Review

Shaun vs. Bodycount (1986)

A group of teens stay at an old campground and get killed off one by one by a creature in the night.  Sounds familiar?  Maybe an Italian twist on it can make it better?  Click below to find out!

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Judging a book by it’s cover

-“In the tradition of…” usually means “We’re ripping off…” 

-Is the killer a wrinkly old man with glowing eyes? The screaming girl in the reflection of the blade is always a must on the cover and I enjoy the tagline borrowing from “The Sound of Music” of all movies.  This better not be a musical.

-I always thought a Shaman was a Native medicine man or something similar to that, so reading about a half-man, half-beast creature called a “Shaman” is new to me.  

-The movie is set in Colorado but it’s an Italian production, should be interesting though with the setting in a campground so maybe it won’t matter.

-I’ve always wondered why stills of the movie are shown on the back if nothing is happening.  The middle picture at least has a dude screaming, but I can’t tell if there’s anything happening in the other two.  A shadowy figure and a girl just…looking in a direction?  Good thing I like that cover!

The Trailer

History

Directed by Ruggero Diadato (Cannibal Holocaust, House on the Edge of the Park)

Starring Charles Napier, David Hess, Bruce Penhall, Mimsy Farmer

Originally released in 1986, the film’s campground setting was starting to get worn out.  Friday the 13th and several sequels, The Burning, Sleepaway Camp, Don’t Go Into the Woods among others had already come and left their mark and notoriety in the summer camp slasher genre, for better or worse, so this movie really needs to do something different to stand out.

There were a couple of details that lead me to watching this movie.  First, I’ve seen and enjoyed quite a few Italian slashers (giallo) but they have their own distinct style and flair and this movie seems to be their take on American-style slashers.  Secondly, it’s an American-style slasher done by a director more well known for the cannibal movie, Cannibal Holocaust and The House at the Edge of the Park (which might as well be called Rape: The Movie because that’s all that happens in it.)  So a slasher is actually out of his element, I guess.  I was interested to see if there was anything new or interesting he could bring to the game.

Story

A group of “fun loving” teens grab an RV and drive around until they pick up a serviceman on the side of the road.  He tells them that his parents run an old campground they can stay at, since they apparently had nothing planned previously.  They love it until a crazy beast with a knife shows up to stab the hell out of them.  Hey, that would ruin anyone’s vacation.  What the hell is this thing and can it be stopped?

Was it good?

Delving deeper into the story, Ben, the serviceman, actually recommends they stay at the campground because it’s run by his parents. It just so happens that his father, Robert (Hess) is hunting a local legend knows as the Shaman.  Most people don’t believe it, but it’s a half-man, half-creature that kills during the night out in the woods.  I would probably just move away.  Ben’s father doesn’t want the hassle but the mother says it’s fine.  It’ll keep her husband occupied while she’s banging the town’s sheriff (played by the late, great Charles Napier) who’s been on Robert’s case for a long time.  So all the adults are jerks and it doesn’t take long to establish about half of the younger cast aren’t all terribly great people either.  It’s easy to pick out who might survive because they’re the few good people in the movie, jerks don’t usually survive.

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Sure enough, the Shaman strikes during the night (and next several days) to some bloody goodness.  He may look like a wrinkly old man with glowing eyes, but he’s pretty good with a sharp knife.  Easily the highlight of the movie are the many gruesome attacks by this silly creature.  I’m a little disappointed that all this “Shaman” stuff just led to a monster that stabs people, but the slashing part works well, especially with the Italian FX doing such a good job.  

The younger cast do their jobs but there’s a lot of ham and cheese on screen, especially with the bad dubbing jobs on the local cast.  The over-the-top acting matches the over-the-top violence, unfortunately the script doesn’t give them much to work with.  There are plenty of scenes with characters running and screaming with seemingly no direction until they are attacked by the Shaman.  

There is a wraparound story giving the script at least a little bit of meat for the veteran actors to work with, but even the ending is over-the-top with, I shit you not, a Scooby-Doo style ending that is actually a false finish and leads into a hilarious cap off to an admittedly entertaining 90 min.  

Review

Blood – 7

Boobs – 6

Story – 3

Overall – 5

Final Word

If you watch the uncut version, you get some pretty good gore scenes to watch.  We get a couple of topless scenes which is always appreciated, ladies.  The story is silly and pretty stupid, though it does provide for some laughs to make the movie watchable.  

 

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