What the FFFFFfffff?

“Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
-Mark Twain, popular misquote

“Don’t let them bury me, I’m not dead.”
-Dennis Alan, The Serpent and the Rainbow

I’ve been fascinated by mysterious creatures like Bigfoot since the day I brought home a library book on the Loch Ness monster and had my mom read it to me. The search for and discussion of unrecognized, out of place, and out of time animals is termed “cryptozoology”. It’s one strand in a larger web of mysteries known variously as unexplained/paranormal phenomena, high strangeness, and Forteana, which also includes such topics as ghosts, hauntings, spontaneous human combustion, psychic powers, religious miracles, objects falling from the sky, loud hums, UFOs, alien abductions, time travel, parallel dimensions, astral projection, and shadow people. Anything outside the understanding of mainstream science. I’m open to pretty much all of it. I’d describe myself as a Bigfoot hopeful, someone who wants to believe, à la Fox Mulder, but admits there is little to no solid proof. I just enjoy reading the stories, watching the videos, and letting my imagination run wild. Was Albert Ostman really carried off and held captive by a Bigfoot in 1924? Did Roger Patterson really film one, dubbed “Patty”, in 1967? I don’t know, but it’s fun to think so.

I used to swear by the Patterson footage. YouTube analyst M.K. Davis has done a remarkable job over the years of enhancing and stabilizing the film, building a strong case for its authenticity. However, some videos betray his hard work, revealing a horizontal rectangular bulge on Patty’s right thigh, what looks like an object under her skin. Once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it or rationalize it. This caused me to rethink everything. Now, I’m 60/40 in favor of Patty being a bloke in a costume. I’m not talking about the bulge lower down by her knee that Davis would have you believe is a gunshot wound. He maintains that Patterson, riding buddy Bob Gimlin, and others were hunting Patty that day. He calls it the Bluff Creek Massacre.

For such creatures to exist, there would obviously need to be a breeding population of hundreds, if not thousands of them, yet they’re commonly referred to as a single, male individual. I’ve always found this odd because Patty, the most famous depiction by far, has prominent breasts (anatomical jargon for tig fuckin’ bitties). I wonder if people with no interest in Bigfoot think we think there’s only one immortal specimen. I assure you, nobody thinks that. What would the plural of “Bigfoot” be anyway? Bigfeet? Bigfoots? Eh, let’s get to the point, shall we?

I was browsing the cryptozoology subreddit the other week, as I often do — for the record, I shave my neck — when I scrolled past a post titled “Addressing the Controversy Over the ‘FFF’ Documentary About Bigfoot”. I didn’t know what that meant, so clicked on it. All it was was a YouTube video. In the video, a man explains how a documentary film crew interviewed him on and off for two years and the project was finally released via Tubi TV as “Foot Finding Feats: Bigfoot Found or Fraud”. That’s a comical amount of alliteration. I don’t like getting F-ed in the mouth that much. The man, Zbigniew “Biggy” Winzig (pronounced Zuh-big-new Vin-zig), claims he received tons of negative feedback as well as concern for his mental health across multiple platforms regarding pictures of Bigfoot he supplied for illustrative purposes, that were never meant to be taken seriously. He created these pictures, he says, by holding a model in front of his TV. Here is one of them:

Credit: Tubi TV

Winzig expresses dissatisfaction over the way he feels he was portrayed. The production was stressful, he argues. He lost it for a while, but stands by what he said and is on medication. In the comments of the Reddit post, one user writes “No one knows who you are”. Another adds “AKA we don’t care”. They’re not wrong, but, damn… they could have been nicer. Gotta love social media.

The promise of a new Bigfoot doc mired in controversy piqued my curiosity, so I fired up the old moviola-majig. If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, stop reading now. The best way to watch it is cold. Many twists and turns lie ahead. I’d hate to spoil them for you.

I could tell right away from the cheap production company logos and amateur editing that FFF:BFoF — Christ, what a mouthful — was going to be very low-budget. It’s also extremely long at two and a half hours. I’m fine with that, just pointing it out for your benefit. Text informs us the filmmakers were looking to produce a Bigfoot documentary and were put in touch with Winzig, a self-professed expert based out of the Harrison Lake region east of Vancouver, British Columbia, a purported Bigfoot hotspot.

It says they were sent one of his YouTube videos, which you can view here. A slightly condensed version plays. It shows him setting up a trail camera then cuts to what it captured — a hairy, black hand grabbing the camera from behind.

Note: I’ve seen it suggested that Bigfoot can sense the infrared light emitted by trail cameras and purposely avoids it. A handy excuse.

This doesn’t look like skin to me.
Credit: YouTube

Why would the arm hair be so long and stringy? Conclusion: a wig draped over a glove.
Credit: YouTube

Like everything else, Bigfooting is a business. There is no shortage of conmen willing to prey on the gullible. This vid alone was enough to convince me that Winzig is one of them. I stuck with the movie out of morbid curiosity, to see if his evidence got more ridiculous. Also, to see if the filmmakers called him out on his bullshit and how he responded.

The next thing we’re shown is footage of the filmmakers’ first meeting with Winzig. He comes off as a paranoid mess. He’s wearing a facemask, sunglasses, & hat, and doing a bad German accent, all to obscure his identity. He’s very concerned about “OpSec”, a term I think he made up meaning “Operation Security”. Basically, he doesn’t want anyone knowing who he is or encroaching on his research area. Why agree to be interviewed then? He quickly drops the facade, volunteering his precious info anyway. The interviewer’s voice has been replaced with an Asian female text-to-speech voice in some parts and removed completely in others, making it seem like Winzig is talking to himself. Tubi lists “Jade Ay Rhenium” as the director.

Never let them know your next move.
Credit: Tubi TV

The movie is broken up into many titled chapters. There is a heavy use of text to explain things. Winzig is handed an NDA, which he comically mistakes for DNA results. He states his intention as a researcher is to obtain irrefutable proof of Bigfoot, leading to its legal recognition and protection. Noble, right? Well, Todd “Fraud” Standing wants the same thing and he’s been exposed as a hoaxer more times than I can count. He even took it so far as to (unsuccessfully) sue the Canadian government. Here’s a link to a great PDF thoroughly debunking two of his photos.

Early on, it becomes apparent that Bigfoot is not the subject of the documentary, Winzig is. Most of the runtime is him seated talking to the camera. Though he frequently butchers the English language, I get the sense that he’s very intelligent. He idolizes local Bigfoot historian John Green. He takes an authoritative and condescending tone. One of the first things he shares with us is that Bigfoot is repelled by cooking smells, especially meat. This mentally transports him back to a crash where he witnessed a woman burning alive. This revelation, in my opinion, is very bad acting. I can’t tell what his motive is just yet for making up such an obvious lie. He states the following as fact about Bigfoot. It:

  • is curious of people
  • is afraid of machinery and technology
  • can smell gunpowder from a mile away
  • is very territorial
  • is not an ape
  • is Gigantopithecus blacki, an extinct species of ape (this is a popular theory)
  • lives all over the world
  • eats fruit, salmon, trout, and possibly deer
  • likes cherry Pez
  • hates mushrooms
  • is nearsighted

After forty minutes, he finally takes us into the woods. He explains an arrangement he has with local nature photographers. They send him GPS-tagged pictures of any footprints they find and he goes and casts them. He then shows off his gifting technique. “Gifting” is the practice of leaving food out for Bigfoot, often with the goal of establishing sustained interaction, known as “habituation”. A major criticism of gifting is that everyday animals such as squirrels and raccoons could be eating the food. Many people who do this end up claiming that Bigfoot speaks to them telepathically (“mindspeak”). When pressed for evidence, they tend to say things like “I know it’s true and that’s all that matters”. The belief that Bigfoot possesses paranormal or supernatural abilities is referred to pejoratively as “woo”. There are two camps in the Bigfoot community — habituators/wooists and the science-minded folks tracking flesh-and-blood creatures.

