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Friday, October 28, 2005

Sleepaway Camp

Last night at Fallout Lounge, I thought they put on the first Friday the 13th movie on the TV. There were shots of a camp and people boating in a lake and I was waiting for the two camp counselors to go off and do the unthinkable (have sex) while Jason Voorhees drowned. Well, turns out the movie wasn't Friday the 13th - it was a film I had never heard of called Sleepaway Camp. Folks, even with the sound turned off, I was cringing at how bad this flick looked and how much of a knockoff it was. However, I was compelled to see who the killer was (like how I'm curious to see who the villain is at the end of Scooby Doo episodes). I'm not giving away the ending, but the true craziness is that there are four sequels to Sleepaway Camp.

OK, I have understood all along that the movie business is a business, but what kind of industry (other than the mainstream music industry) truly believes that making god-awful knock-offs of bad knock-offs is a good thing? If the first Halloween film took cues from Psycho but made a truly scary and fresh interpretation of the horror genre, then Friday the 13th took cues from Halloween's "knock one or two off at a time" body count and essentially photocopied major cues from Psycho, then how can Sleepaway Camp take so much from Friday the 13th and claim any relevance? I know this isn't Shakespeare here, but as a fan of a good scare flick, I wonder how many splatter flicks were actually made in the early 1980s. I get the feeling there are more out there that I don't know about and they're even worse than Sleepaway Camp.

I used to think that being number one at the box office was a measure of the quality of the movie. If Doom was number one last week, then it's a good flick, right? Not a chance. However, I can already imagine the green lights being lit on other flicks based on video games (which now includes Halo and Postal, among others) and potential sequels. Why is such done? Because there is a belief that there is a marketplace worth shopping in or a mine worth mining to replicate the initial one's success. Don't movie studios learn anything by knock-offs, sequels and remakes? Sure, some money may be made upfront, but in the longterm (ie, when it goes to rental) what makes people think that a large viewing audience will want to watch these over and over again?

A lot of these knock-off flicks trickle down to newer audiences over the years. Some may never see the light of day of DVD but the one found on DVD like Sleepaway Camp is a grim reminder to me as to how low studios will go to earn a buck. The parallels to how low the mainstream music industry goes is even scarier.

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