Director Interview: Dave Campfield
Oct 25, 2011 - 1:58:43 PM
When I met director Dave Campfield at a horror film
convention recently, I was impressed with his knowledge of and his appreciation
for the genre. Having made DARK CHAMBER, a tale of deception and
surveillance that is available on DVD which features Felissa Rose and Desiree
Gould, both of SLEEPAWAY CAMP fame, I had the opportunity to see his latest
effort, CAESAR AND OTTO'S SUMMER CAMP
MASSACRE, which is quite frankly one of the funniest horror film parodies
that I have seen thus far. Available on DVD
from Amazon.com, CAESAR AND OTTO'S SUMMER CAMP MASSACRE is everything that
the title says it is and contains hilarious performances from a talented cast
The film gives us Caesar (played in an engaging performance by director
Campfield), a crazy wannabe tough guy and Otto (Paul Chomicki), his half
brother who is a bit of a dope but not a bad guy. After a series of
misadventures they find themselves in a summer camp and try out to be camp
counselors with other equally out-of-place wackos. Veteran actors Joe
Estevez, Brinke Stevens, and Felissa Rose star, and just about every scene in
the film has a joke or funny reference to other horror films. I found
myself laughing out loud on many occasions, and highly recommend the film for
There is plenty of blood to go around in addition to the
jokes and a wealth of extras to boot:
Commentary with Director Dave Campfield, and co-story writer Brendan Smith
Commentary with costars Paul Chomicki, Ken Macfarlane, Summer Ferguson, Avi
Garg, and FX artists Rich Calderon
Commentary with Director Dave Campfield, co-star Deron Miller and Brain Bonelli
Behind the Massacre (14 minutes)
25 Minutes with Joe Estevez (exclusive interview)
Alternate and Deleted Scenes (4 minutes)
"Caesar and Otto's Deadly Xmas" preview
4 Easter Eggs
Bonus short film: "Caesar and Otto Meet Dracula's Lawyer" (16 minutes)
I spoke recently with director
Campfield, who was a lot of fun to talk to about his film and love of the
Stryker: Where were your born and raised?
Campfield: I come from central Long Island. And yeah, I was pretty much
considered an outcast right from the beginning. When other kids were out
playing sports, I spent my time indoors writing fiction...badly (Laughs)
I kept fantasizing about different movies I could shoot on Super-8 film, plays
I could perform, or even self-made amusement parks I could entertain the locals
Stryker: And when did your love of horror begin?
Campfield: It started with my first trip to a haunted house when I was six
years-old. It was across town at the
local church's bazaar. I was terrified and couldn't even make it through, but I
loved every second of it! Similarly,
when I saw a gutted version of THE SHINING playing on television, I was
simultaneously repulsed and compelled. Guess I've always been attracted to the
Going to the movies as a young child
was such a life-altering experience for me. It started with a rerelease of STAR
WARS, which could be said for a lot of filmmakers. I was just so enamored with
the whole moviegoing experience that I knew even from an early age that this
was what I wanted to pursue, come hell or high water.
Stryker: Why do you think STAR WARS had such an impact?
Campfield: I think it has to do with the
overall spectacle of the film, being able to identify with the hopeful lead
character. STAR WARS consists of so many
different ideas woven into this one very accessible space opera. The music plays a big part in that as
well. It's very operatic and
spectacular. For anyone who has a love
of all of those different components, the film really resonates for them.
Stryker: Would you say that the film was a visceral experience for you?
Campfield: Absolutely. Sure, action films are faster paced today,
but STAR WARS had action and
intensity, which was there not just due to the presence of action, but also
because of the audiences' complete involvement in the story.
Stryker: STAR WARS was a pivotal film for myself as well, and it was also the
first movie that I went back to see more than once. By the time I left the movie theater after
having seen it the first time, I was convinced that I was Han Solo. Did you have a similar experience?
Campfield: Well, I was obviously too young to get to the theater on my own, but
I just begged at every opportunity to go back and see this movie! I think that most of us really identify with
Luke Skywalker but aspire to be Han Solo.
Stryker: Oh absolutely. There are a lot
of people out there who go to see a movie and to them it's just a little slice
of entertainment. For people like you
and myself, the film is much more than that.
Campfield: When I go see a movie, I'll be digesting that film for days
afterwards, thinking about it from different perspectives. I'll be thinking about what I liked about it,
and when I didn't like about it, and what made it distinctive and
Stryker: Did you ever see any films when you were very young that really left a
deep impression on you and frightened you?
Campfield: Oh, yeah! The opening of the
lost ark sequence in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK was very frightening to me. That, of course, wasn't a horror film, but
was traumatic nonetheless.
Stryker: Where did you see the bulk of
the horror movies that you grew up watching?
Campfield: All the horror movies I saw, I watched when they were on network
television. They were complete with
commercial interruptions and were edited down for television. I didn't really get to see a horror movie in
a theater until SCREAM came out.
Stryker: I was the same way. In the
early 1980's, a VCR was very expensive, so I relied on television network
showings of BURNT OFFERINGS, THE EXORCIST, TOURIST TRAP, PSYCHO, etc. It really was the only way to see these
movies. Plus, even if we did have a VCR,
it would have been impossible to rent those films. My parents didn't want me watching this
Campfield: HALLOWEEN was a pivotal film
for me, even in its edited form. But as I revisit HALLOWEEN, it's almost like
revisiting Disney World as an adult, which is to say that things that I found
to be absolutely frightening as a child, when I look back on them from an adult
perspective they seem a little bit silly.
