Tales from the Campfire (2017)
Review by Fatal follower
Synopsis- Four friends plan a camping trip to spend an evening sitting around a campfire telling each other campfire stories that all supposedly happened within the area that they’re camping at. Strangely enough, their campground happens to sit right beside an old creepy cemetery, named ‘Ha Ha Cemetery’
As the night goes on the group slowly starts to realize that their stories are starting to tie together, and what starts off as a quiet night, soon becomes a night of terror.
What would make a group of campers decide to camp out beside an old creepy cemetery? What secrets does ‘Ha Ha Cemetery’ hold?
Prepare yourself for four deadly tales of terror!
Small confession, I love anthologies. As a viewer it’s nice to not have to commit to what can sometimes end up becoming a “padded” out story, and often times these horror shorts really pack a punch. I think back to how I felt when I first watched ‘Monster’, the short that inspired the full length feature for ‘The Babadook’. I was disturbed! I was also impressed at how in such a short time, characters could be developed and the horror could still produce impact, which was felt long after it was over.
Which brings me to Tales from the Campfire by director/writer Tim Bell, a huge thanks to him and his crew for delivering on a fun horror treat, I really enjoyed reviewing this one. Once the end credits rolled, I was thinking at how I would like to see what director Bell and crew could do with an even bigger budget and a longer runtime, maybe even expanding one of the segments. But don’t let my chatter of “bigger budgets” deter you from enjoying this one, their creativity really shines though for this indie horror, and you can tell the love of horror was on full display!
Like all of my favorite camping themed horror movies, this one begins with a group of friends packing up and heading out to the woods for a nice weekend away. As the four buds settle around the campfire, they start off by telling some creepy stories to set the mood, which revolve around the area in which they are currently staying. These four friends are pretty likable too, I really enjoyed their banter back and forth about other horror movies, particularly with their discussion about Sleepaway Camp. It is with those little tidbits of dialogue that, I as a horror fan, find quite charming and relatable.
The ‘Campfire Wraparound’ story is the main feature here, and it was nice to see the parallels with each story being told by the campers. I don’t always enjoy wraparound segments, as I usually feel that they are somewhat left on the back burner, regarding the plot, but this was actually my favorite of the collection. It had moments that reminded me of one of my favorite TV shows from the 90’s, ‘Are You Afraid Of The Dark?’…but with a Lovecraftian sensibility.
Now, on to the “stories”…
‘A Dark Past ‘ is the first campfire story that is told, and it does a good job of setting up what will become a much larger storyline, while treating viewers to some great suspense. Essentially, our character is returning years later to her childhood home, while discovering things that may not be what she removers.This isolated home out in the woods harbors a dark evil, one that is all too anxious to see the light!
‘Ha Ha Cemetery’ is the second story told at the campfire, and it is with this story that the movie shifts into themes that are influencing the overall plot for our four campers. It was my second favorite segment of the anthology, because it features some gnarly looking creepers, particularly a Raven masked slasher with an axe! I’m a sucker for masked loons, and this story not only had him, but also a scythe carrying hooded creeper too. But why are they at the graveyard, and why are they fighting to get to the couple that stumbled among them?
I think i could relate to this scenario, as I found myself hanging out in cemeteries quit a bit as a teenager with friends, always getting into trouble. I can’t imagine stumbling across a couple creeps like this! It was fun and had a unique spin as it played out, I won’t say much more about it but I think The Raven deserves his own standalone feature.
‘The Dead Will Rise’ is the last story told, before the wraparound is all tied up, and boy is it a fun tale of terror! It is shown in black & white, which appealed to my love for the original ‘Night of the Living Dead’ movie, albeit much more campier. The ghouls featured in this short were all unique in their aesthetic too, they had that classic creature-monster zombie look that viewers will appreciate.
Which brings me to the conclusion of the anthology, my only complaint is I would have been just as happy with another story being told by our campers, but that’s a minor complaint. I won’t reveal much about the wrap-up, but I will say it took me back to those times i would stay up late watching those campy 80’s and 90’s horror movies from yesteryear, while hanging out with my friends.
The classic gothic horror tropes are present, the foggy cemeteries, the smoky blue-hued outlines of doors, “Dark Lords”; and to the masked creepers lurking about at night! Tales from the Campfire wears its nostalgia on its sleeve, and I can’t wait to add it to my annual Halloween lineup!
Look for it later this year!
Tales from the Campfire (2017)