Credit: WWE

The original woo peddler, as far as I know, was Jack “Kewaunee” Lapseritis. A big one now is Matthew Johnson. Winzig name-drops him toward the end. Johnson is a licensed psychologist who in 2014 supposedly observed a Sasquatch step out of a portal guarded by two Ewok-like creatures. I’m not against such an occurrence in principle, however, Johnson raises a bunch of red flags. He claims to hold all the answers. Be wary of anyone who does this. He’s extremely self-righteous and petty, exhibiting not only a deep-seated need for attention, but authority. He deletes all skeptical and/or even remotely negative comments from his YouTube videos, creating an echo chamber. He reminds me of a cult leader. I can’t tell if he’s consciously hoaxing, or really believes all this stuff.

According to him, there are three kinds of Bigfeet… Bigfoots? — Xanue, Treykon, and Xuxiko. Xanue are invisible light beings. A family of them appears to him regularly. He doesn’t even have to go out in the woods anymore. After Johnson’s top-secret habituation area was located by archenemy Steven Streufert, the family conveniently began to appear in his living room. According to his website, they “are able to cloak, read through memories, engage in mind speak (i.e., telepathic communication), immobilize and heal people, shapeshift, transform from flesh and blood into orb form and vice versa, and so much more.”

The Treykon are extraterrestrials that were brought here as slave miners by another, more advanced race of extraterrestrials. This is a spin on the “ancient alien” theory advanced by Erich von Däniken, Zechariah Sitchin, Lloyd Pye, and others. In the version I know, Bigfoot is the natural evolution of man, whereas we were gene-spliced from their DNA and alien DNA to mine gold that was crushed into tiny flecks and used to repair the aliens’ ozone back home.

Lastly, the Xuxiko are malevolent, supernatural beings, the opposite of the Xanue. It’s basically angels, Bigfeet, and demons with extra steps. Johnson suffered a traumatic brain injury many years ago, which explains a lot. For me, it’s not the demons that are scary, it’s the fact that Johnson is still seeing patients. You can watch his insane videos at TeamSquatchinUSA on YouTube.

Credit: The Labyrinth, Columbia TriStar Home Video DVD

To Winzig’s credit, he seems more concerned with collecting hair and saliva samples than developing an intimate relationship with Bigfoot. He leaves cherry Pez at his gifting sites, wrapper and all, as a reference to Stand By Me. Despite his efforts, he obtains little actual evidence. At one point, he finds a “bezoar”, or wad of undigested material similar to an owl pellet, but from something much bigger. He never sends it for analysis, though, citing cost as the issue. I’m with you, man. Shit’s expensive these days. Beyond that, he holds various DNA results and declassified FBI documents up to the camera, but that’s about it.

At fifty-five minutes, it tells us the crew lost contact with Winzig for two months. During this time, they received an email from a hacker representing Anonymous. Or something called “Irregular”. The hacker claimed to have accessed private content (mostly videos) on Winzig’s website, bigfootfinder.ca, proving he hoaxed footprints and sold castings on the dark web. I don’t get why Winzig would document the whole process. A month later, the hacker sent them an image of a missing poster with Winzig on it. The team called the number and a day later received a voicemail from Winzig’s concerned mother stressing that he needs to be taking his meds.

Credit: Tubi TV

Shortly after the two parties reconnect, Winzig starts to unravel. He says he’s been tentatively diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. Every time we see him he looks different. Shaggy hair, short hair, full beard, goatee, clean shaven, glasses, no glasses, a variety of hats. Intentional or not, the constant change in appearance feeds into the idea that he has multiple personalities. He denies hoaxing anything. He later drunkenly admits to fudging some of his evidence. He starts making really wild claims. For example, there is a coordinated effort to discredit him. The videos of him hoaxing are deep-fakes created by YouTube researchers, Reddit goons, and/or a contract killer. He’s in the witness protection program because he witnessed a murder and testified against the gunman. The text-to-speech voice whispers “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” Winzig totally no-sells it. What is going on?

He now believes most conspiracy theories, even ones that contradict the rest. A nearby government research center is doing something nefarious with Sasquatch DNA. All the giants from mythology were based on Bigfoot. Skeletons sent to the Smithsonian are hidden away “like the end of the Indiana Jones movie”, as part of some grand coverup. Bigfoot is an extraterrestrial who got stranded here on Earth. The Ancient Greeks built him the Antikythera Mechanism to help him get home. The Antikythera Mechanism is a real artifact recovered from a shipwreck often deemed too advanced for its time. It’s one of those ancient mysteries akin to the pyramids and the Nazca Lines. Conversely, Bigfoot was placed here to keep an eye on us.

Next, Winzig brings werewolf lore into the mix. There are human-Sasquatch hybrids running around Quebec with a rare gene disorder called “rougarou”. Upon consuming human flesh, they transform into full-on beasts. He even manages to tie in rhnull blood, the rarest blood type, shared by forty people. He momentarily mistakes The Planet of the Apes for reality (!), but catches himself.

After an especially uncomfortable interview session in Winzig’s home, the movie tells us three crew members were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning! Hold up, he’s trying to kill them now? That’s a bit hard to swallow.

I made the mistake of researching the film partway through. If I’d hung around til the end, my questions would have been answered. I noticed that Winzig created his website in November of 2020, a YouTube channel in April of 2021, and a Facebook page in May of this year. There’s no record of him online as a Bigfoot researcher or otherwise prior to that. His website is littered with Amazon affiliate links, so he’s clearly trying to profit off this. Production of the documentary commenced in April, 2021, meaning he’d only been involved in the field a few months by the time he was contacted. I have to question this. I don’t see how the team would have known about Winzig or why they would have chosen someone with so little experience. I went through his post history on Reddit. This was very revealing.

Credit: Reddit

There is no Jade. There is no crew. There isn’t even a Winzig. It’s all a performance by one man. This put things into perspective for me. It allowed me to see the movie as a parody of the journey of a Bigfoot researcher. What happens to some of them, I think, is that they have a genuine, unexplainable experience that changes their whole perception of things. They spend years trying and failing to produce evidence of what they know to be true. Eventually, they resort to hoaxing, and finally descend into madness.

Winzig also posted this hilarious image of Todd Standing in a camo jacket with a store security tag on it. Did he steal it, like he does people’s money? What a fucking clown.

As the movie goes on, Winzig tumbles further and further down the proverbial rabbit hole, weaving more and more conspiracy theories into his worldview. He literally wears a tinfoil hat at one point. He gets into his history of mental illness. He says he became socially withdrawn in the 90s and stayed inside his apartment for an entire year. He also experimented heavily with drugs. At an hour forty-eight minutes, he describes telltale signs of schizophrenia.

“It’s weird how it creeps up on you slowly. First, it’s some weird noises you hear at random. Over time, you hear a knock or a doorbell. And then you hear your name. And then you hear a phrase. And then you hear a sentence. And then you’re answering. And then it’s telling you things you should do. It happens so slowly you don’t notice it’s not normal.” There are eerie sounds underscoring the dialogue. It’s funny, I know it’s fake and I still feel sorry for the guy. He must be a good actor.