Through an adult's eyes, you can see the strings holding up the
props. Without taking anything away from
the filmmakers, seeing those films as a child, there isn't anything more
frightening than that.
Stryker: In elementary school, there
were short films that our teachers used to show us that were truly
bizarre. One of them was called WINTER
OF THE WITCH, which was about a young boy and his mother moving into a
dilapidated mansion in the country. In
the attic lives a witch who has lived there for many, many years and teaches
them how to make the world's best blueberry pancakes. It's a crazy story, but even though it took
place in a spooky surrounding it was a favorite of mine. Did you ever see any children's movies that
you liked or that kind of freaked you out?
Campfield: Yes, there was a film about
tooth decay called THE HAUNTED MOUTH which you can see on Youtube. It was very frightening to me as a kid,
believe it or not. But hey, kids scare easily!
Stryker: In your pursuit of making movies, did you always want to make horror
Campfield: I wanted to make every type
of movie I could, with the exception of musicals. I was never a musical theater kind of guy;
that was never my strength. I mean, I'm
happy to watch one, but I've had no interest or passion about making one.
Stryker: Before you made the hilarious
comedy CAESAR AND OTTO'S CAMP MASSACRE, what movies did you make? What was the first movie that you made?
Campfield: Well, I started out doing
sketches on audiotapes when I was a kid.
Comedy sketches and skits, and those were kind of a springboard into
movies. My first film was called HOLMES
AND WATSON'S FIRST CASE. Sherlock Holmes
is thirteen years-old. It's much more in
the Caesar and Otto vein and was shot entirely in my basement, on my brother's
friend's camcorder. The basic plot
concerns Sherlock Holmes unable to pay the rent in a boiler room. At a certain point in the movie, the film
starts to break down and lose its cohesiveness.
When I finally got the money to buy a camcorder, though, there was no
stopping me in my pursuit of making films.
When I was growing up, I didn't have a lot of friends. So I generally star in the movies and play
multiple characters in the same films.
When other guys were going out on Friday nights getting drunk in parking
lots, I was at home making these crazy movies.
After that, I tried to get a
full-length film off the ground. I was
in college in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I found myself unable to focus on what
I had to do. I had written a script that
managed to catch the attention of some Hollywood agents, and I even had a
meeting with New Line Cinema right after dropping out of college. And we went back and forth, and I spent two
or three years working on the script as it remained in limbo. Instead, I
decided to make another, smaller scale script that I had written. I raised some local funding from my job, and
people I knew, and that was how DARK CHAMBER came to be. DARK CHAMBER began under the title of UNDER
SURVEILLANCE, and we started shooting in 2002 and wrapped four years later.
There were so many starts and stops to the film, but I was dedicated to making
the film I set out to shoot. Ironically,
if I had shot the movie just a year or two later, I would've have access to
much better cameras due to emerging HD technologies. But, let's just call it a learning
Stryker: How did you come to cast
Felissa Rose in this film?
Campfield: I actually had not seen SLEEPAWAY CAMP at the time that I made this
movie. So, Felissa was a complete
unknown to me. I met her on the set of a
commercial that we were both casting on, and she was very nice. So, I told her about a low-budget independent
film I was making and she told me that I should give her the opportunity to be
in it. So, I started doing research on
her and read about her role in SLEEPAWAY CAMP.
Since then, we've developed a very good friendship and working
relationship. Meet her led to meeting
other actors such as Desiree Gould who appears in DARK CHAMBER.
Stryker: What did making this film as a
feature-length project teach you about filmmaking?
Campfield: It taught me how to be more efficient, and how to make a movie for
less money. DARK CHAMBER cost roughly
$30,000 to make, but I probably could've done it for $11,000.00 or
$12,000.00. When we went on to do the
Caesar and Otto films, they were done for a fraction of the cost. Of course, the key to making movies like this
is to make them for as little money as possible in the hopes of at least making
your budget back while you're trying to find your audience.
Stryker: Where did you get the idea to
make the Caesar and Otto films? When I
saw the first film in the series, I found myself laughing out loud. It really is hilarious.
Campfield: The Caesar and Otto films are inspired by the types of movies that I
used to make in high school. My friend
and I would experiment with different characters and if it worked, great. If it didn't, we didn't use it. And from these sessions, the Caesar and Otto
characters basically emerged. I like the
way that these characters interact with each other. And so, we made a $700.00 production that
had no hope of going anywhere because it had no stars in it, no production
values. But when producer Michael Raso, the producer and distributor behind DARK
CHAMBER, asked me if I had any other ideas for a comedy/horror movie, I hatched
the idea to turn Caesar and Otto into a series of horror-comedy hybrids just
like they used to do with Abbott and Costello.
It would be a fun throwback to that kind of film. I
Stryker: Well, I found it to be a lot funnier than the SCARY MOVIE series. Our readers can order this from
Amazon.com. I would strongly recommend
that they pick it up. Really funny as
all hell! I can't wait for your take on Christmas.
Campfield: Thank you! Glad you enjoyed
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