Body Count (1987)
By: Dr. Obrero on April 15, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Magna Pacific (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 83 minutes
The Movie
Director: Ruggero Deodato
Starring: Bruce Penhall, Mimsy Farmer, David Hess, Charles Napier
Screenplay: Alessandro Capone (also story), Luca D'Alisera, Sheila Goldberg, Dardano Sacchetti (as David Parker Jr.)
Music: Claudio Simonetti
Country: Italy
Tagline: The woods are alive with the sound of screaming
AKA: Camping del Terrore; The Eleventh Commandment
The woods are alive with the sound of screaming. Apparently… and the audience is alive with the sound of snoring. I remember seeing Body Count back at the time of its release, and quite enjoying it, thus I volunteered to review it. Problem is, as one gets older, tastes change, perhaps become more sophisticated… Ruggero Deodato, Cannibal Holocaust. 'nuff said, or so it should be – however, behind that landmark picture, there's a much greater oeuvre from this Italian helmer, a varied and mostly inept cannon, and the more one sees, the more it undermines his shot at being a legend of genre cinema. Not that most of the unadulterated garbage he's excreted before and after his career highlight will ever see the light of a projector. By the late 80's, the stalk 'n' slash 'n' dash was already passé – the boom dying on its feet as audiences tired of the same old formulaic repetition, and whilst highlights of the form such as Maniac, Friday the 13th delivered in spades, and sometimes gave the added value of more than just special effects to consider, most merely offered moronic teenagers killed in unimaginative ways, often in the creepy woods. Which brings us nicely to Camping del Terrore, aka Body Count.

Story opens with a brat named Ben witnessing the murder of a boy and his girlfriend in woods near Colorado, close to the disused camp ground where Ben and his parents live. Seems an old Indian shaman is wandering aimlessly about the woods, livening up his generally sour mood with the occasional shish-kebabbing of unwary interlopers. Years later, Benny returns as a grown up looking like Clark Kent and behaving like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre's hitch-hiker… subtle, eh? Anyhow, Benjamin grabs a ride with the most ridiculous, pathetic collection of 30-year-old teenagers I've ever seen in a movie, and when they all roll up home, genius seems surprised when mom and pop (Ms. Farmer and Hess) don't seem very happy about junior's new friends. Hell, I'm with mom and pop on this one! Seems there are issues, Benny's mom is having an affair with the local Sheriff (Charles Napier) and pop's about as much fun to be around as a Kodiak bear with a hangover, and before you can say clichéd plot the body count begins again. For what it's worth, I was solidly behind the killer – the best thing for this mob of annoying teenagers is death. Is it the shaman? Is it hell? Anyone with a brain will have figured it out inside 5-minutes.

Camping del terrore is dire, there's cheesy, there's bad, there's dismal… and then there's this. Watching this mixed cast of American and Italian actors and actresses go through their clichéd paces is akin to having teeth pulled. Deodato's painfully obvious attempt to make a commercial movie aimed at the US market has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the groin and all the skill of a 3-year-old brain surgeon, in short, dreadful. The dubbing is atrocious - often funny (one of the few elements that lift the tedium), the script is witless, the acting clueless, Deodato's direction strictly by numbers and the whole thing looks like it's been shot through an expresso coffee. I've taken clearer pictures at the bottom of the ocean than the cameraman manages here, the not-so-special effects are distinctly questionable, the score is soporific and the supposedly Colorado setting looks like anything but. Pathetic.
The disc from Magna Pacific is an atrocious affair. Clearly taken from an old videocassette master, the full screen is abysmal, shot through with grain, plagued by speckling and shows some evidence of print damage - the image is as far from being immaculate as you could imagine, and is a disgrace to the DVD format.
The audio presents the listener with a thin, somewhat indistinct 2.0 mono aural track, and is eminently forgettable.
Extra Features
Magna Pacific have really gone to town in the supplementals department - they give us scene selection. Wow.
The Verdict
Verdict? Send the movie down for 3-5 for insulting the viewer's intelligence and patience, and send Magna Pacific to the electric chair for releasing such a dire disc.
Movie Score
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