My favorite scene comes toward the end. It’s this movie’s version of the chalkboard scene from Back to the Future Part II. It takes a cool, complicated idea and explains it in a fun, understandable way. Winzig compares time to a vinyl record. He asks us to imagine that the point the needle is touching is the present. Everything before that is the past. Everything yet to be played is the future. He then asks us to imagine that the record extends forever horizontally, all the way around. That’s our universe. Now place an infinite pile of records on top. Those are alternate universes. He calls the sum of these alternate universes “alternity”. He warns us that Bigfoot and aliens can step into any point in the stack they so choose. They are “sidesteppers”. He’s hit bottom. He’s in Wonderland now. He gets really worked up and chants a mantra to calm down. Tubi translates the Latin words to “Our monster, our god, Bigfoot.”

Is that a shower curtain hung sideways?
Credit: Tubi TV

The last half hour or so is footage recovered by a family member of him camping in the woods. He injures an ankle and is pursued by three Bigfeet. There is a single lousy “effect” of a Bigfoot teleporting. It’s one of his dolls superimposed over the image. Besides that, nothing is shown. You have to use your imagination. This is followed by another shot of his missing poster, implying he died. The final moments are clips of him from every interview segment announcing to the camera that… “It was just me with a bunch of cheap cameras and a laptop talking to myself alone.”

What I assumed was a straightforward Bigfoot documentary turned into an exploitation of mental illness, ended up as a found footage horror movie, and upon closer inspection is a mockumentary. What a ride. It kept me guessing, kept me on my toes. It’s not a “great” movie by any means, but it’s quite impressive considering it was made by one person. By the sounds of it, this was just a project he started during Lockdown that grew from there. I didn’t accomplish shit during Lockdown. Then again, I still went to work everyday.

Looking back, this means the initial video I saw of him addressing the dolls was done in character. The fact that he had to address them at all is disappointing. I thought it was obvious, given the twists at the end, that Foot Finding Feats is a work of fiction. There’s even a notice in place of credits that explicitly says it is. I messaged Winzig to set the record straight.

“Biggy, just wanted to let you know I enjoyed the film.” I wrote. “Am I correct in thinking this is a character you play and that the film is a mockumentary? Do you also consider yourself a legitimate Bigfoot researcher, or was the website and such just part of the experience, leading into the film [like an ARG]?”

“It started as an interest in Bigfoot because of where I live.” Winzig replied. “The mockumentary happened next. I’m not legit. Just a filmmaker who enjoys the world of Bigfoot. But I did do two years of tracking and learning to make plaster casts, so I guess I’m an amateur? Thanks for your kind comments.”

There you have it.

I love this pair of comments from his site.
Credit: Bigfootfinder.ca

Welcome to the Madhouse

If I really cared about traffic, I would have spent the month posting reviews of the newest mainstream horror movies with clever titles like “Orphan Prequel Comes Up Short”. I would have told you the Hellraiser reboot is worth a watch, despite its arbitrary decision to turn Pinhead female, and that Halloween Ends is a huge improvement over Halloween Kills, which isn’t saying much. Or, perhaps I would have taken part in one of those annual viewing challenges and covered 31 classics. But that’s not what this blog is about. It’s half about my old favorites, half about the obscure, brain melting stuff others neglect, since that’s what I enjoy watching these days. The tagline at the top is “adoring reviews of egregious cult, exploitation, and horror movies.” I chose the word “egregious” because according to Google and Oxford, it carries the contradictory double meaning of “shockingly bad” and “remarkably good”, and the movies I speak of qualify as both. Todd Sheets has been a reliable source of bad-good entertainment for me as of late, so let’s see what else he’s got. Hmm, his 1991 effort Edgar Allan Poe’s Madhouse has zero external reviews on IMDb. Perfect.

Todd Sheets is the George Lucas of SOV horror in the sense that he alters many of his early works out of a misguided need to improve them, not that he fathered a child at 69 with a woman young enough to be his daughter. Based on how wrong the Cinema Home Video VHS blurb is, it seems the version of Madhouse I pulled up on YouTube in glorious 240p, likely ripped from the DVD set “Decrepit Crypt of Nightmares”, is also a re-edit. At this point, I’m just assuming every old movie of his that I watch is a re-edit. I believe, no matter the budget, original versions of movies should be kept in rotation, just as art is preserved, for history’s sake. Offering them alongside “Director’s cuts” and “unrated editions” is fine, but outright replacing them leads to confusion and outrage. In this case especially, the changes perplex me. I can’t imagine what came before being any more of a mess than what we’ve got here. As it stands, Madhouse is a 4-part anthology written, directed, and hosted by “the king of SOV” that falsely claims to be based upon stories written by Edgar Allan Poe. At most, two of the segments were shot expressly for the movie, and have fuck-all to do with the esteemed author. The others are shorts from years earlier. It’s amazing just how little effort went into this thing, and how misleading it is. For that reason, it might be my favorite Sheets movie yet. Join me as I take a look.

The credits are the first sign that something is wrong. As always, they’re completely unprofessional and full of stupid in-jokes. This time, they even contain a few errors. For example, a “Kim Adler” is listed alongside Kim Alber and many of Sheets’ regular actors. I can only assume the former is a misspelling of the latter that somehow got left in. Furthermore, Charles Monroe is listed but does not appear. The opposite goes for Mike Hellman.

The opening theme is recycled from Nightmare Asylum. It’s not long enough, so it stops and starts over. Casting is credited to “Eddy Poe”, who’d been dead for 142 years. Writing was done by Roger Williams, a pseudonym Sheets often used, as well as a cop in his movie Dominion.

Sheets introduces the first segment. He tells us that it’s a vampire story, killing all hope of suspense. A quick Google search reveals that Poe never wrote any vampire stories. Sheets is wearing a black cape and reading a book to an object that’s either a lamp or a Halloween mask on a stand. “I’ll be back when it’s over to make sure you’re still alive.” he says with entirely too much confidence. He could have at least perched a crow on his shoulder.

Mike Hellman and Deric Bernier are seated on a sidewalk in front of an oil drum, passing a bottle of whisky, shouting unintelligibly about the 60s. Matthew Lewis stumbles into view and falls over. He drunkenly wrestles Bernier. Bernier gets up and walks to a train crossing. Jenny Admire beckons him to the side of a building. She kneels before him, then turns into this:

Pictured: a vampire.

RIP Bernier’s dick. Lewis rolls onto his back like a turtle. He announces a bum owes him money, gets up, and wanders off toward the same building Bernier did. We can see the cameraman’s thumb for a second. Lewis staggers past Admire. He slurs “put it in reverse” and backs up to hit on her. Admire says nothing, just does the come here gesture. Take 2. Lewis repeats his line and backs up again. Admire kills him.

Finally, Admire walks up to Hellman and starts rubbing his neck. She stops to unbutton her blouse while Hellman screams “Ow yeah!” Don’t get your dicks out, it’s only a tease. She continues rubbing his neck with her side to us now. The camera slowly rises from her feet. Admire whips toward our POV wearing this giant, ridiculous mask:

If all she does is suck blood, why the gaping maw?

