Student lovers John (Jon McBride) and Carrie (Carrie Lindell) plan a weekend camping trip in the woods near the remote town of Redston, along with another couple - Chris (Christopher Granger) and Amy (Amy Chludzinski).

John's friend Ray (Ray Angelic) warns him that a family went missing under mysterious circumstances at Redston a short while ago. John's unperturbed and sets off on his vacation. Which is unfortunate, because while Ray's story was part of an elaborate hoax, it ironically could have scared the four youngsters into avoiding a whole heap of trouble ...

Trouble which starts when they run into a couple of hillbilly brothers who threaten to kill the boys and fuck their girlfriends. John manages to curb any nastiness by driving away as it all kicks off - but the quartet are shaken by the altercation and begin camping gingerly, ever aware that they may run into the brothers again at some point.

What they don't realise for some time is that the brothers are joined by a third sibling - a mutant given to permanently wearing a motorcycle helmet to hide his ugliness - and are watching the campers from within the surroundings trees.

The three maniacs discuss their last conquest - shown to us in black-and-white flashback: a woman is tied to a tree, humiliated, and almost raped before fleeing. She doesn't get far though before they catch her up and her life in gory style.

The brothers, it transpires, are cannibals who have lived in the woods and preyed on people ever since their deranged mother preached to them about the evils of preservatives and additives in junk food. Now, as they watch John and company, it's only a matter of time till they find their stride and pounce ...

CANNIBAL CAMPOUT is an ultra-cheap shot-on-video production from 1988. As with all movies shot on a camcorder during this period, it looks pretty amateurish at times. All lighting is naturally sourced, so it helps that the film is set almost exclusively during the daytime. The handheld camera moves fluidly, and the editing is surprisingly sharp - but nothing can rob CAMPOUT of that distinctively no-budget video look.

The score, by Granger, is sometimes very effective indeed. Especially during the film's darker scenes. In the more lucid moments though, it resorts time and again to a horrid piano-led dirge that soon starts to grate.

The acting is generally good, considering the lack of experience from all concerned. Everyone plays their roles in suitably deadpan fashion - which aides McBride's knowingly derivative premise greatly. The cannibals are played with demented enthusiasm - with top honours going to the goggle-eyed Richard Marcus. It helps that he gets all the best lines, with some deliciously obscene dialogue from scriptwriter John Rayl.

At times the wacky humour (bad gags, asides to camera etc) seem at loggerheads with the film's finale which degenerates largely into mean-spirited nastiness and cheap gore. But at the end of the day this is a backyard production from a novice filmmaker who, in his own words, simply wanted to "prove you could just go out and do it yourself".

This was never intended as high art. It's trashy, gory and sleazy. It revels in misogynistic dialogue and scenes of DIY abortion. But it's fast-paced, and just about quirky enough to hold the viewer's interest. It also came across as a bizarre marriage between DON'T GO IN THE WOODS ... ALONE! and MOTHER'S DAY ...

The disc offers a solid presentation of the uncut film in it's original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Images are clear and bright, with minimal colour saturation. The video source is not perfect and as a result some image clarity dips are present, but it's generally a decent job. The mono audio is similar - mostly loud and clear, with occasional background hiss that proves to be not too distracting.

It's the extra features that surprised me. The fact that there was any, for a start!

First up is an interesting commentary track. Mark Polonia (a no-budget filmmaker of dubious standing) interviews McBride over a telephone line - really - and, against the odds, it works. McBride is not only proud of his film but has excellent recollections of the shoot, so there's some good stuff to be heard here.

A 33-minute documentary looking back at the making of the film offers new onscreen musing from many of the cast members, as well as a pensive McBride.

The Vladimirs turn up to introduce a promo video for their song "Cannibal Campout", which is actually a montage of the film's gorier moments.

Some gory outtakes have been retrieved and are spewed up here for our further delectation.

The disc rounds things up with a decent stills gallery of on-set photos and trailers for CAMPOUT, WOODCHIPPER MASSACRE, GHOUL SCHOOL, and VIDEO VIOLENCE PARTS 1 and 2.

There's also a nice 4-page booklet with interesting if slightly self-congratulatory liner notes from McBride.

Some will no doubt hate this film's inert cheapness. But there's a certain charm to a no-budget gore flick that goes for the bad taste angle with gusto. I found it all curiously enjoyable. And the disc has serviced this film extremely well.

Review by Stu Willis

Released by Camp Motion Pictures
Region 1 NTSC
Not Rated
Extras : see main review