Happy Memorial Day weekend, my Enemaniacs in the USA!
This week’s B-Movie Enema is going to take a look at a pretty obscure one that got a little bit of a boost from a fairly recent Blu Ray remastering at Vinegar Syndrome – Memorial Valley Massacre. This is a bit of a weird one for multiple reasons. But let me know if you’ve heard this one before… I first saw this a few times on everyone’s favorite Roku channel, Bizarre TV. That’s not the only time the word “bizarre” might come to mind in this article.
This movie is mostly known for kind of squirting out of the cinematic butthole that supplied video stores and cable with content. And when I say it’s known for that, it’s a pretty unknown movie that blended into the landscape of video store shelves and late night cable TV fodder. Some people who saw the names in the cast like William Smith or our great B-movie daddy in the sky, Cameron Mitchell, and those names might have been juuuust good enough to get people watch or rent it, but they would have likely been quickly turned off by it because it’s a horror film.
But… let’s back up to some of the most bizarre stuff about Memorial Valley Massacre.
In some places where this movie was exported to, it was not known as Memorial Valley Massacre. Instead, it was known as Son of Sleepaway Camp. Yeah. You read that right… SON of Sleepaway Camp. Never mind that this has nothing to do with the Sleepaway Camp series, of which the third film had just been released a month prior in the United States. Okay, fine, Memorial Valley Massacre does have a setting of a park where you can camp. But that’s different than a kids’ campsite. Yet, somehow, someone got the idea to slap the Sleepaway Camp franchise to this to, what? Make it more marketable? Really? Did that work?
The answer is no. It did not work.
And how does a sleepaway camp have a son? How does that even work on a biological level? Fuck biology… How can that happen on a geological level? Why not just call it Sleepaway Camp 4 or something like that?
But that’s not the only bizarre thing about Memorial Valley Massacre. So, let’s back things up a bit. Like I said, I saw this movie a few times on Bizarre TV and I believe it’s played a few times now on OtherWorlds TV (have a Roku? Don’t have OtherWorlds TV? Go get it because it’s great!) by now. I’ve seen two different versions of this movie. The movie I’ve seen most commonly that this Memorial Valley Massacre title is slapped on is what is getting reviewed today. There is a scene that comes along about halfway into this movie where our leading male actor and leading female actor start getting a little friendly with each other. There’s a thunderstorm that forces them to get out of their clothes and cuddle in a tent for warmth. You get what I’m saying. Well, in both versions of the movie, a love scene happens. In this version, it’s two people having a typical, American movie love scene. In the other version of the movie, hardcore, penetrative sex scenes are inserted into the movie.
I shit you not. There is a version of this film where hardcore sex scenes are inserted into the love scene to spice things up. This is one of those things that you might think is a hoax or an urban legend. It’s not. I’ve seen it with my own goddamned eyeballs. I’ve seen dick go into vagina in the middle of this movie. To be completely honest, that’s one way to make the movie memorable. Because, come on… a movie with “Memorial” in the title is far from memorable.
ANYway… Let’s just get into this movie and start setting up camp.
The movie opens with pleasant music and serene shots of nature in this park. But it soon turns scary as the title of the movie scrolls in from the right of the screen. However, the pleasant and chipper sounding music returns as campers arrive to take in the beauty of American nature for Memorial Day weekend. I never noticed how many Slavic looking names there are in the crew of this movie. That kind of feels like the type of thing that is a cover for fraud or something.
Anyway, this lineup of campers and visitors to the new campground facility is stopped at the gate by a worker at the park named Deke. Deke is met by David Sangster who is going to be working there. David is the son of Allen Sangster, played by Cameron Mitchell. Allen is already there giving the various workers an earful. The park is not ready to open. After all the money that Allen Sangster has dumped into turning this into a camping resort, the roads aren’t done, the water supply is poop, electricity is boned, other supplies to get things up and running are late, and a construction worker died that morning.
Cameron Mitchell has no time for this. He needs this open for Memorial Day, goddammit!
