A group of friends plan to party all weekend long on an unpopulated island. Too bad no one told them that there's actually a maniac wrapped in bandages who lives on the island with his deranged son. Oh, and he enjoys hacking up trespassers with a chainsaw too.
As much as Westerners and Hollywood enjoy borrowing from other movies from various countries, or simply remaking them when we think we can't get away with stealing the material. There are times when the tables are turned and we do the occasional inspiring. That's where "Shan Gou 1999", or "Deadly Camp", comes into play; Hong Kong's attempt at making an American slasher.
A group of friends get together and travel to an uninhabited island to party all weekend long and upon their arrival, everything appears to be going smoothly. The kids don't even mind when some unexpected guests show up on the island with the same plans in mind. The partying is put on hold when a strange man wrapped in bandages starts abducting the young women from the group and taking them to his home for his son. Now the two groups must ban together to save the girls and stop this unknown killer before they all fall victim to the madman's chainsaw.
Now "Deadly Camp" is a movie I've been wanting to see for awhile since Hong Kong has never had a problem making wild, sleazy and out of control horror movies. So I figured a Western slasher would be perfect for them -- especially when they have the killer running around with a chainsaw. And Bowie Lau matched not only the tone and camp of slasher movies, but managed to nail almost every cliché there is too. It could almost bring a tear to your eye watching it. He even goes so far as to give two of the male characters names that describe their archetype -- one being called Professor and the other being Soldier. I'm surprised one of the girls wasn't called Skank. And the plot of kids being stuck in an isolated location, a killer living in the woods with his demented family…that's amore! Our killer even strikes some Leatherface poses and occasionally throws in a chainsaw dance too.
The clichés is where the fun ends though. Sadly and much to my dismay, "Deadly Camp" holds a great deal back -- perhaps to appeal to younger kids and avoid the infamous Cat. III rating -- and never satisfies the carnage or sleaze factor. Outside of seeing a pair of legs getting sawn off and a very wide shot of a hacked torso, all the gory goodness occurs off screen or we simply get the shot of the actors face while they're being maimed and mutilated with a little bit of blood being splashed on their face.
What is this, amateur hour? C'mon Hong Kong, you gave us "The Untold Story" and "Dr. Lamb" so I know you can do better!
But they don't. Not with "Deadly Camp" anyway. Sure, it's fun watching a Hong Kong film produce a paint-by-numbers slasher with their own added flair, but the fun of watching these cliché moments occur in another country's movie is only satisfying for so long. Not to mention, what is a slasher if it doesn't have the two main ingredients that made the sub-genre famous? Because the movie skips out on not only the kills, but the perversion as well, we are only left with scenes of dialogue. Who wants to watch one-dimensional characters have conversations about things we really and truly do not give a shit about?
Oh, Ken wants to be a big track star, eh? Fascinating. Yes, truly fascinating! Except there's one small detail and that is…I. Do not. Care. (To give the movie credit, this actually ties in with ending. Too bad the ending is stupid. Hilarious, but completely stupid.) One of Boar's goons wants to have better luck with the ladies? You don't say? Funny thing about that is…I still don't care!
I understand not wanting to make something completely shallow, but c'mon, it's a slasher movie. If I'm 30 minutes into the movie and the only thing that has happened are pointless conversations, then there is something very wrong. So, suffice to say, "Deadly Camp" is not exactly a great movie to watch if you are wanting an entertaining entry into the slasher sub-genre. There are some fun moments and how many clichés Bowie Lau hits is a thing of beauty -- even having the one named actor in the movie, in this case, Anthony Wong -- but that only interesting for so long. Had "Deadly Camp" let loose and got in touch with the country's Category III roots, the movie could have been something amazing. As it is now, it's a dreadfully dull movie with some decent moments here and there.