Monday, October 19, 2015

Octoberfest Five: 5 Reasons Not To Go Camping, Backpacking or Hiking

In a horror film, camping has long been the kiss of death as far as taking a vacation or just getting away for a long, relaxing weekend.  We've all seen Friday the 13th, The Burning, and Sleepaway Camp, and those are just a few of the settings that make us wish we went to the beach instead (though that comes with its own risks....Da-Dum, Da-Dum!).  But let's take a look at five good reasons to just stay home and pitch a tent in your backyard instead.


1) Mother Nature And All Her Furry Friends:   

People really shouldn't camp in areas where there are big effing bears.  I don't know how much clearer we need to be about this.  It's almost like you deserve it when you head off the beaten path and end up in a bear den.  In Backcountry, that's exactly what happens.  A couple heads off for a romantic weekend (of course!) at a park where he spent many a good time at as a youngster. He's familiar with all the trails, and there's a super-cool site with a waterfall and...yadda yadda yadda.  Naturally, they get lost and are served up for a extra-large black bear's afternoon snack.

The Canyon
Movies like Grizzly, Into The Grizzly Maze, and The Edge also have folks setting up camp in the strike zone.  I guess we'll never really learn.  Even naturalist and "bear expert" Timothy Treadwell (subject of the documentary Grizzly Man) was dealt the ultimate hard lesson when camping out with bears - he and his girlfriend died of a fatal bear attack in Alaska, all the while thinking they were "friends" with the half-ton beasts.  In The Canyon, a couple on their honeymoon decide the best thing to do is hike deep into a canyon with a tour guide.  Seems relatively harmless until the guide gets bit by rattlesnakes and dies....leaving them with no map, no guide, and not nearly enough common sense.  And as if it's not bad enough to be stuck in a desert canyon, the wolves come a' callin'. 

Wrong Turn

2) The Cannibal Problem: 

 Why does it seem like there are an awful lot of cannibals in movies?  I realize they are extremely frightening - because everyone's greatest fear is being eaten alive, no matter who's the eater, man or beast.  In Wrong Turn, Jessie's friends convince her to go camping/hiking in order to get her mind off a broken heart.  The five of them head into the wilds of West Virginia but on their way end up in a wreck with someone passing through.  Chris is a medical student in a hurry after being detoured and he accidentally crashes into the other car, which they find out has been disabled due to running over barbed wire placed strategically on the road for just that purpose.  They band together to look for help but end up running into blood-thirsty cannibals whose names are simply the best in all of horror: "Three Finger", "Saw-Tooth", and "One-Eye". Gotta love it. 

The Hills Have Eyes
In The Hills Have Eyes (both the new and old versions), a family takes their travel trailer on a camping vacation, only to take an ill-advised alternate route and end up crashing, leaving them stuck in the desert.  But they're not alone.  A truly bizarre and inbred family of cannibals track their every move, and eventually make their lives a living hell until the relatively bleak ending. These are just two examples of people purposely camping in places they are unfamiliar and running into the local yokels turns out to be the biggest mistake of all.  And we shan't forget The Descent, in which a group of women intent on spelunking end up at the mercy of humanoid cannibals in an endless, extremely claustrophobia-inducing cave. 

Friday the 13th

3) Just Effing Crazy, That's All!  

 There is an absolute laundry list of films that have a crazed killer hunting down every last camper and making them pay for whatever reason they claim to have.  The granddaddy of them all, Friday the 13th, set the stage for tons of similar movies:  The Burning, Sleepaway Camp, Just Before Dawn, Campfire Tales....let alone the countless sequels to a few of these flicks...and we're way into double digits.  When someone just kills for no reason you can think of, it's terrifying.  So to see a killer stalking camp counselors or even the youngsters themselves, well....let's just say if I had a kid they wouldn't be going to summer camp.  (Though I did every year and didn't turn too bad - except this obsession with horror.  Hmmm.....  My favorite of these types of movies is the original Friday the 13th.  Way back in 1980! But I first saw it in junior high school so it's like an old friend ! In it, a group of cam
p counselors are tasked with getting ol' Camp Crystal Lake in working order.  But it turns out a young mentally inept child drowned in the lake because the counselors were getting it on and weren't watching Jason.   So your main rule of thumb when working at a camp:  DON'T HAVE SEX.  Cause these killers are apparently not getting any and are pretty pissed off about it. 

Eden Lake
Sometimes, it doesn't matter what you do, people are just fucking nuts.  In Wolf Creek, a trio of friends go backpacking in the Australian outback and meet up with Mick Taylor, whom they later find out has intents on killing them for fun, and proceeds to do so. 
Another more recent favorite of mine, Eden Lake, brings us the tale of two lovers who escape to a beautiful lakeside camping area for the weekend and instead have a nasty run-in with a bunch of local delinquents.  They have loud music and a barking dog and basically make the couple miserable.  Intending to report the brats, Steve (Michael Fassbender) finds things get even worse, with the gang now set to torment them and actually cause them bodily harm.  It's a brutal, unforgiving thriller and one you should see if you haven't already. 

Cabin Fever

4) Don't Drink The Water:

 Presenting a different type of horror to contend with, Eli Roth's Cabin Fever brings us yet another bunch of college-age kids that are headed to the woods to have some spring break fun.  The group has an incident with a homeless man in which one of them shoots him unintentionally.  He doesn't die right away and later comes back to the cabin to ask for help, looking really out-of-sorts.  The group refuse him and somehow during a struggle, the dude ends up on fire.  What they don't know is that said hermit has contracted a disease of some sort and has passed it on to the group by vomiting blood on them.  But it's too late because one by one they contract the deadly infection and most end up succumbing to the inexplicable malady.  It's probably more obvious to the audience that it is most likely Necrotizing Fasciitis (a.k.a. flesh-eating bacteria)It's a little closer to home than most horror in the woods kind of movie, as this is something that strikes fear into the heart of most men, and you can learn more about this horrific disease HERE. Please just remember you don't have to be in the woods or camping to get that one. Gah!

The Blair Witch Project

5) Witches and Monsters and Deadites, Oh My!!

The Blair Witch Project ruined camping for more than just a few people, I'm sure.  I didn't even want to go in my basement, let alone out in the woods to pitch a tent. When Heather, Mike and Josh set out into the woods of Maryland in search of a local legend, you know something bad is bound to happen.  Some of the most tense moments of this film are when the trio are inside their tent, listening to whatever is outside the tent.  Breaking the found footage sub-genre wide open, it doesn't have the same punch if you watch it a second time, but that first experience is killer. 

The Barrens
Another urban legend gone wrong is seen in The Barrens.  Richard  (Stephen Moyer of True Blood fame) takes his reluctant family camping in order to get back to nature (the idea is to relinquish cell phones as well) in the Pine Barrens of southern NJ.  Not only do they run into what appears to be the Jersey Devil, but Richard's mental health weirdly deteriorates.  Fun stuff.  In An American Werewolf in London, Jack and David are backpacking through Europe and find themselves face to face with a werewolf who proceeds to pass his curse on to our American pals.
And probably the best loved and most well known of all "cabin in the woods" flicks is The Evil Dead and its sequel, Evil Dead II.  While not literally tent-camping in the woods, this film still gives us the tense atmosphere of a group getting together for fun and love and instead being berated, chased, and killed by Kandarian demons brought forth by an evil incantation. Spring break turns into the deadite apocalypse. 

Seriously people, next time head to the beach.

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