Bobby Westrick opens a door. Two detectives step in. One is played by Mike Hellman, investigating his own death. The other is played by Chuck Cannon. Hellman’s character is named Johnathan Killraven, after a lesser known Marvel superhero. The partners explain how they followed a trail of blood to the building. Westrick is using a distinguished European accent. He denies any wrongdoing, claiming he’s only a tenant. The coppers take him at his word that he lives there, even though the building is unfurnished and falling apart. Westrick invites the men in to look around. Jenny Admire, Tonia Monahan, Kim Alber, and Veronica Orr watch on from the shadows while posing seductively.

Admire knocks on a door. Westrick bursts out surrounded by fog. He commands the women to kill the old cop, referring to Cannon, and turn the young one into a vampire. The partners split up. Hellman enters a room full of junk and is grabbed by the women. Monahan closes the door as he screams bloody murder. Cannon desperately tries to get in for twenty-three seconds, then leaves.

The lighting inside his apartment is pink and blue. This is where the out of place footage added to the end of Dominion originates. I want to know what happened between this scene and the last. Did he at least stop at the station and tell his superior about the attack, or just head straight home, pretending it didn’t happen? You’d never guess watching Dominion that Cannon’s partner was met with foul play moments earlier. He looks like he’s coming home from a tough but otherwise normal day on the job.

He sees one of the women behind him in his bathroom mirror. They disappear as he turns around. “I must be losing it.” he mutters. He sits down and turns on his TV. The image on the screen is of Admire beckoning him. It won’t turn off. He tells himself that he’s losing it two more times. Nothing phases this guy. He lies down in bed. Admire and Monahan appear next to him, sporting normal vampire fangs. They lick and bite him, without turning into giant-mouthed monsters. The end. I would not be surprised to learn that the portion with the hobos was originally unrelated to the portion with the cops.

Pictured: losing it.

Sheets rolls his eyes and dismissively flails his hand at the clown face like it’s saying something ridiculous to him. “Ah, back so soon?” he asks, noticing us. “What you’ve just seen is a small, horrifying story about vampires. But, what about werewolves? Do you have a fear of werewolves in the dark, dank forest? Well, if you do, this next story is right up your alley… because this one is all about werewolves.” Wouldn’t having a fear of werewolves mean it’s not up our alley? By the way, Poe never wrote any werewolf stories either.

Jenny Admire and Kim Alber break down on the side of the road. They hike off into the woods. Mike Hellman advises them to watch out for a wolf that’s been mutilating his cattle. A wolfman attacks him. The women don’t see it. A minute later, the wolfman attacks them. They run back to their car, where they encounter a man wearing the same clothes as the wolfman. They frantically tell him how a monster just killed a guy, even though they have no way of knowing that, and plead with him to fix their car as fast as he can. The man leans over their engine. He turns around with a wolfman face.

Sheets informs us the next segment is titled “Dead Things” and hypes it up as a “heapin’ helpin’ of hellbent hillbilly hospitality”. It’s an old short from 1986. A newly edited version appears in the compilation set Sheets of Gore put out by SRS Cinema, streaming on Tubi TV. Sheets remade it as a full-fledged movie in 1997. Confusingly, an IMDb user applied the VHS cover of the remake to the short, making it seem like the short was issued by itself at some point.

A hillbilly emerges from a dilapidated shack. There are pieces of wood strewn all over the ground. It’s early Spring or late Fall as there are no leaves on the trees. The man’s cheeks are black and white in some shots. It could be dirt, a painted-on beard, or residue from an effect we see later. He says “here boy” and slaps his thigh like he’s calling a dog. Clouds of dust shoot off his overalls. His braindead son comes running out of the shack. There’s no way he didn’t just see him in there. It’s half the size of my dining room. The son, who I’ll refer to as Junior, is seemingly unable to straighten his spine or stand still for more than a second. I hate the way he says “Daddeh”.

Showing zero emotion, the father announces, “They done killed your baby brother, boy.”

Junior doesn’t care. “City slickers?” he asks.

“Hyeahp…” the father replies with a big wad of chewing tobacco in his mouth. “Killing time is here.” The thought of it brings a smile to his face. He lets loose a burst of redneck laughter.

“Who we gonna kill, Daddeh?”

Are you serious? He just… he just told you a moment ago. City slickers. I feel like we missed the beginning. Why are we already halfway through this story?

Five kids who can’t be much older than eighteen are walking down a trail. They fight and tease each other so much that you wonder why they’re friends. There’s a girl with a backpack, a sassy girl, a mulleted playboy, a scrawny mullethead, and a guy with an obvious mental or social disability. The mulleted playboy says he’d rather be cruising for hookers. The guy with the disability claims he once hired Morgan Fairchild as a hooker for $10. The others call him a liar. Junior spies on them from the weeds. Disabled Guy hears him and tries to warn the group that it’s Bigfoot, who he spotted before with his dad.

Junior excitedly tells Daddeh that five people are camping nearby. I didn’t see any tents. Daddeh asks what they’re doing. Camping! Christ, don’t either of them listen? Daddeh grabs a rifle and axe. He and Junior head the kids off. Gun raised, he shouts, “Don’t you know this ain’t private?! It’s not for you!” If it ain’t private, it’s public, meaning you have no authority, numbnuts.

Junior is hunched over like this pretty much the whole time.
Credit: Sheets of Gore, Tubi TV

Backpack Girl calmly tells him they’re on a hike from the Miskatonic Mental Health Center (Miskatonic University of course being the setting of the 1985 classic Re-Animator).

Daddeh identifies her as the one who took his baby’s life. It’s safe to assume he’s mistaken and crazy. He gives the hikers a chance to leave before shooting. Why the warning? I thought killing time was here. There are people standing by cars in the background. It’s probably where everyone parked.

Junior tauntingly shoves a baseball bat in Backpack Girl’s face. Daddeh says “Get back, boy, or you’re gonna be next on my list.” If he follows through with that threat, then, by his logic, he’ll have to kill himself too.

The friends scatter. Junior runs down Scrawny Mullethead and drags him to the shack, where Daddeh is waiting. They strangle him with a rope, kick his keister, and tie him up. Daddeh demands to know who caused the death of his baby. He previously said it was Backpack Girl. What changed? I’ve seen enough horror movies to know that whatever Scrawny Mullethead says, it won’t lead to his release. Sure enough, he’s eliminated. Daddeh chops off one of his legs at the knee.

By now, the other four hikers have realized that Scrawny Mullethead is missing. They agree to sit down in the middle of the path until he shows up. Disabled Guy mentions that his uncle was Babe Ruth. Nobody buys it. He storms off in anger. Junior sneaks up behind him and nudges him with his bat. Disabled Guy fishes for sympathy, claiming his friends hate him and aren’t his friends anymore because they never believe his tall tales.

“They hate you? Why?” Junior asks. “Can I kill ya?”

Disabled Guy answers no and without missing a beat uses the bat as a way of steering the conversation toward Babe Ruth.

I love how casually Junior sneaks in “Can I kill ya?” and how it fails to register with Disabled Guy. Did Junior really think that would work? This brief exchange is one of my favorite parts of the movie. It’s edited out of the higher-quality Sheets of Gore version on Tubi. Hand over the tapes, Mr. Sheets. You can’t be trusted.

Junior smacks Disabled Guy across the face with his bat, then tells him to go. As soon as Disabled Guy runs, Junior hollers “Hey! Where’re you going?” 😂 The dialogue is hilariously stupid. I’m here for it. Junior eventually catches up and bludgeons the poor guy until he convulses. “Now that one’s outta the ballpark.” he giggles.