The water is tainted by a dead dog in the well. While it isn’t all that uncommon for animals to fall down a well, it isn’t common for them to lift a 50-pound cover to dive into the well to commit suicide. So, clearly, something is already messed up. However, there’s no way to avoid opening the park even without running water or toilets or much of anything else that would make for a suitable situation. Construction guys aren’t going to stick around either. They are taking the weekend off after one of their guys died accidentally.
Cameron Mitchell is very happy that his ranger is willing to get things open to avoid missing out on a fairly important weekend for camping.
Wait… Is it? Is Memorial Day weekend a big camping holiday? I have never gone camping. I don’t like not having showers. I dislike spiders even more. I also hate the heat and humidity so camping in Indiana in the summertime is right out. But campers… Is Memorial Day weekend a good time to hit the campgrounds? Hit me up on this webzone to let me know what’s up with that.
George Webster is the guy who will be running Memorial Valley Campgrounds. He apparently was the one who sold Allen Sangster on buying this property. Allen is surprised to see his son there, but it’s David’s idea to take his dad up on an offer of a job. Allen meant that to be something more corporate and “important” and not being a schlub at one of the properties. He does think it a good idea for David to remain here to look after his interests which pisses George off and immediately sets up a little bit of friction between these two leading characters.
Cameron Mitchell then gets in his car an drives off and will not be seen again for the entire movie.
It’s been two hours since the campers arrived. George has to break the news to the campers that there aren’t any poopers for them to use. This makes some people leave disgruntled. George says he’s got some biodegradable toilet paper to give out to people so they can shit behind some bushes. The campers get in and they are definitely some goofs in this group of vacationers. Some are clumsy. Some are knocking over trees with their campers. Some are littering. You get it.
George and David are talking about the strange events that have gone on recently. David says that Deke thinks these things aren’t accidents. George says that Deke has an overactive imagination. When he goes into the storage shed, he sees that the window has been been knocked out of its frame. As he leaves, there’s a literal caveman hiding in behind the door. Wouldn’t you think that George would smell a literal caveman in this small storage shed?
Anyway, yeah… Caveman. In 1989, who thought it was a good idea to have a caveman be the horror monster for a movie? Sure there are movies in the past in which cavemen were used. Yeah, we’ve seen Ringo Starr play a caveman as well as Raquel Welch and what have you. Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer was probably a thing by then. My point is, cavemen don’t exactly make for exciting movie characters.
That is until Encino Man changed the world.
Anyway, David sees a damsel in distress, Cheryl (played by Lesa Lee in one of only two movies she made), who is trying to pitch a tent. I could make a very easy pitching a tent joke here, but I shall refrain and simply say that David has a raging boner for this comely lass. She, on the other hand, does not have any intention to hookup with a dude on her weekend retreat that she plans to spend alone. In fact, she actually tells him to get lost in so many words.
Prior to meeting Cheryl, we did also see that the caveman guy, who is listed in the credits as “hermit” to, I have to assume, distance themselves from admitting they made a movie with a literal pelt-wearing caveman wreaking havoc at a campsite, freak out a bit when a guest’s dog begins barking. It’s clear he is no fan of dogs. He definitely killed the dog that was tossed into the well. He at least hurt the dog that made him freak out.
We start to meet the fodder for the movie. There’s a group of bikers that are spending the weekend together. A couple who has one of the brattiest sons you will ever see in any movie ever who runs off with one of the biker’s knives. There’s a couple who get a shit load of poisonous snakes all over their food. They also complain about the camp being in ramshackle condition. They want to leave. David tells George he thinks someone is pranking the other campers because the snakes were inside the campers’ cooler. That… That concept goes no further than David making that inference.
There are three punk kids, Tom, Rick, and Wendy. Tom and Rick both like Wendy. She decides to make the guys drool over her until she finally decides which one she wants to fuck. They generally create some problems by blasting their music loudly and disrespecting the grownups in the campsite. They are cartoonish shitbags. Wendy does have a memorable dance during a thunderstorm later in the movie, but otherwise, these characters pretty much need to die instantly.
So that dickhead kid who stole the knife earlier from the bikers also has a three-wheeler. David takes the keys from the kid after the kid tells David to fuck off. The kid’s parents are a real piece of work too by berating David and George about how they have all this money invested in the off-road bikes. So, we kind of have an entire park of unlikable people with Deke, David, and Cheryl being the only exceptions. George isn’t even that likable with his constant harping on David and thinking he’s a corporate spy and worse, gasp, a college boy.
