Summer Camp Nightmare – Beef Baloney

summercampnightmare-embassy1Growing up, I exhausted the horror sections of many of the local video stores.  It didn’t take long to figure out which sub genres resonated the most with me.  Although I consider myself a horror fan in general, my first love in the genre was slasher movies.  The early Friday the 13th movies set the standard for me and I wanted to see anything that felt like a summer camp slasher.

Seeing Summer Camp Nightmare in the horror section was an obvious no-brainer for me.  I was a little wary when I saw a gun on the cover, I prefer my slashers to use old fashioned pointy objects, and the PG-13 rating was unusual for the type of content I usually wanted to see.  Still, I knew from Monster in the Closet that a PG-13 movie could potentially have nudity and there were some 80s girls in their underwear and one wearing short pink shorts.  Combine that with the guy wearing an Iron Maiden shirt that looks a bit like Kevin DuBrow from Quiet Riot and the pros far outweighed the cons.  I took it home and hoped for the best.

First off, the movie was in no way a slasher.  After that initial disappointment though, it did start to grow on me.  It grew on me so much that I even tracked down the novel that it was based on.

The moment that I add to my collection today though was not in the 1960 novel and, in fact, could probably only be found in a lower budget 80s video.

Here’s how it happened: During a camp talent show, a couple of the bigger kids try to stir things up by dressing up like a Motley Crue cover band and singing along to Fear’s Beef Baloney.  Take a look at it, you won’t be sorry:

With so many incredible things going here, I hardly know where to begin.  The song is as good a place as any.  This is what Fear played on Saturday Night Live in the early 80s, but Summer Camp Nightmare was my first experience.  I’m not a punk aficionado or anything but I will stand by the statement that there aren’t enough songs about Beef Baloney.  During how many other songs does it feel absolutely necessary to pump your fist or grab your crotch every time the chorus plays?  Sometimes it’s necessary to do both.  I had to take this one off of my driving playlist for this reason.

Coupled with the song is an amazing performance.  I can’t tell if they’re supposed to be actually performing it in the movie or just lip syncing.  It’s obviously the Fear track playing and the electric guitars aren’t plugged in or anything, but notice the guy on the drums and another guy behind him on the keyboard.  These guys make me think that this is supposed to be a genuine live performance. I can’t come to a definitive answer either way.  The bigger question perhaps, is why can’t I just relax and enjoy this movie?

Even though the song is pure punk rock, the performance feels like good old fashioned 80s hair metal.  What I love about that era of music (aside from everything) was how seriously the bands could look while doing the most ridiculous things in the most ridiculous outfits.  As much as I love Dokken, it must have been at least a little hard to keep a completely straight face on the set of the Dream Warriors video.

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 10.52.22 PM

This is not a slight.  It adds to the fun.  If I remember correctly, Dokken’s Back for the Attack was the first CD I ever bought with my own money, because of that song in particular.

The same goes here.  When John Mason and Stanley Runk the Punk come charging out on the stage in front of a few dozen people they’re wearing torn up tank tops, tight jeans, high top sneakers, and a fair amount of make up.  They don’t crack one smile as they fist pump, crotch grab, and dance their way through the song.  Rocking out is serious business.

These things alone would been enough to warrant this moment a spot in my collection, but the reactions of the audience are the icing on the cake.  First off, watch Chuck Connors as Mr. Warren, the camp director, at about 1:05.  There’s something timeless about the classic curmudgeon who hates loud music.  Connors does this perfectly  He’s also a formidable presence, so when the kids strike back at the out of touch and overbearing authority figure by way of rock and roll, it evokes the spirit of Twisted Sister.  We’re Not Gonna Take It indeed.  This shot would be silly and funny with any old man, but Connors makes it actually work for the movie.

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 11.02.57 PMThen there’s Franklin Reilley, leader of the revolution that turns into the titular nightmare.  He’s apparently happy the enough that Mr. Warren is bothered by the loud music that he grins at him like this:

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 11.29.41 PMI’m guessing this is the picture he uses to register with the police every time he moves to a new neighbourhood.  Just looking at this smirk gives me that no feeling that guidance counselors warned me about in elementary school.

Of course, all of this plays right into Reilley’s hands as Mr. Warren stomps up, ends the talent show, and cancels an upcoming co-ed dance.  This leaves many of the kids ripe for a revolution.  I’d smile like a molester too.

This scene has all the makings of an unforgettable moment.  As they often are, this one is equal parts absurd and awesome.  Anyone that I’ve met that has actually seen Summer Camp Nightmare will usually recall this scene before any others.  This is a moment that I’d like to bottle up and take with me anywhere I might need a pick-me-up.

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14 Responses to Summer Camp Nightmare – Beef Baloney

  1. Fringe Void says:

    I have this on VHS! I bought it from a resale mall a few years back cos the title and text on the front of the box made me think it was a Sleepaway Camp knockoff. I was confused when it wasn’t.

    Wow, I had no idea, nor would I have expected, that “Beef Bologna” was an actual 80s jam. To be honest, I’m kinda bummed knowing it wasn’t specifically written for the film.

    Two things I remember: 1) The blurb on the front of the box is signed “Marvin”. There’s no Marvin. 2) It’s mentioned the only way to get from the boys’ camp to the girls’ camp is by crossing a rickety old rope bridge that can barely support a single person, but later, the entirety of the boys’ camp just shows up at girls’ camp without explanation! Heh, maybe I missed something there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • drhumpp says:

      I’ve always compared this with Sleepaway Camp as well. They’re not all that similar, but I still think they go well together – would still make a good double feature.

      The acting in this one is better, but the oddness of Sleepaway Camp is hard to beat. The fashion in both movies usually elicits the same response.

      Honestly, I didn’t know the song was real either until I got on the internet. I’m a sucker for songs written specifically for the movie (is there anything better than the Ballad of Harry Warden?), but Beef Baloney is so absurd that it gets a pass.

      That Marvin thing was always peculiar. Obviously they had not watched the movie when designing the cover. You’d think they’d choose a name that stands out a little less than Marvin though. Again, it’s peculiar enough to warrant it’s own entry here!

      As for the rope bridge, I don’t think you missed anything. It wasn’t featured in the novel, but I always assumed that the rope bridge led directly to the girls camp but that there must have been a long way around as well. In the novel, they kids took on of the counselor’s cars to get over a few times.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Tony Parsons says:

    There’s certainly a lot of crotch-grabbing here! What a pity this sort of stuff isn’t in the zeitgeist anymore. I heear Motley Crue are touring again … could cock rock make a resurgence?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Haven’t seen this one but looks like I might have to seek it out!

    Liked by 1 person

    • drhumpp says:

      I think it’s out of print and I don’t think it ever got a legitimate DVD release. I do think the VHS is kicking around most used tape bins. Honestly though, the easiest way to go with a movie that hasn’t been available commercially for well over 20 years is youtube.

      If you don’t mind watching on youtube, this is from the LD and looks better than any other version I’ve seen (also the only widescreen print).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Always wanted a George Lynch skeleton guitar…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. markmc2012 says:

    Never heard of it, sounds promising. Saw George Lynch twice, once withe Dokken and once with Lynch Mob but of course sadly no skeleton guitar at either performance.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jay says:

    I really like how in the beginning you describe what’s influencing you to bring this movie home and give it a chance. We don’t often think of about judging the book (or the film) by its cover, but you’ve put it into words very well.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Aaron says:

    “I’m guessing this is the picture he uses to register with the police every time he moves to a new neighbourhood.” Haha, nicely done!

    Liked by 1 person

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