The remaining hikers walk toward the shack. They’re horrified to see a dead baby lying on the ground. Backpack Girl falls at Daddeh’s feet. Her friends ditch her. Daddeh says “No, fuck you.” in response to nothing. He swings a claw hammer into her throat. While she gurgles and dies, he adds “Fuck me? Fuck you.” — again, in response to nothing. Man, that comment nobody made really offended him. In the Sheets of Gore version, Backpack Girl leads off with a defiant “fuck you”. Fans refer to this controversial change as “BG fucked first”.

Mulleted Playboy returns, picks up a knife, and shanks Daddeh. Daddeh pretends to be hurt. Then, he laughs and retaliates. He says you can’t kill somebody who’s already dead, turning this story supernatural.

Credit: Sheets of Gore, Tubi TV

Credit: Sheets of Gore, Tubi TV

Credit: Sheets of Gore, Tubi TV

Sassy Girl makes a break for it. She follows railroad tracks for a while, but somehow winds up back where she started. These woods are inescapable. They’re like Gatlin or Springwood in Freddy’s Dead. Daddeh retrieves a dead baby from a culvert. Apparently there are two. Junior drags Sassy Girl to the shack, saying he needs a new mommy at home. Daddeh suddenly has big, crusty prosthetic lips. He pushes the baby toward Sassy Girl. It coos like it’s actually alive. Fade to black.

Fast-forward a few years. Daddeh is back to his old self. He’s bent over hitting a branch with a hammer. Junior is doing the same with his bat. “Boy, what are you doin’?” Daddeh growls.

“I’m cuttin’ wood, Daddeh.” With a bat? I—

Sassy Girl walks up, cradling the baby. She kisses its forehead.

“You know what?” Daddeh starts “I just love my family!”

They all embrace as the camera zooms into a bag stuck in a tree. Finally, a happy ending. Wow, this plot makes so little sense once all the details emerge. Here it is, boiled down: demonic hillbilly seeks revenge against innocent teens for the death of his still-living baby, yet all he wants is a wife.

Speaking of boiling, a slutty witch is now stirring a brew. “Oh, hello. Did you like that last story?” she asks. Where are we? Who is this woman? What did she do with Todd Sheets? She delivers a brief hostage statement in which she throws to another old short titled “Gone But Not Forgotten”. A newly edited version of this one can also be seen in Sheets of Gore.

Three friends are wandering around an abandoned “town”. To me, it looks like one of those “living history” sites where they reenact Colonial farm life. Zombies charge out of a cellar. One has a machete and wields it effectively. What’s interesting about these zombies is that they don’t consume human flesh, they kill for the sport of it. One character is slashed above the knee and apparently dies from it. Another takes shelter in a small, rickety structure that’s more screen than wood. His intestines are ripped out and his brains are bashed in. Does the final girl survive? Tune in and find out.

Credit: Sheets of Gore, Tubi TV

Credit: Sheets of Gore, Tubi TV

The movie concludes with a fat Elvis lookalike doing a sales pitch directly into the camera. He’s standing in the street, wearing a skin mask, holding a chainsaw. He brags about how the woman next to him gives it to him hard and fast, then rattles off his company’s slogan “Come to Tom’s Meat Market! You stab ’em, we slab ’em! You kill ’em, we chill ’em!”

Edgar Allan Poe’s Madhouse, everybody.

There is no central theme or gimmick linking these segments beyond groups of people wandering into danger. They span a period of four or five years and vary greatly in quality and length. The shortest is #2 at 5½ minutes. The longest is #3 at 25½ minutes. As you can tell from my overview, 1 and 3 have the most meat on their bones, whereas 3 and 4 I’d say show the most promise and offer the best gore effects.

The end credits divide the actors into three sections, making me think there were three segments originally. The middle section lists characters named “Mr. Usher” and “Mrs. Usher”, presumably in reference to Poe’s famous short story The Fall of the House of Usher. This means the only segment with any kind of connection to Poe was removed 👏

Let’s talk about the Cinema Home Video VHS box. The cover has two images. The top half is a photo of a silly looking corpse made of spray foam wearing a top hat. The bottom half is a poorly cut-out illustration of an imp yanking cables out of a man’s temple. Neither image, needless to say, appears in the movie. Text clearly states there are three tales of terror. The blurb on the back may as well be describing a different movie. It reads:

First up is the story of a lonely man who thinks he’s found the girl of his dreams. Unfortunately for him, she’s found the meal of her dreams… Someone she can really sink her fangs into! Next up, a group of winos find out how bad booze can really enlighten your life. Lastly, a young stripper shows her true colors to a fan by the light of the full moon.

The first two descriptions could loosely apply to the first segment. The last one sounds like a werewolf story, but not the one in the movie. None of them describe The Fall of the House of Usher. There is no mention at all of “Dead Things” or “Gone But Not Forgotten”.

I’m running long so I’ll wrap this up. Nothing I say can prepare you for how mystifying this clip show of unrelated nonsense really is. It has to be seen to be believed. Take a look for yourself. The only way to stream it right now is on YouTube.

David DeCoteau: (calling from his Corvette, circa 1991) “Todd, good news, I got your movies Zombie Rampage and Nightmare Asylum onto video store shelves, but there’s still demand for more product. Do you have anything else?

Todd Sheets: (nervously) “Anything else? Uhm, well, I, uh… I mean, yeah, duh, of course I do. I’ll bring it by tomorrow.” (spends fifteen minutes cobbling Madhouse together)

CKY, Return to Sleepaway Camp, and the Goat

When I was a kid, my mom allowed me to watch horror movies where people effed and were killed — in some instances, at the same time — because she enjoyed them, but nothing with an obscene sense of humor, like South Park. As a parent myself now, I realize what a weird stance that is. Maybe she felt horror condemned sex and violence, whereas comedy glorified it, made it seem cool. I don’t know. Even wrestling was banned for a short while at the height of the “Attitude Era”. I blame the crotch chopping, as well as the chopping of crotches. My mom never saw the stuff she forbade. She heard about it from other women at church. She was very easily influenced and went through these fleeting religious awakenings where she cracked down on horror, purging our house of things that she deemed ungodly, including the odd VHS and my Magic: the Gathering cards (they promote sorcery!), before easing back to her previous ways. To my relief, she gave up on saving our souls altogether when I was around twelve and just let me do whatever, within reason. Until then, she couldn’t control what I did at my friends’ houses. So, I watched South Park anyway.

I lived next door to a kid who was two grades ahead of me and had three older brothers of varying repute. I thought they were cool. Legend has it, the oldest brother once dragged a Christmas tree under a stranger’s car and lit it on fire just to watch the explosion. I later learned that he was an addict who went to prison on various charges. He passed away suddenly in his late 30s after getting his shit together, leaving behind a young daughter. I’ll never forget when he jokingly invited my brother to shoot people at the mall.

My friend eventually stopped coming by to party with kids his own age. After high school, he joined the Army and served in Afghanistan. He moved away as soon as he could. Last I heard third-hand from my mom, he was dealing with substance abuse issues. I hope he’s getting the help that he needs.

The brother we all thought was the weirdest turned out to be the most well-adjusted. He came out as gay, got married, and, as far as I know, is doing just fine.