So, the big kid who is just the absolute worst uses the knife he got from the bikers to break into George’s office and get his keys back. He also steal’s George’s pocket watch that he said his father gave him ages ago. This is happening while George goes to General Mintz’s camper. Mintz is played by William Smith. now that I think about it, both Smith and Mitchell were in Action U.S.A. around this time too. Interestingly, in neither movie do they share a scene together.
The biggest issue with this movie is that you really have to wait until about the halfway point for anything worth a crap happens. We’ve been going for almost 30 minutes and all we’re getting is the introduction to these fairly unlikable characters. Maybe we’re meeting unlikable characters so we can root for their demise? I dunno. I do know that the movie is really acting more like a comedy in this first half than a horror or a thriller. It’s like a movie that refuses to have a genre. It struggles with its genre identity.
Now, one good thing happens. That turd kid that has the three-wheeler is driving around and just being an utter turd. Hearing the three-wheeler, the caveman attacks him and throws him from his trike. When the little turd uses the knife to slash the caveman’s face, the caveman becomes the true hero of the movie and snaps that little fucker’s neck.
At the community bonfire with the entirety of the campers, a thunderstorm breaks out. Under the shelter set up for the food and beer, Deke tells spooky stories. The bikers laugh at the story he tells. Deke tells the biker leader that there are unexplainable things that happen in this valley and things will continue to go on well after all of these people have left the Earth.
Cheryl brings up that she read there are things that only exist here in Memorial Valley. David confirms that this area is basically a micro-ecosystem of its own. He says it’s kind of a shame that it’s been developed into a campground. Funny, I just thought it looked like some dumpy valley somewhere in Southern California, but what do I know? It’s funny how they make a big deal about this being “God’s private little playground” when it’s not exactly a pretty location to make a movie.
George, even in the driving rain, is out poking around. Deke tells David that he’s one of the best trackers he’s ever met. They met in Vietnam where George was part of Special Forces. David asks what George is tracking in such a heavy rainstorm. Deke says he’s looking for his past. You see, George was once married and he had a kid, but after the wife took off the kid was kidnapped. Memorial Valley was supposed to be the place the ransom was going to be paid. The police and FBI bungled the trap set for the kidnapper. The kidnapper and little kid were never found.
But fuck off with this backstory (that we already know means the caveman is George’s son) because it’s time for Wendy to do the ONLY thing in this movie she will ever been remembered for because her and her two little fuckboi friends are complete assholes. Wendy, decides to run out into the rain and talk about how it feels cold and feels nice and let her titty hard on rile up all the guys. This is an utterly bonkers moment because there is no music. There’s barely any ambient whooping and hollering from the guys watching this. She’s just yelling like the typical drunk tease at a party and it just… happens. It’s like one of those videos you find on YouTube where someone takes a scene from a movie and removes the music and just let it play out awkwardly. That’s exactly what the above scene is.
Now… After the two dudes that want to plow this exhibitionist chick take her off to their tent for their own private party, and the rest of the party disperses, this is where the only other memorable thing about this movie will be found IF you watch the edit that has the pornographic, penetrative sex shots spliced in. Cheryl lets David walk her back to her tent so she can be covered by a tarp and not get soaked. They get back to her tent and they are clearly freezing from the rain. They have a drink and then decide to get that body warmth by stripping down to their birthday suits and getting a one way ticket to Poundtown.
I do not have the version that has the porno bits put in. I’m actually surprised that Vinegar Syndrome didn’t find a way to put that cut into their Blu Ray release. But, alas, they only released the chaste, normal version where these two first strip down to towels to warm up, then David explains how they conserve heat with their body temperatures and they have a normal movie sex scene.
Boo! Show us your tits! Show us that diiiick!
Anyway, the caveman is lurking around. In one tent, we have Cheryl and David fucking all adult-like and like real mature people. In another tent, Wendy, Tom, and Rick are trying to figure out their sleeping arrangement. They are nearly attacked by a bear that pokes its nose into their tent, but they soon find the dead body of that turd kid that the caveman thankfully did away with.
