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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Camp Utopia
Camp Utopia
Other // R // May 17, 2005
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Scott Weinberg | posted May 22, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

When you find yourself thinking "Oh, come on! You guys aren't even trying!" during a movie, that's not exactly a good thing. But when you find yourself repeating that thought for 80 straight minutes, odds are you're dealing with some filmmakers more interested in a few quick bucks than they are interested in making a clever, exciting and/or somewhat unique horror movie.

And the filmmakers of Camp Utopia weren't even trying.

I assert this because I've seen practically every clone, retread, and ripoff of Halloween & Friday the 13th ever made. And this one's easily one of the most obvious, uninspired, and annoyingly beholden to the rather simplistic formula. Try this one on for size:

Five teenagers head into a wooded area in which, a few decades earlier, the loopy leader of a hippie cult went completely nutso and slaughtered several of his followers. (We learn this backstory by way of a goofy prologue and a campfire tale sequence a bit later.) So guess what happens. No, go ahead: guess.

Yep, the five idiot teenagers get slashed up but good. Heck, there's even a perverted park ranger who ends up on the receiving end of several pointy arrows. But the main problem with Camp Utopia (keeping in mind how difficult it was to come up with a "main" one) is how absolutely generic the thing is. Shot (three years ago) on video, the thing feels like something slapped together by a bunch of horror-addicted 15-year-olds. The kills are drab and silly; the dialogue is frequently laughable; and the acting performances, well, some of 'em are actually not-awful. (This came as a shock, although it did nothing to elevate my opinion of the film.)

Fans of the old-school hair-band known as "Ratt" will be thrilled to learn that lead singer Stephen Pearcy plays the psychotic hippie freak, which means that Camp Utopia is guaranteed to sell at least 8 to 14 copies. It's probably worth mentioning that of the five blithering dodos who wander into the woods, three are young ladies ... and two of those ladies do indeed get topless. (Boom. Camp Utopia's sales figures just raised to 18.)

What I found most outrageous about Camp Utopia is that there's no sense of irony or creativity. It's as if the filmmakers just watched the original Friday the 13th for the very first time and thought "Hey, we can make a movie just like this!" But the stalker-in-the-woods scenario has been beaten to death for the last twenty years, and it was my belief that the resoundingly self-referential Scream flicks had buried this sub-genre forever. You'd certainly need a conceit a lot more clever than what's offered in Camp Utopia to bring this overused concept back to life. Unless you're directly related to someone who worked on this dry and ditzy retread, I say skip the whole thing entirely.

It's not like Friday the 13th was all that brilliant to begin with.

The DVD

Video: A not-too-bad (considering the resources used) Fullscreen transfer is on display here. It looks better than your average "Handycam Horror" flick ... but not by much.

Audio: A mono track that includes all the background noise you'd expect to hear while filming a no-budget horror flick in the middle of the forest. The dialogue is clear enough, although I'll leave it to you to decide if that's such a good thing.

Extras: A seven-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that consists mainly of interview segments with two of the leading ladies, a stills gallery (that does make sure to include some bare breasts, natch), and a trio of trailers for other "Texas Trouble DVD" releases.

Final Thoughts

Once again we're venturing into "the DVD case is so much cooler than the actual movie" territory. Camp Utopia is nothing more than 85% interminable chit-chat, 12% unimpressive gore sequences, and 3% naked boobies. I cannot imagine the hardcore horror freak who could find something more enthusiastic to say about the flick.

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