Those guys introduced me to lots of angsty hardcore music and equally hardcore pornography. They got me into Atreyu, From Autumn to Ashes, Thrice, and other “screamo” bands. What a phase that was. The X-rated material included issues of Playboy, a Girls Gone Wild VHS, and that horrifying tape they found in their mom’s dresser called Hard & Kinky #30-something (or was it 40-something?) featuring guys with fake garden hose dicks that my friend swore were real, an unfortunate fellow with a natural dick that hooked ninety degrees to the left, and a woman trying her damnedest to make use of the girthiest dildo I’ve ever laid eyes on. The studio that produced this monstrosity was “Leisure Time”. I encourage you to figure out exactly which one I saw and reply with the number. It’s been bugging me.

One of the funnier, non-pornographic things they showed me was the four-part CKY video series, starring the titular band and their friends doing skateboard tricks, stupid stunts, pranks, and skits. These videos were directed by Bam Margera, using one of those fisheye skateboarding cameras, and served as the blueprint for MTV’s Jackass. The bit that stands out the most in my head is the “Skeletor vs. Beastman” song. It taught me that Beastman has AIDs and that he plans on spreading it into every good boy and girl today. You may also be interested to know that he is incapable of taking his furry fur off because it’s made of fur. Yes, the humor is juvenile, but I remember the videos fondly.

I miss those days. I think we all wish we could recapture the magic and wonder we felt as preteens, back when the world was our oyster. That’s why coming-of-age stories hit us so hard. They remind us how easy we had it, how fun life was, before the cold, hard reality of existence set in.

Looking back, CKY the band was one of the better acts of the early-to-mid 2000s. I’m no expert on them, I just like a lot of their songs, most of which turned out to be from their major label debut, Infiltrate Destroy Rebuild (you never knew if the songs you downloaded from Limewire were titled correctly, let alone what album they came from). CKY was a three-piece from West Chester, Pennsylvania consisting of frontman/primary songwriter Deron Miller, guitarist Chad Ginsburg, and drummer Jess Margera, Bam’s older brother. They had catchy riffs and a unique sound owing to the fact that Miller removes the bottom two strings from all his guitars and replaces the G with a wound G. Their music is best categorized as “alternative rock” but was fully embraced by the punk/stoner/skateboarder crowd because of their association with Bam and his merry band of ass jackers. Miller departed or was fired in late 2011, depending on who you believe. He briefly rejoined, then departed for good in 2015. Ginsburg and Margera still use the CKY name. Miller currently records as 96 Bitter Beings.

Something I took notice of as a youngster was CKY’s connection to horror. For one, the name used to be an initialism for “Camp Kill Yourself”, in tribute to camp slasher movies. The full name was quietly dropped as they gained mainstream attention, similar to how WWE no longer stands for “World Wrestling Entertainment”. Miller is a huge horror fan and his lyrics reflect that. I can’t be the only one who hears “Attached at the Hip” and thinks Basket Case, in which Siamese twin brothers are surgically separated against their will. Ok, I very well could be. I view everything through Basket Case-tinted lenses. More substantively, CKY’s signature song, “96 Quite Bitter Beings”, off their first album, Volume 1, is about a group of friends who stop in the fictional town of Hellview and are set upon by its murderous residents. Here it is with the lyrics:

With my perceptions in a mix down twenty miles through the sticks
To the cloudy town of Hellview, population: 96
Excessive vacancy, well maybe, in the shadow of an eye
All the strangers passing through and where the rules just don’t apply

At the fork turn left, a store, but on the right stay free from sight
Cause 96 quite bitter beings like to stack the bodies high
The only way to ever leave is overflooded by the storm
And entanglement in Hellview brings you fear in fifty forms
They’ve deleted all the tourists at the bottom of the lake
And not one supports the cause to leave the blood stay in the veins

Here, three miles back is where we are
All we ever wanted was an answer
Civilized are close but way too far
All we ever wanted was an answer

Footprints giving clue to where we are
All we ever wanted was an answer
Civilized are close but way too far
All we ever wanted

That riff is monstrous. The last line of the second verse, “And not one supports the cause to leave the blood stay in the veins”, doesn’t strike me as proper English, but for that reason is memorable. The story continues in “Escape From Hellview”. The friends build a fire as night falls. After it dies, they’re chased off into the darkness. The narrator avoids being hung, but his friends aren’t so lucky. While running away, he assures himself “If it’s the last thing I will do, I’ll be the one that will escape from Hellview.”

The fire dies on its own, leaving us to ourselves but not exactly alone
I think that something is out there waiting, anticipation has grown
The air as black as can be, can’t even see that my hand is in front of me
I’m overhearing a whisper, “They won’t escape until the blood is set free”

So turn back, the silence is deafening
Turn back, don’t let them see you again
They make the rounds at the midnight hour
And on the clock it’s just a minute away

So we’re hours awake and our only mistake is we bleed
And the hunger for the living helps them hunt it with the greatest of ease

Now I’m finding my friends, hanging from trees, made a bed of a barbed wire fence
I’m on the loose with my neck in the noose, but hey, I enjoy the intense

Turn back, the silence is deafening
Turn back, don’t let them see you again
They make the rounds at the midnight hour
And on the clock it’s just a minute away

So we’re hours awake and our only mistake is we bleed
When the hunger for the living helps them hunt it with the greatest of ease

No experience could ever match the sight of when is a person is through
If it’s the last thing I will do, I’ll be the one that will escape from Hellview
And I will!

“I enjoy the intense” (“intense” being the accepted spelling) is another weird lyric. It’s grammatically incorrect too. Plus, the notion that our narrator could find any kind of enjoyment in a situation where his friends have been killed and he’s running for his life is rather hard to believe.

I recently found out there is a third entry forming a trilogy. That entry is “Hellions on Parade” off Carver City, a concept album set in a sinister fishing town not unlike Hellview. Look it up if you’re curious. I don’t care for anything after An Answer Can Be Found. Hellview is first mentioned in “Thanks For the Ride” (which was likely titled in reference to Creepshow 2) by Miller and Margera’s previous band, Oil.

But wait, the connection gets even stronger. Miller is married to the child star of Sleepaway Camp, Felissa Rose. He used her iconic snarling face as the cover of the 1999 single Disengage the Simulator. Miller literally paused the movie and took a picture of his TV. He was put in touch with Rose when he heard Return to Sleepaway Camp was starting production and the rest is history. They have three children together.

Credit: Magnet DVD

Return to Sleepaway Camp is what the kids these days call a “requel”. It was filmed in 2003 in New York by original writer/director/producer Robert Hiltzik and features original cast members. It disregards all the previous sequels and picks up twenty years after Part 1. I’ve read that officially it was a remake, because Hiltzik only retained remake rights. I’ve also read that it wasn’t, because the sequel rights had reverted back to him many years earlier. So, I’m not sure what to believe. If anyone knows how to navigate those legal waters, it’s Hiltzik, a practicing lawyer.

Return began taking shape after Jeff Hayes, the webmaster of sleepawaycampmovies.com, tracked down Jonathan Tiersten, then Rose, then Hiltzik, then others, and organized a reunion for the 2001 Fangoria Weekend of Horrors. Motivated by all the newfound attention/support, Hiltzik dusted off an old script titled Sleepaway Camp 2 that he wrote and shopped back in ’86, and reworked it to include a few familiar faces. It materialized in time to ride the momentum of Anchor Bay’s Sleepaway Camp “Survival Kit” box set and tie in with the twentieth anniversary of his original, the irony being it took five years to come out. The good news is, they made the twenty-fifth anniversary.

Me, waiting.
Credit: Magnet DVD

I was disappointed to learn that it wouldn’t be starring Pamela Springsteen of Parts 2 and 3, who I felt was the stronger, superior Angela. I’ve since come to appreciate Rose’s version of the character. Warning! Everybody deserves to see the original unspoiled once. If you haven’t, click away now! Spoilers ahead!

