Earlier this week, as we sat around the fire, staring up at a gorgeous sky full of stars and a brilliant moon, I started to think about the semi-recurring segment that I run sometimes called Midnight Cinephile's Favorite Scenes. I was thinking about the first installment (Ghostbusters - "The Dead Have Been Rising From The Grave" scene) and how I was talking about The Campfire Story Feel™ which in turn led me to start thinking of my favorite campfire tales in movies.
So here, in no particular order are six of my favorite campfire scenes from (mostly) horror movies! Enjoy!
This one reminds me of one of the stories that my buddy Dave and I would tell each other. It's got that gruesome creep factor as well as a quasi-ridiculous punch ending that is both slightly disturbing yet absolutely hilarious. I'm a sucker for good ol' campfire tales like this one. The tale itself revolves around a bowling alley and it's most unfortunately employees who are tied up, murdered and dismembered by for disgruntled colleague. It's all in here, gruesome murder, a psychotic killer and of course bowling with body parts!
Stand By Me
While not exactly a horror movie, Stand by Me is one of my favorite King film adaptations. The story told around the fire is also not frightening, however it does have all the elements of a great campfire story. It's a tale of revenge when a bullied over kid decides to wreck vengeance on the cruel townfolk during a blueberry pie eating contest. The build-up to the punch is fantastic and the payoff is disgusting and quite comical as well.
Invasion From Inner Earth aka They
You may remember my review of Bill Rebane's wonky sci-fi alien invasion flick, They, or as it's more commonly known "Invasion from Inner Earth. What makes this flick so unique is the fact that instead of trying to show the epic invasion of our planet, we're instead trapped in a remote cabin in the snowbound woods in the middle of winter. When it becomes apparent that our protagonists will have to try and make a break for it, they trek off into the wilderness. This campfire sequence stands out among the others in that it takes place during the day. Also, this isn't a simple story being told to entertain the group, rather it's a theory of where the aliens came from. You may see it as wonky and cheesy, but I see it as one of the great unsung campfire scenes in a low budget flick.
Once again breaking away from horror, we have one of the seminal campfire story scenes. Of course Meatballs was going to make the list! Trip (the legendary Bill Murray) takes the CIT's (that's Counselors In Training in case ya weren't the camp type) on an overnight camping trip. Naturally as they sit around the fire, Trip tells the tale of a young couple out on lovers lane, who discover that an escaped lunatic with a hook for a hand is on the loose. It's the most cliched of all campfire tales, yet Murray's performance is so hilariously over the top it's impossible not to get sucked in!
This one STILL gives me the chills. In my humble opinion, it's one of the best openings to a film, horror or not. The tale of the Elizabeth Dane (a clipper ship) and it's tragic end on the rocks near Spivey Point due to a campfire lit on shore. Of course the tale takes place exactly 100 years before the story is being told. The ship is still down there in the depths and her crew ready to exact vengeance.
Friday the 13th Part II
Quintessential 80's campfire cheese (or in this case marshmellow?). Now remember, this is Part II so no one has seen full grown Jason yet. We've only see freaky-little-boy-pulling-people-into-the-lake-Jason so far. This one is awesome and it really evokes the spooky vibe on the best campfire tales with of course a jump scare thrown in for good measure (I won't spoil it for the two of you that haven't seen the film yet). I never tire of this one.
I hope you enjoyed this little campfire countdown. Lemme know what some of your favorite campfire scenes are either in the comments below or on the Midnight Cinephile Facebook Page!