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  Body Count Giallo flavoured slasher
Year: 1986
Director: Ruggero Deodato
Stars: Charles Napier, David Hess, Bruce Penhall, Mimsy Farmer, Nicola Farron, Andrew J. Lederer, Cindy Ann Thompson, Nancy Brilli, Stefano Madia, John Steiner, Ivan Rassimov, Luisa Maneri, Stefano Galantucci, Valentina Forte, Elena Pompei, Lorenzo Grabau
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  2 (from 1 vote)
Review: On the way home to his parents Ben (Nicola Farron) hitches a ride with a camper van load of obnoxiously horny teenagers. Stunt biker Dave Calloway (real-life racer Bruce Penhall), his girlfriend Carol (Luisa Maneri), rock climbing enthusiast Tom (Stefano Galantucci), his gal Sharon (Elena Pompei), would-be stud Tony (Stefano Madia), token annoying wiseass Sid (alleged comedian Andrew J. Lederer) and sexpots Tracy (Nancy Brilli) and Sissy (Cindy Ann Thompson) are looking for fun and frolics at a campsite run by Ben’s parents. While happy to have their son home, Ben’s folks are understandably unenthused by the inane antics of the vacationing teens. Partly because dad Robert (David Hess, uh-oh) is bent on catching the murderous shaman before he kills again. Meanwhile mom Julia (Mimsy Farmer) is having an affair with Charlie (Charles Napier), the local sheriff. Inevitably the teenagers go wandering in the woods. And, just as inevitably, fall prey to the knife-wielding shaman. He slaughters his way through the dim-witted cast until the utterly unsurprising surprise ending.

By the Eighties American slasher films were the dominant strain of horror. Italian exploitation filmmakers, always with an eye on the international market, promptly refashioned the giallo genre into movies more resembling slashers. Hence films like Umberto Lenzi's spring break in Miami-set Nightmare Beach (1989) and Ruggero Deodato's Body Count a.k.a. Camping del terrore. Body Count basically puts Friday the 13th (1980), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1973) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) into a blender and comes up with the most generic result imaginable. Deodato, an inconsistent exploitation director whose output veers from inspired (Cannibal Holocaust (1979), Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man (1976)) to asinine (Zenabel (1969)) and sometimes somewhere in-between (the charmingly trashy Raiders of Atlantis (1983), lazily trots through all the tedious clichés.

You have your false scares. Blatant red herrings. A needlessly elaborate back-story (that pointlessly takes up not only first act but also extended flashbacks!) that sets up subplots for characters promptly killed off. Surrealistic dream sequences that just come across confusing. Nympho girls ready to pop their tops whenever things get dull (which they frequently do). A nonsensical shock ending. And, of course, characters that act like suicidal morons so the audience can feel smug watching them die. The script, written by Alessandro Capone, Italian genre stalwart Dardano Sacchetti and Luca D'Alisera, goes out of its way to seem as American as apple pie. Yet this results only in some truly risible dialogue ("This isn’t good for my ovaries", "You know what I think about democracy, let alone campers"). Also not helping matters are the killer's hokey Halloween ghoul mask and absurd plot contrivance that requires all the victims to constantly visit the grotty bathroom that handily doubles as the murderer's lair. Evidently when it comes to staging his murders the killer is as lazy as Deodato.

Amidst the mix of Italian and American actors, Euro exploitation stalwarts like David Hess, Mimsy Farmer, John Steiner (as the father of a previous victim) and Charles Napier (only a year after his villainous turn in blockbuster Rambo: First Blood, Part II (1985) - what happened, Chuck?) stand only by virtue of their professionalism. Even so the film wastes their efforts. Another genre stalwart, former Goblin keyboardist Claudio Simonetti supplies the cod-John Carpenter synth score that is actually a cheesy-but-fun listen.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


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Ruggero Deodato  (1939 - )

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.

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