Campfire Tales vs. Campfire Stories

They were each released between 4 – 6 years apart through the course of a decade. They feature a surprising number of familiar faces. You might not be able to remember which is which. Heck, you may not even realize they’re different movies. So it’s time for me to document all three in a blog so I’ll be able to remember which is which.

CAMPFIRE TALES (1991)

Coming from 1991, Campfire Tales still has that awesome 80s direct-to-video look and feel, from the synth music to the fog machines and lighting.

And it stars Texas Chainsaw alum Gunnar Hansen as the wraparound storyteller who entertains three boys camping out in the woods at night.

1st story – Yay! It’s a Halloween story!

It begins as the hook killer urban legend and turns into a girl at her house being chased by a maniac.

Totally fun, totally Halloween.

2nd story – A kind of trippy tale…partially because it’s about guys tripping on drugs. They finally find a dealer with a fucked up face who hooks them up with some good shit…that gives them the “munchies”.

 3rd story – A Christmas story, too? This is my kind of anthology film.

A psychotic dude who losing his shit because his family spends all their money on his nephew and niece offers to babysit them…and “Santa” shows up to teach those who have been naughty a lesson. Classic and creepy.

4th story – This one takes so long to get to the good stuff…pirate zombies! A dude is stranded on an island, we get boring voodoo background, and then finally the zombie pirates come out of the water!

Cool looking daylight zombies, but they’re also swashbucklers, so there’s a sword fight! Ugh.

The two holiday tales are definitely my faves in this flick.

CAMPFIRE TALES (1997)

Confused yet? I have no idea why they wouldn’t come up with a different title for this one that came out only 6 years later in the same decade. Campfire Tales 1997 is mostly just a bunch of classic urban legends integrated into plots (much like Urban Legend would do a year later).

It jumps right into things with a hook arm quickie starring Amy Smart and James Marsden. Yep, something else it has in common with its shared namesake.

The wraparound has Christine “Marsha Brady” Taylor and friends telling scary stories in the woods after having car trouble…

1st story – Mr. Post-It from Sex & the City stars, and he and his woman are terrorized in their RV…by creatures we barely get to see…unless we freeze frame and screenshot it!

2nd story – An early cautionary tale about talking to strangers on the Internet, this one has a little girl terrorized in her home by someone she befriended online.

3rd story – This fairly generic ghost story stars the late Glenn Quinn of Roseanne as a guy who stops at a mute woman’s house for help after his motorcycle dies.

Finally, the wraparound gives us a twist that wasn’t as much of a cliché twenty years ago as it might seem now.

Overall, I found the low budget Campfire Tales to be more fun.

CAMPFIRE STORIES (2001)

And finally, this is direct-to-video silliness from the great resurgence that took place when DVDs became the new fad in home movie watching. It also has the distinction of having two future creators and stars of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in its cast: Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day.

In the spirit of anthologies like Tales from the Crypt and Creepshow, the only anthology in this trio with a half unique title begins with an introduction by a burning skull head suggesting it’s based on a horror comic book.

In the wraparound, Jamie-Lynn Sigler and two boys get stranded in the woods after car trouble and come upon a sheriff, played by David Johansen of glam punk band New York Dolls, who some of you may know as Buster Poindexter and many of you might know at all because I’m fricking old. He tells them a bunch of tales…

1st – Holy crap, it’s seriously nothing more than an actual cheap, hard rock music video when we get a montage of a patient killing everyone an insane asylum. I fricking love it. 20 years later, a bunch of jocks terrorizes a weird gardener at their school in the woods, where they’re in for a big surprise.

“What…are you going to do with that white-gloved fist…?”

Shockingly, a young Perez Hilton plays one of the jocks…and calls another kid a homo. So that’s where he learned to hurl anti-gay slurs…

2nd story – Like a Creepshow 2 tale, this is about kids wronging a Native American and then suffering the consequences. But man, does it have the cheesiest, cartoonish hallucination sequences (we’re talking cartoon wolves coming out of fires).

3rd story – The best of the bunch, this is about a girl who’s convinced she’s being stalked. It gets into slasher territory when she has friends over and they start playing truth or dare. A pretty basic tale, but it does a good job of making you wonder whodunit.

The wraparound concludes with an appearance by The Misfits playing at a party…the most memorable aspect of the film.

 

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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