Fifteen years ago in this rural area of Colorado there had been talk of an Indian shaman who wandered the forests and threatened whoever he encountered, but nobody really took the stories seriously, they were like an urban myth. Certainly Tony (Stefano Madia) didn't, he just wanted to get to the camp thereabouts where tourists would stay, and the young locals liked to frolic, Tony's choice of frolicking tonight being a schoolfriend, Rose (Clelia Fradella), in spite of his supposed interest in another girl. Once darkness had fallen and they were appreciating one another's company, a young boy whose parents owned the camp was skulking around when he witnessed something that would leave a terrible mark on his psyche...
Could it be that the shaman is real? Somebody has bumped off Tony and Rose within ten minutes of the movie beginning, and we are supposed to be casting doubts on the yarn that he is not, though frankly by the point we get to the last scene we will be left none the wiser, as whenever we see the shaman it is someone wearing an old geezer mask, which begs the question, why would a shaman sport a shaman mask if he was already a shaman underneath the mask and presumably looked more or less the same? If you expect that conundrum to be solved, then Bodycount will prove an immensely frustrating proposition for you, as it was another eighties slasher clone with more energy than sense.
Though at least it had that energy, thanks to brisk direction from Ruggero Deodato, already a notorious name in Italian horror thanks to his lurid effort Cannibal Holocaust, a work whose controversy endures to this day. This was a lot more generic, admittedly with that particularly Italian brand of off-kilter plotting and detail that had their fans preferring this to certain North American product from the golden age for the country's shockers which lasted from the nineteen-sixties to the early eighties. Note that this was released in the mid-eighties, the point when the inspiration was running dry and the giallo genre was looking old hat compared to the slasher genre from across the Atlantic.
Only unless you were a fan of the big horror franchises, the slashers were looking old hat too, and even then originality was thin on the ground as the supernatural was crowbarred in to keep your Halloween or Friday the 13th stumbling forward. It was unclear even as the credits rolled if the collection of screenwriters had taken than option as well, for most of it seemed to be of the masked maniac with a kitchen knife cutting a swathe through the cast variety, said cast mostly made up of young holidaymakers looking for a good time and predictably finding nothing of the kind. Leading those young folks was former World Speedway Champion Bruce Penhall, for whom the attraction of speed had adapted into the attraction for acting in cheapo exploitation flicks.
Not before a stint alongside Erik Estrada in TV action series CHiPs for a one season flop, and sure enough there is a spot of motorcycle action here, a sop to either Penhall to keep him interested, or his fans who would want to be engaged with the goings-on somehow. More interesting for cult movie fans were the more experienced actors, with Euro-stalwarts Mimsy Farmer and David Hess as the married couple running the camp, a marriage surely made in heaven if you were an aficionado of their oeuvre, the prolific John Steiner and Ivan Rassimov lurking in the background, and favourite of both Russ Meyer and Jonathan Demme alike, Charles Napier as the Sheriff who has a teddy bear on his dashboard, a toy that keeps showing up to herald another murder to no reason ever explained in the movie. Not that this lot got a tremendous amount to do other than act suspicious, have the odd dream or canoodle or whatnot, with most of the bloodshed given over to the more youthful cast members. Add aerobics and nudity and you had the recipe for eventful yet fatally silly nonsense. Music by Claudio Simonetti.
Italian director best known his ultra-violent horror work, but whose filmography takes in many genres over a 40-year career. Worked as an assistant director on a variety of films during the sixties, and made his first credited directing debut in 1968 with the superhero yarn Phenomenal and the Treasure of Tutankamen. Throughout the following decade Deodato made erotic dramas (Gungalar, Waves of Lust), musical comdies (Man Only Cries for Love), and comic book romps (Zenabel).
It was Ruggero's horror films that gained him an international reputation however. The trashy Last Cannibal World was followed by 1980's notorious Cannibal Holocaust, and the likes of House on the Edge of the Park, Cut and Run and Bodycount were popular amongst video audiences during the eighties. Other films during this period include the action fantasy The Barbarians and bizarre thriller Dial Help, while Deodato's work during the nineties was largely confined to Italian TV.