Newspaper clippings shown during the opening credits inform us that Camp Arawak has been reopened as Camp Manabe by someone named Frank Kostic (Vincent Pastore, The Sopranos) and surviving head counselor Ronnie (Paul DeAngelo, reprising his role). Kostic was the last name of the previous owner, suggesting he and Frank are related. Manabe can be rearranged to read “Be a Man”, the title of “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s rap album, as well as an obvious reference to the shocking end of Part 1, where shy little Angela Baker is not only revealed to be the killer, but a biological male. For this entry, her last name is Thomas.

Isaac Hayes, the famous songwriter who voiced Chef on South Park, plays the chef in his final film role. A tiny sheriff hangs around to give talks on the dangers of smoking. He wears sunglasses 24/7 and speaks with a voicebox, like Ned Gerblanski.

Credit: Magnet DVD, southpark.fandom.com

The movie kicks off with shirtless boys lighting their farts in a cabin. Main character Alan (Michael Gibney) walks in. He’s twice their size and could eat them. He makes fun of someone named Pee-Pee for wetting his bed, threatens to punch him, and takes his lighter. When he fails to light an emission as big as his bunkmates’, he grabs an aerosol can and shoots flames at them.

In the dining hall the next morning, Alan makes a big stink about how bad he thinks the food is. Dickhead counselor Randy wrestles him to the ground for not eating his chicken. Ronnie breaks up the fight and allows Alan to get something else from the kitchen. Ronnie is every bit as fit as he was in the first film, like they froze him or went back in time to retrieve him. Assistant cook Mickey gives Alan a choice of egg salad or tuna salad. Alan instead grabs an ice cream sandwich. This angers Mickey, who throws eggs at Alan. Alan sells them like gunshots and gets highly emotional. He retaliates by throwing a knife, which embeds in the wall a few inches from Mickey’s face. Frank, having caught Alan’s outburst, orders him back to his bunk.

Credit: Magnet DVD

Besides Ronnie, everyone at this camp has a foul mouth and hair-trigger temper. Alan brings out the worst in them. That’s because he’s a whiny, insufferable douchebag. He blames his obnoxious behavior on rheumatic fever, however, his preppy step-brother Michael believes he just uses that as an excuse. He could be autistic. He’s bullied nonstop regardless, and in turn, bullies others. He makes fun of his fellow campers, flings food at them, pulls their hair, ruins their games, steals their candy, and lies. He’s also disgusting. He wears the same dirty outfit all movie, adding stains every scene. Ironically, his catchphrase is “Your ass stinks!”, which he turns and shouts many times in a taunting manner while running away from his enemies. The constant merciless torment he takes outweighs what he gives, but in my opinion is well deserved. I don’t feel any sympathy for him.

Throughout the movie, he’s tricked into smoking a joint full of cow manure, shot at point-blank range with paintballs, given a wedgie so powerful it rips his waistband, sending him into the lake, and forced on stage in front of the whole camp in his underwear. Smoking the joint causes him to collapse by another boy’s crotch, earning him the nickname “Blowjob”. In his infinite anger/embarrassment, Alan yells things like “I hope you die!” and “I wish I could kill [you]!”, setting him up as the killer.

Even his own brother gets in on the fun. Alan often retreats to a small clearing with a log bench next to the water where he keeps an old briefcase stocked full of crumpled soda bottles, cups, and snacks that he leaves open, exposed to the elements. He considers the frogs there his only friends. One evening, Michael skins all the frogs and frames Alan for it so his crush thinks he’s psycho.

“Who did this to you?!”
Credit: Magnet DVD

Soon, the people taking pleasure in Alan’s misfortune start piling up dead. Return reverts to the mystery format of Part 1, keeping the killer’s identity hidden. They obviously want you to think that it’s Alan, however, his body type is completely wrong. The killer is thin. He or she wears a baggy, dark grey hoody and gloves. Who could it be?

Ronnie convinces himself that it’s Petey, a female counselor, because she’s always running to Alan’s aid. Another possibility is Angela’s cousin Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten, back in action). He works nearby, visits Angela every few weeks at the looney bin, and is suspected by some fans of helping her carry out the original murders. Michael is violent enough to skin frogs. Maybe it’s him. And why is the cop still hanging around?

One of my favorite parts is when Ronnie accuses Petey of secretly being Angela with a fiery intensity. I get the feeling he’s never actually been this angry in real life. He just seems like a sweetheart. His theory rests on the fact that “Petey” is almost “Peter”, Angela’s birth name. Does he really think she’d be dumb enough to apply for a job as a counselor using her own name? Oh, wait, that’s literally the plot of Part 2.

“You know, it’s funny, Petey…”
Credit: Magnet DVD

“Every single time Alan gets in trouble, there you are. Johnny-on-the-spot!”
Credit: Magnet DVD

The kills are inventive and well done, though perhaps a bit too elaborate. Some stretch credulity. For example, a pothead named Weed is tied to a chair, forced to ingest gasoline, and given a joint as a fuse. When it burns down, he explodes. His eyeballs go rocketing out of his head.

Later, Randy is also tied up so a noose made of fishing line can be lowered onto penis. The other end is secured to his Mini Jeep. His girlfriend is chased toward the vehicle, prompting her to speed off. Randy’s penis takes a cue from King Missle and detaches from his body. The girlfriend then runs into a strand of barbed wire stretched across the road. The barbed wire coils perfectly around her head as she crashes. How did the killer know this would happen? There are so many variables at play. Wouldn’t the barbed wire just hit the rail in the back and fall to the ground?

Right?!
Credit: Magnet DVD

Lastly, a boy is shown reading a porno mag. A stake erupts from the pages, barely missing his face. He looks down and sees a circular hole in the floor through which the stake must have been thrust. He and a friend peer through it six times (!) before he’s impaled. Why would anyone do that?

Skipping ahead here, Sheriff Jerry sheds his disguise, revealing himself to be an escaped Angela Thomas. She explains that she did all the murdering on behalf of Alan. Be honest, Ang, you would have done it regardless. Notice how a man being exposed as a woman is an inversion of the original where a girl is exposed as a boy. While clever in that sense, this twist is a highly predictable, lazy attempt to please fans, and as a result, lacks the raw shock value of the original’s. Plus, it leaves me with questions, like where did Angela learn to design and apply prosthetics to her face? A post-credits scene showing her drop a car on the real Sheriff’s head gives us a glimpse of how the movie would have looked with her in her natural form. Angela as the killer is fine, but there were much better ways to incorporate her.

KiDs CaN bE sO mEaN.
Credit: Magnet DVD

Partly due to the ending, Return was seen as a disappointment by many upon its belated release. It’s currently the the lowest rated entry on IMDb, not counting the fourth, which only amounts to a few minutes of test footage padded with clips of 1, 2, & 3. My wife, an even bigger fan of the series than I am, watched it once with me when we met and hasn’t spoken a word of it since. I enjoy it, however, it’s probably my least favorite — again, not counting the fourth.

I have to believe the massive delay contributed to its lukewarm reception. Like I already said, the movie took five years to come out, with numerous causes being cited. One was a total retooling of the CGI used to enhance Weed’s demise. When you wait that long for something to come out, your expectations subconsciously rise.

