Horror film parodies have always been a tough genre to traverse. When Mel Brooks brought us Young Frankenstein, he set a bar so high that the only direction the genre could go in was down. Sure, films like Shaun of the Dead, Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil, and arguably the Saturday the 14th films have made a decent go at it, but there have been countless films like the Scary Movie sequels, Dracula: Dead and Loving It, and Stan Helsing that didn’t even bother to try.
One problem is that most horror parodies trade a real storyline for a barrage of visual jokes and one-liners that stunt the development of a linear plot rather than play off of it, making the film more of a sketch comedy anthology based on horror films than a true horror comedy. Another problem is that most horror fans do not take kindly to jokes about their beloved genre and comedy lovers usually don’t care for the blood and guts that horror parodies generally feature. This usually leaves a very small audience for horror parodies.
But there is a positive for horror parody filmmakers claiming a small audience: they are free to have fun with their movies. They may not be making a great movie, but they are having a kickass time doing it. This is the case with Camp Death 3 in 2D!
Camp Death 3 in 2D! tells the story of Camp Crystal Meph (yes, we get it, but this is probably the worst joke in the film), a newly opened camp for the clinically deranged paying homage to Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. Unfortunately, the camp’s opening leads to the return of Johann Van Damme, a masked serial killer with a lust for murder and Momma’s homemade tree sap fudge. As the body count rises, so do the Friday the 13th franchise references until we learn who really is behind the mask… and the other mask… and what’s in the box.
The film has all the potential to be an entertaining entry into the horror parody film genre. We have some decently bloody and hilarious kills ( the weed-whacker scene for one), some ridiculous scenes such as toast attacks and accidental deaths that remind me of Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth, all bound by a plot that never gets lost no matter how the film’s clowning seems to try. While most of the humor is slapstick, the scenes that shine are the ones where the actors aren’t in on the joke that is their screen life, such as the scene where the wheelchair-bound Barry Brown thinks the killer’s mask is for sleep apnea and Officer Bert Gaybert obliviously drags Barry’s corpse around into a smoldering ruin while he blabbers on about his life.
And the cast looks like they are having a great time making Camp Death 3. Maybe too good a time. The first thing that the film does that handicaps itself is make liberal use of low frame rates to give itself a jerky feel. Just because Benny Hill featured the style doesn’t mean that anyone can pull it off, and Camp Death 3 does not. It only makes the acting seem worse than it is. Another issue is the problem of trying to stuff too many jokes into too short a time. It seems as if the film knows it has too many jokes to show, and decides to show these jokes so fast that you may miss them. Take the opening credits for example. We are given some great comedic twists as the credits flash through newspaper headlines. The problem is that I had to stop, rewind, and pause the film to be able to fully grasp them.
To Watch or Not to Watch
I would say watch, but only if you don’t take your horror too seriously, and you have a spot in your heart for the cringe humor of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. And it’s free on Amazon Prime, so you won’t feel like you threw away much money like I felt after Scary Movie 3.