCR was very expensive, so I relied on television network
showings of BURNT OFFERINGS, THE EXORCIST, TOURIST TRAP, PSYCHO, etc.It really was the only way to see these
movies.Plus, even if we did have a VCR,
it would have been impossible to rent those films.My parents didn't want me watching this
Campfield:HALLOWEEN was a pivotal film
for me, even in its edited form. But as I revisit HALLOWEEN, it's almost like
revisiting Disney World as an adult, which is to say that things that I found
to be absolutely frightening as a child, when I look back on them from an adult
perspective they seem a little bit silly.Through an adult's eyes, you can see the strings holding up the
props.Without taking anything away from
the filmmakers, seeing those films as a child, there isn't anything more
frightening than that.
Stryker:In elementary school, there
were short films that our teachers used to show us that were truly
bizarre.One of them was called WINTER
OF THE WITCH, which was about a young boy and his mother moving into a
dilapidated mansion in the country.In
the attic lives a witch who has lived there for many, many years and teaches
them how to make the world's best blueberry pancakes.It's a crazy story, but even though it took
place in a spooky surrounding it was a favorite of mine.Did you ever see any children's movies that
you liked or that kind of freaked you out?
Campfield:Yes, there was a film about
tooth decay called THE HAUNTED MOUTH which you can see on Youtube.It was very frightening to me as a kid,
believe it or not.But hey, kids scare easily!
Stryker: In your pursuit of making movies, did you always want to make horror
Campfield:I wanted to make every type
of movie I could, with the exception of musicals.I was never a musical theater kind of guy;
that was never my strength.I mean, I'm
happy to watch one, but I've had no interest or passion about making one.
Stryker:Before you made the hilarious
comedy CAESAR AND OTTO'S CAMP MASSACRE, what movies did you make?What was the first movie that you made?
Campfield:Well, I started out doing
sketches on audiotapes when I was a kid.Comedy sketches and skits, and those were kind of a springboard into
movies.My first film was called HOLMES
AND WATSON'S FIRST CASE.Sherlock Holmes
is thirteen years-old.It's much more in
the Caesar and Otto vein and was shot entirely in my basement, on my brother's
friend's camcorder.The basic plot
concerns Sherlock Holmes unable to pay the rent in a boiler room.At a certain point in the movie, the film
starts to break down and lose its cohesiveness.When I finally got the money to buy a camcorder, though, there was no
stopping me in my pursuit of making films.When I was growing up, I didn't have a lot of friends.So I generally star in the movies and play
multiple characters in the same films.When other guys were going out on Friday nights getting drunk in parking
lots, I was at home making these crazy movies.
After that, I tried to get a
full-length film off the ground.I was
in college in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I found myself unable to focus on what
I had to do.I had written a script that
managed to catch the attention of some Hollywood agents, and I even had a
meeting with New Line Cinema right after dropping out of college.And we went back and forth, and I spent two
or three years working on the script as it remained in limbo. Instead, I
decided to make another, smaller scale script that I had written.I raised some local funding from my job, and
people I knew, and that was how DARK CHAMBER came to be.DARK CHAMBER began under the title of UNDER
SURVEILLANCE, and we started shooting in 2002 and wrapped four years later.
There were so many starts and stops to the film, but I was dedicated to making
the film I set out to shoot.Ironically,
if I had shot the movie just a year or two later, I would've have access to
much better cameras due to emerging HD technologies.But, let's just call it a learning
Stryker:How did you come to cast
Felissa Rose in this film?
Campfield: I actually had not seen SLEEPAWAY CAMP at the time that I made this
movie.So, Felissa was a complete
unknown to me.I met her on the set of a
commercial that we were both casting on, and she was very nice.So, I told her about a low-budget independent
film I was making and she told me that I should give her the opportunity to be
in it.So, I started doing research on
her and read about her role in SLEEPAWAY CAMP.Since then, we've developed a very good friendship and working
relationship.Meet her led to meeting
other actors such as Desiree Gould who appears in DARK CHAMBER.
Stryker:What did making this film as a
feature-length project teach you about filmmaking?
Campfield: It taught me how to be more efficient, and how to make a movie for
less money.DARK CHAMBER cost roughly
$30,000 to make, but I probably could've done it for $11,000.00 or
$12,000.00.When we went on to do the
Caesar and Otto films, they were done for a fraction of the cost.Of course, the key to making movies like this
is to make them for as little money as possible in the hopes of at least making
your budget back while you're trying to find your audience.