Their screaming, unfortunately, cock-blocks David. He and Deke take the kid’s body to George’s office. George immediately chalks this up as being a bear attack. After all, a bear was spotted by the three kids. David doesn’t agree. He thinks the slashes and wounds are too clean for it to be an animal. David wants to call the police, but George tells him he knows who to call and he’ll take care of it. So then David says he’s calling his father to let him know. George rips the phone wire out of the phone to stop him from notifying anyone.
The cops come and take the kid’s body away. The sheriff tells George they need to do something about the bear if it was, indeed, a bear attack. George claims he’s got a hunting party set up for the morning. George has David go to the campers who are still there and tell them there will be a meeting in the morning. George tells the campers that because he was likely illegally using his trike off the beaten path so the bear is not a threat to the campers. But he still asks for volunteers to hunt the bear.
Most people leave. The only people to remain are George, David, Cheryl, Tom, Rick, Wendy, Mintz, and Deke. The bikers are still there, so David talks to them and says that they may be stuck there for several days if the road get washed out. The bikers don’t really care. What they do want to do is go find the kid’s trike and strip it for parts. The biker leader thinks there are a few hundred bucks in parts so why not go get it. Plus, they have a gun. They can handle themselves if the bear shows up.
Okay, here’s the deal with Memorial Valley Massacre. Remember I said that this movie has to wait until about the halfway point for something interesting to really happen with the plot? Yeah, this movie is already not so good. Now it’s just kind of meandering. We have a camp full of people with a caveman who is pretty anti-social running about. We think the massacre will likely be the camp people, especially since they are all weird characters who are largely unlikable. There has only been ONE death in this “massacre” and, while it was most appreciated considering that kid was a massive turd, we’re now hunting a bear.
Fine, maybe we have to get our camp of people in a position where they will come up against the feral dude. So they have to think it’s a bear for them to find there’s something a tad more dangerous out there. I guess I can kind of understand that, but we’ve had to shave off cast members just to get the plot started here around the 50-minute mark of a total of 92 minutes. That dumping of characters wasn’t through horror or thriller elements. They just… leave. In some ways, I guess it’s what real people do when a barely functional camp with all sorts of problems seemingly falls apart around them, but it doesn’t work for a movie that should be a little more thrilling or scary.
Then, I guess maybe we have to feel sorry for the caveman dude. He’s the result of an abandoned kidnap victim. That’s unfortunate, so you can feel a little sorry for him. Also, no duh, he’s George’s son and his issues and his whole reason for wanting this particular campsite is because of losing his kid when others bungled the ransom payoff. I can argue that you can have your cake and eat it too. The dude can both be a killer and sympathetic. In a way, if you go all the way back to the origins of Jason Voorhees, he’s a monster but you didn’t want him to become that monster because he was poorly treated by other kids.
So, all that taken into consideration, that makes Memorial Valley Massacre a pretty bad movie. Plus, you have no porno insert shots. Nor do you have anymore Cameron Mitchell. I want to see him 1) wrestle a bear and then 2) deal with that feral kid with nuthin’ but his mitts. But nobody asks me about how to make any awesome movies.
By the way. Look at that picture above of the biker leader on the right there. Doesn’t he look like Glenn Fry? Shit. He’s even wearing a shirt with an eagle on it.
Okay, fine, let’s get into this final act and get the hell out of Memorial Valley, cool? So the two bikers looking for the three-wheeler are lost. The bear hunting party is saddled with Rick and Tom acting like absolute fuckfaces with their rifles and running around and pretending like they are in a war. One of the guys gets hung up by a trap made from vine. David thinks that is quite strange because if it was set by poachers like George says, then why not use rope like a normal person? Once everyone in the hunting party disperses, Deke tells George that he’s gotta realize by now that they shouldn’t be there. There are too many strange things going on and it’s a pretty unsafe place for a lot of people.
While on the hunt for the three-wheeler, the bikers discover the caveman’s home, which so happens to be a cave. They deduce that someone has to live in this cave because of all the stuff strewn about. They find the skeleton of the kidnapper. The caveman comes back and uses his axe to kill the biker leader and chases the other guy out of the cave.
