Note: Dave Campfield Interview was done on Oct 25, 2011
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 all around.
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 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 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 purchase.
Thereee 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)
- Trailer Vault
- “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 cinema.
HOH: Where were you born and raised?
Dave 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 with.
HOH: And when did your love of horror begin?
Dave 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 macabre.
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.
HOH: Why do you think STAR WARS had such an impact?
Dave 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.
HOH: Would you say that the film was a visceral experience for you?
Dave 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.
HOH: 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?
Dave 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.
HOH: Oh absolutely. Thereee 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.
Dave Campfield: When I go see a movie, I’ll be digesting that film for days afterward, 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 memorable.
HOH: Did you ever see any films when you were very young that really left a deep impression on you and frightened you?
Dave 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.
HOH: Where did you see the bulk of the horror movies that you grew up watching?
Dave 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.
HOH: I was the same way. In the early 1980s, 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 stuff!
Dave 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.
HOH: In elementary school, there were short films that our teachers used to show us that was 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?
Dave 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!
HOH: In your pursuit of making movies, did you always want to make horror films?
David 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.
HOH: 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?
David 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. Thereee 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 experience!
HOH: How did you come to cast Felissa Rose in this film?
Dave 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 the 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 the DARK CHAMBER.
HOH: What did making this film as a feature-length project teach you about filmmaking?
Dave 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 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.
HOH: 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.
Dave 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
HOH: 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.
Dave Campfield: Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.