Stryker:Where did you get the idea to
make the Caesar and Otto films?When I
saw the first film in the series, I found myself laughing out loud.It really is hilarious.
Campfield: The Caesar and Otto films are inspired by the types of movies that I
used to make in high school.My friend
and I would experiment with different characters and if it worked, great.If it didn't, we didn't use it.And from these sessions, the Caesar and Otto
characters basically emerged.I like the
way that these characters interact with each other.And so, we made a $700.00 production that
had no hope of going anywhere because it had no stars in it, no production
values. But when producer Michael Raso, the producer and distributor behind DARK
CHAMBER, asked me if I had any other ideas for a comedy/horror movie, I hatched
the idea to turn Caesar and Otto into a series of horror-comedy hybrids just
like they used to do with Abbott and Costello.It would be a fun throwback to that kind of film.I
Stryker: Well, I found it to be a lot funnier than the SCARY MOVIE series.Our readers can order this from
Amazon.com.I would strongly recommend
that they pick it up.Really funny as
all hell! I can't wait for your take on Christmas.
Campfield: Thank you!Glad you enjoyed
CAESAR AND OTTO'S SUMMER CAMP MASSACRE
Tomorrow brings the release of SCREAM 4 on Blu-ray and DVD and director Wes Craven has been making the press rounds to help get the word out. My good buddy and sometime contributor Patrick Desmond was kind enough to pick up the reins and talk with Mr. Craven when I was unable to handle it myself and I've gotta say, he's hit it out of the park.
Patrick asks some great questions and gets some really interesting responses from Mr. Craven and I'm thinking you're going to want to hear my the horror legend has to say. CLICK HERE and check out the interview.
Don't forget to head out and pick up SCREAM 4 tomorrow. I watched it the other night and I've gotta say, it was damn good. I was really surprised how edgy and violent Craven went on this one. My full review of the disc is coming shortly but needless to say, I think you're gonna like what they have come up with.
in Carthage, NY in 1948 and raised in Bowling Green, Kentucky, film director John
Carpenter started his career as a teenager by shooting 8mm films with his
father's movie camera. In 1968 his lifelong love of film landed him at University
of Southern California in Los Angeles where he met fellow filmmakers Dan
O'Bannon (writer of ALIEN, BLUE THUNDER and LIFEFORCE) and Nick Castle
(director of THE LAST STARFIGHTER). After co-writing, co-directing and editing
the Oscar-winning Best Live-Action Short Subject THE RESURRECTION OF BRONCO
BILLY, he made his thesis project, a 45-minute science fiction parody of 2001:
A SPACE ODYSSEY called DARK STAR with O'Bannon, which was expanded to
feature-length and given a theatrical release. His second film, the cult hit ASSAULT
ON PRECINCT 13, was shot in 20 days on a budget of less than $125,000 and
boasted a brilliant and sinister minimalist score by the director. It succeeded in Europe and secured him THE
BABYSITTER MURDERS, an idea suggested to him by film producer Irwin Yablans who
was impressed with PRECINCT 13. Setting the story on Halloween night and creating
a mystique about the film's murderer, Michael Myers, proved pivotal to
HALLOWEEN's box office success.The film
spawned one of the most lucrative franchises in cinema history while
effectively securing Mr. Carpenter a two-picture deal with AVCO-Embassy Films,
out of which came THE FOG and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, both of which also boasted
original scores by Mr. Carpenter.
Morricone, Jack Nitzsche and Shirley Walker took over scoring duties on THE
THING, STARMAN and MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN respectively, but Mr. Carpenter
took back the reins on CHRISTINE, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, PRINCE OF
DARKNESS, THEY LIVE, BODY BAGS, IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED,
ESCAPE FROM LA, VAMPIRES, and GHOSTS OF MARS.Unfortunately, he no longer scores his own films, as it is too time
consuming and too much work.
the exception of DARK STAR, his TV-movies HIGH RISE and ELVIS: THE MOVIE
(incredibly, Elvis Presley plays "Dr. John Carpenter" in the 1969
movie CHANGE OF HABIT), and his additional television work, Mr. Carpenter has
photographed all of his films in the anamorphic 2.35:1 aspect ratio, which
yields a wider, panoramic image on the movie screen, something retained for the
DVD releases of his films.
spoke to Mr. Carpenter regarding his career and his new film, THE WARD, which
was filmed in 2009 in the Des Moines, Medical Lake, Cheney, and Spokane areas
of Washington State and which is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Stryker: You made several short films on 8mm when you were a teenager, with
titles as diverse as REVENGE OF THE COLOSSAL BEASTS, TERROR FROM SPACE, GORGO
VS. GODZILLA, GORGON THE SPACE MONSTER, WARRIOR AND THE DEMON, and SORCEROR
FROM OUTER SPACE.Will audiences ever
get a chance to see these films?