Finally! The heat is on and we have a little bit of that titular massacre! David hears a gunshot from when the caveman attacked the biker leader. He tells George and they round up a party to go find out what that gunshot is. Meanwhile, the other biker is still getting chased by the caveman and he’s much better at running than the biker is. The caveman pushes the biker into a trap of spikes and kills him.
The search party finds the cave and the dead body of the biker leader. David said that the thing behind all the strange stuff was a person all along. David also realizes that George has known all along. It’s the whole reason this camp is here. George says he thinks it is his son, but David is kind of right about saying that who cares… whether it’s his son or not, a person killed that one couple’s kid even if that kid was a total asshole. They send Rick back to warn the rest of the people still at the camp. However, he is found by the caveman and also dumped into the spike trap after being stabbed in the gut by the caveman’s spear.
Okay, so I do realize I’ve been calling this kid a caveman this whole time, but, sure, that’s not really true. He’s not a caveman from ancient times. He is a literal caveman as he does live in a cave, but he’s feral. He figured out a way to make a pelt outfit like a caveman. So I guess making a caveman outfit is just in our DNA. So, yeah, he looks and acts and lives like a caveman. He’s just a feral kid.
Anyway, the feral dude has broken their radio and incapacitated their Jeep, which also means they don’t have that radio either. George and David want to get everyone together at the ranger station. Tom is going to collect Mintz and Wendy and come back. Mintz tells him to tell George to fuck off. That’s when Tom finds the caveman and he gets his end. The caveman then cuts the gas line in Mintz’s camper and when he lights a cigarette, his camper explodes killing him and his wife.
Emily, the old lady of the biker who’s in the spike pit, has wandered off to, I dunno, die. Then, it looks like the next victim will be Wendy and her infinite THO. She sees a bloody hand reach into her tent and she shoots, but it’s Tom stumbling for help. The caveman is there and seemingly tries to romance her but ends up snapping her spine and killing her. Our little feral dude is starting to rack up quite the body count.
Night falls and all the survivors except for Emily have bunkered themselves at the ranger station. Emily almost makes it back to the station but she’s grabbed by the caveman and lifted up into a tree to be killed. Deke runs out to the generator to fuel it so they can have power. He drops the gas can and the caveman brings a torch to and lights it, and Deke, on fire. It’s then asked how much longer before daybreak and Cheryl says it’s 5am and announces that it’s Memorial Day.
As if that means, really, anything.
The caveman commandeers construction equipment and kills the remaining bikers by pushing a car on top of them. The remaining heroes see the caveman and David plans to shoot him, but George stops him. He has David and Cheryl leave while they can. David says they will bring help as soon as possible. The caveman wants George to follow him. As the sun rises, George continues to track behind the caveman but knows he’s also being led to traps which George is able to trip without getting hurt. George finally corners the caveman and he asks if he is indeed his son. When the caveman reveals he has his watch, George approaches, but accidentally steps on a wire that causes a trap of spikes to swing down and stick George in the guts and kills him.
The sheriff asks David to identify George’s body. The sheriff then says they will catch whoever it was that did that to him. David says they can try but they won’t get him. He knows the woods too well. He says he’s closing the park and letting it go back to the wilderness. The caveman watches from the top of a hill as the movie ends.
Memorial Valley Massacre is a bad movie. It takes way too long to get rolling. There’s a nugget of something here with the concept of a defender of nature. That’s particularly something that could work by the late 80s when pollution and other things are becoming more and more of an issue that people wanted to exploit because the “Save the Planet” stuff was pretty popular. But, as I said, the movie has a lot of genre identity issues. That means that the final 30 minutes or so racks up the kill count. So it’s a slow build to a super fast catch-up to make up for not killing people earlier in the movie.
But now we’re going to pack out our trash and call it a day. Enjoy your long weekend, and be sure to be back here in one week as we enter the month of June with a little bit of a plan. We’re going to have a month of sequels… sort of. We’re getting things kicked off with 1983’s Deathstalker. Then, we’re going to catch up with the Vice Academy, before defending ourselves from Killing Birds, before then going back to Vice Academy, and then wrapping up June with Deathstalker II.
Until next week, give a hoot and don’t pollute!