Ah the 1980’s summer camp. For some of us reading this can bring up some great memories of campfires and ghost stories. It could also bring back memories of panty raids and shaving cream wars. It can bring up memories of lost love and stolen kisses at the summer dance. In Donald “Duck” Poultry’s case it’s none of the above. Not only is Donald somewhat of a social outcast (he’s an electrical genius going into seventh grade) he’s soon going to find himself caught up with the “cool kids” at the camp. Ya know the cool kids who kidnap the camp director and all of the counselors and decide to have a bloodless coup in order to take back not only their camp, but the girl’s camp as well….sounds like a fun summer!
Directed by: Bert L. Dragin
Starring: Chuck Conner, Adam Carl, Stuart Rogers, Tom Fridley
“Where did they get this guy Alcatraz?”
Oh man I remember this one from my childhood. Pretty sure Cinemax had this thing on repeat the summer of 1988 and I am sure there are a lot of you out there reading this now remember seeing it for the first time then. Though I have discovered in my years that most people don’t know this 80’s classic by its title…however if one were to start singing the “beef bologna” song from the films soundtrack you would find that quite a lot of people have seen this nugget of 80’s exploitation. I have in the past actually referred to this film as “that beef bologna movie?”
The premise of Summer Camp Nightmare is pretty simple to conceive. A group of young kids ranging from very young to teenagers are about to start their summer at Camp North Pines (this is the boys camp and where the story mainly takes place….the girls camp Camp South Pines is a little ways away). Immediately one of the counselors named Manuel starts singing a song about the camp and a great 80’s montage gets under way…..oh I hope you like 80’s montage’s cause there is quite a few in the film. There is also a one liner chucking and rapping heavy weight that will leave you shaking your head. Okay I thought this movie was better than this when I was a kid…..but the 80’s hold up in a way that no other decade could and this film is soaked in it from its hairstyles and short shorts to a Madonna wanna be performing at the camp talent show….this is the same segment where the beef bologna song also comes on.
The boys of the camp however soon learn that their summer is going to be cut short by an unruly tyrant of a camp director named Mr. Warren. Mr. Warren takes away the boys television leaving them only able to watch the religious channel, of course hijinks ensue and the boys get their glimpse of some naked flesh only to have it ripped away again. The camp is extremely under staffed and has allowed some of the older kids to act as Counselors in Training….or CIT’s for short.
The CIT’s for Camp North Pines include Stan Runk aka Runk the Punk, a kid whose attitude is definitely worse than his hairstyle. Tom Fridley (from Friday the 13th part 6 and The Karate Kid) also has a role as the CIT John.
The most interesting of the CIT’s however is Franklin. Franklin doesn’t swim in the lake and instead spends his time reading Thoreau and rescuing Donald who can’t swim. Franklin also crosses a dangerous and rotting rope bridge almost taunting death. He informs all of the other kids that society uses fear to control them and that once they could control fear they can control society….for real in 1988 my young mind thought this was epic.
Mr. Warren takes some of the younger campers, I mean really young, on a butterfly hunt. One of the boys comes back from the hunt with a story for Franklin that suggests that Mr. Warren might have something wrong with him. The whole event becomes a catalyst where eventually Franklin suggests they take over the camp themselves. The group kidnaps and holds hostage Mr. Warren and all of the other counselors and then proceeds to liberate the girls camp as well.
Of course the children go wild which leads to more wonderful 80’s montages and plenty of fooling around. Dragin’s film takes a dark twist near the end of this phase when the children suddenly find themselves behaving like wild savages.
There are times when the editing can be choppy and yes the acting can come across soaked in cheese but Summer Camp Nightmare is still enjoyable for the most part. It really is a great piece of nostalgic exploitation from the good old summer vacations in the late 1980’s. The characters are stereotypes, but again all of this leads to the films charm….definitely worth checking out…even if you are only ever able to find it at the bootleg table at horror cons.
Summer Camp Nightmare (1987)