VALLEY OF DEATH - UK video cover
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2  stars   
"A forgotten evil that will never die."

directed by: Robert C. Hughes
starring: William Smith, Cameron Mitchell, John Kerry, Lesa Lee, George E. Mahlberg, Mark Mears

(back of video blurb):

"Deep in the heart of Memorial Valley lies a forgotten evil ... a primitive man who brings death to those that cross his path. Driven by his animal instincts he thrives on the stench of human fear, tracking down his victims to satisfy his unquenchable lust for blood ...

For the unsuspecting campers on their annual pilgrimage to Memorial Valley, a weekends relaxation is about to explode into a bloodbath of terror. With only each other for protection, the campers will somehow have to find a way to stay alive, because someone, something has them in its sights ..."

choice dialogue:

"You know, I've heard stories about this valley. I never paid any attention to them, but now ..."

- a camper hears the terrifying opening bars to the Shoop Shoop song in the distance.

slash with panache?
[review by Justin Kerswell]

They don't do campsite massacres like they used to - more's the pity. I watched the not terrible - but terribly anemic - nouveaux slasher BLOODY MURDER the other day; removing much of the sex and violence from horror movies often makes for a hollow experience. VALLEY OF DEATH was made sometime after the early 80's hey-day - when Angela, Cropsy, Mrs Voorhees (and her boy) turned the wholesome golden sunshine of the All-American Summer camp into the long night under Blood Moon - but it still attempts to breathe some new life into the sub-sub-genre with a spectacularly daft twist on the theme.

Ca,eron Mitchell turns up to collect his pay cheque.

It opens with an outrageously unconvincing series of cut-away wildlife clips (the wildly differing hues of film clips is the main give-away - even THE PREY (1980) does it better, and that's really saying something!), inter cut with the cavalcade of campers rolling towards the eponymous valley and its new camp site, only to be met by a shut gate. Unbeknownst to them the campground's not finished - much to the annoyance of the raving owner - a scenery chewing Cameron Mitchell (top billed but whose appearance extends little further than turning up, grimacing at the camera, collecting his cheque and then hotfooting it out of there), who insists that the discovery of a dead dog in the water supply and the 'accidental' death of a workman earlier in the day shouldn't delay things and - working toilets or not - he orders his chief ranger to open the gates and usher in the gormless hordes.

The one's that can stand the idea of a weekend without the luxury of flushing away their effluence maneuver their monstrous mobile homes into the campground (accompanied by the kind of farting soundtrack you'd expect to find on an early 70's German nudie obscurity). However, this being a late 80's trash horror flick the happy campers are made up of the usual ragtag of potential victims: two be-mulleted young speed rockers and a wildly gyrating good-time girl named Wendy; a six-pack of bikers (three bandana'd greasers and their aging rock-chick wives); a retired military man and his torpedo breasted wife; a comedy white trash couple and their lardy klepto son; a resourceful, independent blonde woman (final girl material I shouldn't wonder); the upstart son of the owner who's out to prove himself, despite the barely hidden contempt of the alcoholic ranger (who hides a dark secret); and the wide-eyed camp caretaker who is full of spooky stories. If ever a camp should have had a t-shirt that said "Kill me quick!" it should have been this one.

Go Wendy, go!

As you'd imagine the first half of the film is jam-packed full off the kind of character building you get in late 80's slasher flicks: comedy pratfalls; beer drinking bonanzas, bonking and SCOOBY DOO theatrics. Tossed into this mix is the movie's mad slasher - but, this ain't no commonall garden slasher, no, in an effort (at least I presume some effort went into it) by the film's makers (who made the earlier DELIVERANCE/JUST BEFORE DAWN inspired slasher, HUNTER'S BLOOD, in 1987) this mad murderer is quite unique in the annals of slasherdom. ... Stalking the campground is a teen version of the wild man of Borneo - complete with Austin Power's teeth; fur jerkin and a Cher fright wig! In a misguided effort to engender the audience's sympathy with the 'monster' (ala Frankenstein's, I presume) we see his puppy dog eyes as he watches the trailer trash people trample and dance enthusiastically (especially Wendy) over his virgin homeland - the final straw being the fat kid, in obscenely tight-fitting shorts (who Wendy surmises is "... probably out in the woods humping Bambi!"), doing wheelies on his three wheel dune buggy through the glades. Despite being a nice boy really (he even plays with the squeaking mice in the cave he calls home), enough is enough and he eventually snaps, embarking on a rampage of (not very explicit) murder and bad Tarzan impressions ...

Do you believe in life afer love?

VALLEY OF DEATH is a moderately entertaining slice of slash trash. It is steeped in the same knowing campery as, say, CHOPPING MALL or KILLER PARTY (both 1986) - where the genre was already wildly self-referencing itself long before SCREAM (1996) burst onto the scene - but, like those mentioned, just stops short of going totally post-modern on you. It romps, content to bask in its confirmed B-movie (read straight-to-video) status. There's enough, bad hair, fashion and music here, though, to convince yourself you're in 80's heaven (or hell). It delivers handsomely on the cheese (it's main aim I'm sure), and is certainly trashibly enjoyable throughout, but if you're after a few solid chills then steer clear: the killer's "Oooga Booga" getup and primitive histrionics may result in sympathy (or, more likely, hilarity), but certainly never anything approaching fear. Although there was one small frisson, when I could swear the killer was about to break into a rendition of If I Could Turn Back Time - now, that would have been terrifying!


BODYCOUNT 15  bodycount!   female:5 / male:10

       1) Male has neck snapped
       2) Male whacked in chest with axe 
       3) Male impaled on spikes     
       4) Male run through with spear
       5) Male stabbed in the chest with knife
       6) Female blown up
       7) Male blown up
       8) Male shot with gun
       9) Female has spine snapped 
     10) Female has hair pulled (!)     
     11) Male burnt to death
     12) Male crushed under truck
     13) Female crushed under truck
     14) Female crushed under truck
     15) Male impaled on booby trap