Carpenter: Never, never, ever.
Stryker: Really?Not even as a
supplement on a DVD?
Carpenter: Because they're shit.
Stryker: (Laughs and mockingly pleads) Not even your die-hard fans who are
curious and really would love to see them?
Carpenter: I don't care how curious you are.You can be curious.You can be
curious about seeing me naked, but you're not going to.There are some things I will not do, and I
will not show those films.
Stryker: What did making those short films teach you about filmmaking?
Carpenter: My dad had an 8mm movie camera, and he gave it to me as he got
bored.He wanted to do stills.So, I had an 8mm movie camera, I had a
splicer with splicing cement so I could cut them together, and I had a
titler.What I used to do when I started
was called in-camera editing.So, I
would have an actor run up and look, and I would shoot what he saw, then stop
the camera and then shoot his reaction.
Stryker: All done in-camera.
Carpenter: Right.And then one day it
suddenly occurred to me that what I could do, I could shoot the actor and let
him do all his acting, and then at another time and even in another location, I
could shoot what he's looking at.So, I
discovered the essence of filmmaking, the basic cut, from one thing to another.It's the simplest thing, and everyone takes
it for granted nowadays, but nobody taught me that.
Stryker: What is your favorite film of the ones you have directed?
Carpenter: I don't have any personal favorites.I have ones that I like more than others, that I think are more successful
than others, dramatically speaking.I
think THE THING is pretty successful dramatically.But, no, they're all my favorites.
Stryker: Do you watch your films?
Carpenter: No, I never want to see them again.
Stryker: When you see your films, are you able to get lost in the story?
Carpenter: I look at them from an audience point-of-view when I watch my own
films and see how they're pacing out, if they're going to carry an audience or
not.It's changed over the years.It's gotten faster and faster so you can get
more and more information going.But no,
I don't get lost in them.
Stryker: Do you storyboard?
Carpenter: Not so much anymore.I used
to, but when you're doing an effects movie you have to draw them out so that
everyone can talk about what the shot is.So, you storyboard the effects sequence to see this angle, or that
angle.I started doing my own
storyboards on ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, then after that ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK we
Stryker: You've written some terrific scores for your films.I remember loving the HALLOWEEN theme the
first time I heard it.Does the music
come to you while you're shooting, or during post-production?
Carpenter: It comes to me as I'm composing.I improvise it all.It's all done
after the movie's shot.I wouldn't think
about it.I'm there to support what I
see on the screen.I can't do it
anymore, though.It's too much work.I've given up the music.Now, all these genius, young composers can do
it better than I can.
Stryker: How would you compare making films in the 2010's to the 1970's when
you started your career?
Carpenter: Filmmaking has not changed at all, essentially.You have a crew of people, you have the
actors, and you're on a location or on a set, interior or exterior, night or
day.You come in, get a rehearsal,
rehearse for the camera, set the camera where it's going to be, light it, shoot
it, then shoot the reverses - all that's pretty much the same, and that process
has not changed.Everything around it
has.The technology - the editing
process - has changed enormously with computers.The business aspect of it - the commerce -
has changed enormously.The essence of
it hasn't.Actors need to know their
lines and come in and be ready to go, and of course, most of them don't.They want to change everything, and that's
gotten worse.It's unbelievable.They don't want to say what they've agreed
to; they want to say something different.
Stryker: Do they look to change the dialog?
Carpenter: They re-write the scenes, sometimes incoherently.Younger actors expect to sit with the
director in the editing room.They expect
it.They expect to dictate certain
cuts.It's up to the director and it
depends upon how you handle it.It has
to be dealt with.I've never shown
dailies to actors.But, apparently it's
a brand new world.It's really
shocking.You have people who are not
particularly big stars but they want their own pass at the editing
process.Now, I personally have never
experienced that much before, but I have sat down with an actor, and they say, "I
don't like that in the scene, can we see what else you have?"It's unbelievable.
Stryker: Your films have some very memorable and atmospheric poster artwork.How involved are you in the conception
Carpenter: (Holds thumb and forefinger together and peers through circle with
one eye) Zero!Zero.They used to bring me in and have me look at
a bunch of posters: "Oh, look at that one!That one looks interesting." But, not anymore, now they just say,
Stryker: The posters are all made on computer now?