In my opinion, the main problem is that it was tailored toward diehard convention-going fans and recycles too many aspects of the original. The first kill where the egg-throwing cook is deep-fried headfirst in oil is nearly identical to the first attack in Part 1 where the pedo-rapist chef is scalded with boiling water. Also, there’s a black chef who disappears halfway through and a cop with fake facial hair. Were these similarities added so Hiltzik could point to them as proof of it being a remake, or because he thought we were clamoring for them? I’m guessing the latter. When I watch Return, I can’t help but visualize Hiltzik making that stupid, expectant Peter Griffin face, saying You liked this stuff, right? Well, here it is again!, then being crushed when I shrug my shoulders.

Credit: Family Guy, Fox

The original had a heavy focus on repressed/taboo sexuality, so I feel like this one should have further explored that to be a “true” sequel. Frustratingly, besides the symbolism of the stake through the porno mag (fittingly titled “Polecats”) and Randy losing his cock, there isn’t much going on here.

Let’s end on a positive note. The things I love most about Return to Sleepaway Camp are Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten, and Paul DeAngelo. Rose does a great job in her limited role. Conversely, the men’s acting hasn’t improved. In fact, it’s gotten much worse. But it’s good to see them again after all these years and I hope it’s not the last time. I challenge you to keep a straight face when Ricky sees his cousin unmask and momentarily becomes a hair metal singer: “Angelaaaaa!”

Credit: Magnet DVD

Another part I love is the opening theme song. It’s one of my favorite movie themes ever. The credits list it as “Return to Sleep Away Camp” by “Goat and Friends”, courtesy of “Goatboy Productions, Inc.” It was obviously written for the movie, which always makes a theme cooler. To clarify, the names and events in the song are unrelated to those in the movie, just loosely inspired by them. I wasted little time ripping the song from my DVD and burning it to several different CDs so I could listen to it in my car. I would have bought it, were it ever available. Myself and many other fans were eager to hear more from Goat and Friends.

Problem is, there was zero information about them online. Even what they’re saying is a mystery. Their lyrics are harder to crack than Zodiac’s 340 cipher. There’s just enough layering and distortion to make it nearly impossible. This is the best I could do. I isolated the vocals using Audacity, but it only helped so much. I’m reasonably confident about what’s in black. The orange I’m unsure of. Let me know if you have any ideas.

Sleepaway
Sleepaway Camp
Sleepaway

Yo, yo, school is out
Hooray, finally over
Sleepaway Camp, gonna try to get over
Joan in Math is looking over my shoulder
Please show me sweet time
Making new friends and having relations
Great way to spend our summer vacation

Who all they want live by day one
Mob to check the people (sleepaway)
Then we heard a great big sound
A monster killed little Edie

Sleepaway camp
Fun in the sun (we’re just having fun)
Sleepaway camp
Fun for everyone (every single week)
Sleepaway camp
Only just begun to party (keef satisfies)
Sleepaway camp
Party all summer long, c’mon (sleepaway is great)

Sleepaway
Sleepaway camp

First time, ok
First time for some
I’m away from home
I’m on the run
Gimme love, first time for everything
First time for everyone
Yo, gimme death, gimme death
Look what ya done
And you want a buzz
So have your fun

Roll, roll, roll your head
Gently down the street (sleepaway camp)
Mary, hurry, Mary, hurry
Your life looks bad to me (but don’t do the tramp)

Sleepaway camp
Having some fun (we’re just having fun)
Sleepaway camp
Fun for everyone (every single week)
Sleepaway camp
Only just begun to party (keef satisfies)
Sleepaway camp
Party all summer long, c’mon (sleepaway is great)

[repeat without parentheses]

Sleepaway camp
Don’t do the tramp, hey

You can still download most of the music from the first three movies from the soundtrack section of sleepawaycampfilms.com. Webmaster John Klyza co-founded Hayes’ site before starting his own. I messaged him back in 2011 requesting that he add “Return to Sleep Away Camp” and he did so within a few days or weeks. His post included a lo-res ad for an album/shoe release party with an image of hands folded in prayer and the word “Goat” in big letters. While I had Mr. Klyza, I asked him if he had any updates on the band. All he told me was at first he couldn’t find much info on them. I took that as a cryptic hint and just kind of concluded the band was a one-off, in-joke side project by one or more of the members of CKY, seeing as they cameo in the movie.

Credit: sleepawaycampfilms.com

Then, I dug a little deeper and found out that Goat and Friends might actually exist. There was a skate-punk band known variously as “The G.O.A.T.” and “The Goat & the Occasional Others” in California from 2007 to 2014ish. They only released one album, The Goat Speaks, the year after the movie finally came out. The cover is the same image from the ad posted by Klyza. Once you know what you’re looking at in the ad, you can make out the words “& the Occasional Others” below “Goat” to the right. Every member of the band was a skateboarder. It consisted of Shane Heyl on vocals, Kevin “Spanky” Long on guitar, Andrew Reynolds on guitar, Beagle One-ism on drums, and Atiba Jefferson on keyboards/bass. Reynolds was a playable character in the first seven Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games, the third of which features “96 Quite Bitter Beings”. Coincidence? As you’ll soon find out, yes.

While “GOAT” today is a popular acronym for “greatest of all time”, it carries a different meaning for Heyl. “When I used to live in Arizona… I would wake up the next day from a good time and my socks would be super-glued to the bottoms of my feet.” he told Thrasher Magazine in 2009. “I guess it was from skating and drinking so much — all the toxins would seep out of the soles of my feet, and when it dried out, I would have to rip the skin to get them off. I was able to twirl the socks around the bottoms of my feet without them falling off. It was pretty nasty. From that, the homies came up with the name Goat Foot.”

It was looking promising. The name was a near match, the timeline synched up, and one of the foremost experts on all things Sleepaway Camp believed it to be the right band. That should have sealed it. However, I still wasn’t convinced. The movie theme has at least two singers, maybe three, and a tighter, heavier, lo-fi garage rock sound than the album. Why the change in direction? Did it feature additional musicians? Is there a meaningful distinction between “friends” and “occasional others”? If so, who are the friends?

My recent re-watch renewed my interest in solving this little fourteen-year mystery, so I Googled the company “Goatboy Productions, Inc.” I’m pretty sure I did that before, but to my amazement, it now leads to the Vevo channel of a New York-based artist named Goat, real name Andrew Scott Rosen. He provided the song “Great Life” for I Know What You Did Last Summer. I double-checked the end credits of that movie. They list him as “Goatboy”. I listened to a few of his songs and in my opinion his voice was a much closer match, but his music was further away than ever. The geography made more sense too.

His Discogs profile links to an old website that’s no longer online. I pulled it up using the Wayback Machine. It was last updated May 23rd, 2007, before the movie came out and contains no mention of it or the song.

I contacted Goat’s official channel “Goat Music” and waited. It seemed like a long shot. Not 24 hours later, I received a response confirming that Goat was indeed the artist who wrote, produced, and recorded the song. I was kind of surprised. It’s a huge departure from his usual style. Being able to switch it up like that is the mark of a truly talented musician. The person I spoke to was very gracious and helpful. I asked if he happened to have access to a list of personnel for the song so I might finally know who the “friends” are. He assured me he’d talk to Goat and follow up with as much information as possible. Unfortunately, I’m still waiting. If and when I do get those details, I’ll update this post. Until then, I’m seriously grooving on “Miracle”.

As it turns out, “Goat” holds a special meaning for Rosen as well. It’s “a reflection of his positive attitude and outlook on life: Good Of All Things”.

Stay positive ✌️ Peace