Saturday, 9 October 2010

Body Count (1986)

"The woods are alive with the sound of screaming"

Summer camp proprietor Robert (David Hess) is convinced that his site is built upon an Indian burial ground that was cursed by a vengeful shaman. His fears appear borne out when local teenagers Rose and Tom are murdered one night by a crazed knifemen who is never caught – the maniac actually being revealed as Robert’s young son Ben!

Fifteen years later and Ben is returning home from a spell in the army when he is picked up by Tony, Sid, Sissy, Tracey and Carol. As thanks for the ride he offers them the opportunity to stay at his old folks’ campsite. Arriving simultaneously at the site are Scott, Sharon and Dave who plan some hunting and fishing. The gang are welcomed by Robert’s wife Julia after he has tried to warn them off by explaining that the camp is closed and the bodies tart piling up faster tan you can say “derivative uninspired nonsense”!

Robert is plainly the prime suspect – his anger at Julia for her dalliance with a local cop providing an all too obvious motive – although it comes as a huge surprise (except the audience) when the killer is eventually shot and unmasked as Ben! Of course as well as the pre-credits unmasking of Ben we also have the benefit of a flashback sequence of young Ben stumbling upon his mother having sex with her cop lover and being warned not to tell his father lest he involves the shaman! Well, I suppose it’s as good a reason as any…

Whilst he may have proven himself the undisputed king of the cannibal chow down, Ruggero Deodato proves that he is no slasher supremo. Body Count really is 84 minutes of ridiculous hokum that manages to reduce stalwarts Hess, Charles Napier and Ivan Rassimov to ineffective bit parts. Hess in particular is wasted, vastly underused but acting over–crazy, tortured by his wife’s infidelity and obsessively setting traps for the wandering shaman. Matters are not helped by a series of jumpy edits and a lack of continuity, Ben telling his new friends that the unsolved murders took place twelve years ago. Another great continuity gaffe has Tracey trooping off to the shower block after a spot of outdoor aerobics (this was the Eighties remember!) and although broad daylight when she arrives at the block, it’s pitch black by the time she manages to take her top off!

Deodato appears oblivious to the fact that a slasher film is often only remembered by the quality of it’s death scenes. Given the ferocity of the violence in Cannibal Holocaust and Cut and Run, it’s sad to report that the killings in Body Count are relatively tame and uninventive, several looking like they’re from a job lot of cut price Fulci flicks one resembling the “knife through the back of the head and out of the mouth” as favoured in House By The Cemetery. What’s even more astounding is that there’s a quartet of scriptwriters attached to this tosh! The only saving grace comes courtesy of a pounding score from former Goblin man Claudio Simonetti.

IVS Video originally released Body Count in the UK with cuts totalling 14 seconds, the rear cover boasting a “thrilling climax guaranteed to make even the toughest squirm”. Anyone wanting to check out the “predictable climax telegraphed within the first ten minutes” can do so courtesy of a fully uncut German DVD from E.M.S.

Rob Bewick

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