Carpenter: I have no clue.The first
poster that they came up with for THE FOG was one I didn't like.I said, "Can we do better than
Stryker: Your films have very stylish openings: the use of the pumpkin in
HALLOWEEN, the credits slowly playing through the opening of THE FOG and
through the first ten minutes of PRINCE OF DARKNESS, etc.How do these sequences come about?
Carpenter: Instinct.For the pumpkin [in
the opening to HALLOWEEN], we did that because it was cheap, and we shot that
the same day that we shot the interior of the car with Donald Pleasance.It was all necessity.
Jonathan Stryker: THE THING is rightly
considered to be one of the best horror films of all-time.Why do you feel that it was so poorly
received at the time it was released?
Carpenter: Hated by the fans.Hated.It was a depressing film with an uncertain
ending in the middle of a depression [in 1982] when it came out two weeks after
E.T.I don't think it was a summer
movie.I think they should have put it
out in the fall.And the fans hated,
hated, hated it. They had thought that I
had raped a national treasure when comparing it to the original."Look at how he soiled the nest!"I'm serious.
Stryker: Are you amazed by the turn-around people have made on this film?
Carpenter: I haven't experienced a complete turn-around, all I know is there
are a lot of people who like it now.
Stryker: What movies have you seen that, the first time you saw them you didn't
like them, but upon seeing them again you really liked them?
Carpenter: Oh, that's interesting.The
first movie I saw like that was TAXI DRIVER.I remember thinking, I don't know about this film.Then I saw it again, and experienced it
differently.I remember THE
SHINING.I thought, This is a piece of
trash.Then I saw it again and thought, Oh,
it's funny! How funny Jack Nicholson is.There are a lot of movies like that, and
there were some that I was harsher on when I was younger.When you're younger, you're very pretentious
and very serious.Now I see them again
and I think, Wow, that's pretty damned good!
What's wrong with me?
Stryker: What film of yours is closest to your original vision?
Carpenter: Probably the films with the lowest budgets because there's no
opportunity for changing anything.They
have to be what you've written.HALLOWEEN was almost exactly what was written.
Stryker: What are your feelings about the Internet?
Carpenter: The Internet is very interesting.It's become a real tool in some ways, hasn't it?THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT - people got really
stirred up about it.The whole Internet
thing is fascinating to me.My son lives
in Japan and I email him.That was the
reason I started going online, it was to do email.I'm also a gamer, so I find all kinds of
video game cheats on there.Plus, I'm a
basketball addict, so I can look up the NBA and see what's going on.
Stryker: Your new film is THE WARD starring Amber Heard.What brought you back to directing a feature
after so many years?
Carpenter: Well, I hadn't directed a movie in a long time, except for the "Masters
of Horror" television stuff.The
script came along which was perfect because it was a lower-budget film that
took place in kind of a limited location.There were some really good acting parts in it.I thought that it would be fun to kind of put
my foot back in the water, just to check it out and see how I liked it.That was really the draw, you know?(pauses)It's hard making movies.It
is.You get to a certain age and it's
Stryker: I recall you talking about your first 24-hour shoot on ASSAULT ON
PRECINCT 13 and at the end of it you felt like you had been beaten up.
Carpenter: Oh, God, yeah.Twenty-four
hours.In a jail cell.Of course, they had real bars, and the
problem is you can't light it and frame it.You have to have bars that are wider.It was staggering.And then I did
this TV-movie, ELVIS, which was almost three hours, and we had thirty days to
shoot it, so we had to do an hour of film in ten days.I literally, in that movie - I remember the
dailies and Kurt Russell was playing Elvis in his triumphant return.When the film aired I just fell asleep - I
was just too tired.(chuckles)Nobody feels sorry for me.I can whine all I want - I love whining - and
nobody feels sorry for me!
Stryker: Well, thank you for whining for me!
Carpenter: (chuckles)Hey, man, thank
Earlier tonight I gave you a chat with the lovely Sara Paxton star of the this weekends big horror release SHARK NIGHT 3D and now I have none other than David R. Ellis, director extraordinaire. I'm a big fan of his work in the FINAL DESTINATION franchise and curious to see what he brings to the shark sub genre.
I'm sure it will be bloody, violent fun.
Here's Mr. Ellis talking about his film.
SHARK NIGHT 3D
So this weekend brings the release of the David R. Ellis directed shark opus SHARK NIGHT 3D. Got a slew of interviews with cast and crew that I'm going to be throwing at you over the course of the week and I'm kicking it off tonight with show star Sara Paxton who play Sara in the film talking about playing shark food.
SHARK NIGHT 3D
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