Rick (Ron Livingston, of Office Space fame) and Valerie (some chick that I've never seen before) are honeymooning by driving around in their RV. They take a detour to go to some tourist trap and run out of gas or something, I forget. They meet the obligatory creepy random guy who tells them that these parts o' the woods ain't safe at night because "they" will git you. The audience never really finds out just who/what "they" are, which is one place where this story is lacking. I have seriously no idea what was attacking these people and it pisses me off. The couple commits all the same old horror movie victim crimes - having sex (twice, might I add... it's their honeymoon, y'know), separating, going off into the woods alone, and not listening to the creepy random guy in the first place.
There is a small amount of tension as Valerie fights the unseen beings, and overall the story is a satisfying one. The urban legend part of the story doesn't come in until the end, when a police officer finds Valerie cowering in the RV the next morning. He leads her away, telling her to look straight ahead but she sees in a reflection the awful truth - Rick hanging upside down from a tree above the RV. This reveal is nice, and though the characters are believable and somewhat likable (it is a little funny when Rick runs outside naked at one point and yells out "I just had great sex!"), this story is still a little weird simply for the fact that I have no absolutely no idea what was menacing these two lovebirds all night. It seems like it goes a little bit into the realm of the supernatural, which is fine, but it perhaps would have been more convincing if the killers were deformed hillbillies or something. That sounds weird, I know.
"People Can Lick, Too"
Straight up creepiest story ever. Chatting with people on the Internet is bad, kids, and if you don't believe your parents about that, watch this. Amanda's birthday is tomorrow and she's about to have a bad night when her sister and parents are out of the house and her Internet chatting buddy "Jessica" comes to pay her a visit. Of course, "Jessica" is actually a pervy and very scary older man with gross long gray hair. Nothing happens to Amanda, and in fact the only fatality is her beloved dog. It is the implications of what could happen and the audience's imagination that make this story effective. We all remember how scary it was to be alone at night when we were younger and this raises that fear to the nth degree.
This story is the whole reason why I wanted to talk about this movie in the first place because when I first saw it many years ago, that image where they reveal what "people can lick, too" actually means was permanently stuck in my brain. I mean, that is just... beyond wrong. That is freaking creepy and wrong, and unfortunately for the girl in this story, gives a whole other meaning to the monsters under the bed phobia that she has probably grown out of by now, but which is now going to be back with a vengeance. Just watch the story and be horrified. You'll feel me.
Last up in our little anthology tale is "The Locket," a sad one for me to see because it stars the much-loved actor from "Angel" (and "Roseanne"), Glenn Quinn, who is no longer with us. Jacinda Barrett is also here in her first movie role, though unfortunately she doesn't get to say any lines. Boo for her. So anyway, it's a treacherous evening for motorcycle-riding cutie Scott when his bike poops out on him during a downpour. The nearest house doesn't have a phone, but it does have a beautiful woman named Heather whom Scott is instantly infatuated with. The house also has a story and a few ghosts haunting the premises... some of which may be closer than Scott realizes...
This is one of those ghost stories that is truly frightening and scary, but is mostly just sad. It's sad in the way that past horrors are doomed to be repeated over and over again and never let the souls rest even after all that they've been through. And though the ending to The Locket may at first seem like only an attempt at a gruesome shock, I felt the sadness in that moment, too. It's weird, but it got to me in some way. I think they found the perfect two actors to play these roles, as Glenn really plays the sweet-guy character to a T, and Jacinda's gorgeous looks and cascades of curly hair may make the all the girl's hate her, but every gesture and facial expression she gives is also very sweet and endearing. You can't help but love them both. Very good story to close the anthology.
So though Campfire Tales is at times weakly put together and edges very close to that line of campiness, it's a fun little collection of horror tales that almost everyone can enjoy at least once. There's nothing really special or unique about it but it is one that I think people can look back on and say, "Oh yeah, I remember that seeing little flick... It wasn't too bad!" And really, it's not. It's fun for what it is and is pretty successful at being a middle-of-the-road sorta-horror anthology.