Campfire Stories is a 1998 American teen slasher anthology film directed by Quentin Tarantino and written by Tarantino and Kevin Williamson.
The film is produced by Robert Rodriguez and Elizabeth Avellan.
The film deals with seven college students taking a camping trip up to the mountains for spring break where they tell seven horror stories similar to classic 80's slasher films.
The film has an ensemble cast that includes Alicia Silverstone, Rose McGowan, Josh Brolin, Jerry O'Connell, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jamie Lee Curtis, John Ritter, Katie Holmes, Claire Danes, Eric Mabius, Melinda Clarke, Danielle Harris, Joshua Jackson, Ryan Phillippe, Ethan Embry, Demi Moore, Sally Field, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jeremy Sisto, Luke Wilson, Anne Heche, Sara Gilbert, Micheal Fishman, Brandy Norwood, Freddie Prinze Jr., Kathleen Turner, Peter Gallagher, Skeet Ulrich, Luke Perry, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Drew Barrymore and Salma Hayek.
The film was distributed by Dimension Films and was released on October 30th, 1998 to a very positive reaction from critics and audiences for it's nostalgic elements, homages other 80's slasher films, the all star cast, and the screenplay. The film grossed $125 million globally, thus becoming a huge box office success.
The film opens up at New York University with seven film students Kelly Turner, Jillian Byers, Derrick Barrett, Steve Harrison, Nancy McCarthy, Jeremy Vaughn and Gavin Pearson presenting their thesis films to their respective teachers for their finals. Their thesis film are inspired by classic 1980's slasher films and they get good grades as a result but Jillian ends up getting a C as a result. In celebration for completing their semester, the group decide to take a camping trip into the New England mountains for spring break. After a long drive, the group finally made it to the camping grounds and set up their camping equipment. By nightfall, Derrick celebrates the end of the semester by drinking beer and roasting marshmallows with everyone else but Jillian ends up in tears due to her failed final.
After a while, Kelly decides to break the ice by telling scary stories involving their thesis films with everyone else playing along telling their own stories about their own thesis films.
Kelly's story begins with four youths Luke, Tiffany, Peyton and Rod heading to a camp called Camp Burningman run by the egotistical Mike Kostic. The four youths are put in charge of refurbishing the camp and it's facilities as Mike heads into town to get more supplies for the camp. After he leaves, three siblings Louie, Lucy and Benjamin sneak into the grounds to hide out from their abusive parents who are searching for them. When Peyton and Tiffany discover them hiding in the pantry in the camp's kitchen, they allow the trio to stay the night at camp despite Mike's orders not to.
As night falls, Luke along with Peyton, Tiffany, Louie, Rod and Benjamin are at a campfire telling a horrifying tale of a girl named Felissa Becker who died in a freak accident involving an arrow shot through her heart. Felissa was a camper at Camp Burningman who was picked on by counselors and campers for her awkward appearance. One day, she received a letter from a male camper who she had a crush on and was lured to the camp's archery range where she was supposed to meet him. Little did she know that her tormenters had planned a cruel prank to scare her with arrows which was successful at first but she is shot through the heart by a stray arrow which killed her. After her death, the campers that killed her buried her body in the woods and moments later were savagely murdered by an assailant with a machete who happened to witness the accident.
Peyton then finishes the story with the killer still being at large looking for those who try to re-open Camp Burningman and tells Louie that it is an urban legend much to his relief. After the campfire, everybody returns to their cabins with Peyton and Luke returning to the main cabin to have sex in the hot tub. Meanwhile, Louie's abusive parents Brian and Melissa sneak into the camp grounds to reclaim their children but encounter an unseen figure who hacks Melissa apart with a machete before hanging Brian from a tree which snaps his neck on impact.
Meanwhile, Tiffany tucks the kids to bed at the bunks after reading them a bedtime story before taking off with Rod to have sex in the woods. Back at the main cabin, Peyton catches Mike masturbating to her and Mike having sex leading to a brawl between Luke and Mike which ends with Luke being fired before Mike storms out of the cabin. Back at the bunks, Benjamin and Lucy wake up and wander around the camp grounds until Lucy finds the dead body of Melissa buried in the sand at the lake and screams in terror. Lucy's screams attract the attention of Luke and Peyton who come to her aid and find that Benjamin and Louie are nowhere to be found.
Meanwhile, Rod and Tiffany are in the middle of having sex until the killer appears and slashes Rod's throat, forcing Tiffany to flee as Rod's back is cut open. The killer proceeds to chase Tiffany to the camping grounds where she eludes the killer several times until he catches her in the kitchen where he knocks a pot of boiling water onto Tiffany, severely scalding her. A weakened Tiffany tries to crawl to saftey but the killer decapitates her with the machete.
Mike is seen driving away from the camp after his scuffle with Luke and his car suddenly breaks down. When gets out of the car to fix it, he bumps into Louie who smashes a rock over his head, knocking him out. Back at the camp, Peyton, Luke and Lucy return to the bunks to find that Benjamin has been severely beaten and stabbed. With Benjamin bleeding out, Luke stays behind to tend Benjamin's injuries while Peyton and Lucy head to the main cabin to call the police but he discover that the phone lines were cut. Lucy suddenly shrieks in horror to see that Brian's hung corpse is hanging outside the window and Tiffany's headless corpse floating in the hot tub.
They flee the main cabin and Peyton and Lucy head to Luke's jeep and leaves Lucy in the backseat for her own protection. Peyton returns to the bunks to find Luke disemboweled and Benjamin dead from his injuries. Terrified, she returns to the jeep and brings Lucy to the main cabin before telling her to lock the doors and windows. As she returns to the jeep, Peyton finds Rod's corspe in the passengers seat and flees into the forest where she discovers Louie giving a strung up Mike oral sex before bisecting him with the machete.
As a shocked Peyton looks on, she not only realizes that Louie is the killer of the campfire story but he is indeed Felissa Becker. She turns to Peyton and introduces herself to her before revealing that the arrow actually missed her heart and she almost suffocated to death after being buried alive. She goes on to say that she dug herself out of her grave and murdered her tormentors in their cabins with the machete before sparing Mike who was revealed as the camper that Felissa had a crush on. She swore revenge against him after he turned her in to the police and was committed to an asylum.
AROUND THE FIRE:
- Alicia Silverstone as Kelly Turner
- Claire Danes as Jillian Byers
- Ryan Phillippe as Derrick Barrett
- Ethan Embry as Steve Harrison
- Sara Gilbert as Nancy McCarthy
- Freddie Prinze Jr. as Jeremy Vaughn
- Joshua Jackson as Gavin Pearson
- Anne Heche as Linda Armitage
- Peter Gallagher as William Armitage
- Luke Perry as Brody
- Salma Hayek as Rosalita
- Bryan Cranston as Officer Boris McClure
- Josh Brolin as Paul
- Demi Moore as Astrid
- Skeet Ulrich as Dylan
- Natasha Gregson Wagner as Heather
- Danielle Harris as Sherry Woods
- Jerry O'Connell as Dex Walker
- Jamie Lee Curtis as Martha Applebee
- John Ritter as Herbert Applebee
- Roger L. Jackson as The Caller
- Jacob Smith as Tommy Applebee
- Mika Boorem as Celia Applebee
BAD NIGHT AT LOVERS LANE:
- Sarah Michelle Gellar as Gwendy
- Eric Mabius as Jason
- Kane Hodder as The Meathook
THE KILLING FARM:
- Jennifer Love Hewitt as Brooke Walsh
- Kathleen Turner as Mabel Hale
- Sally Field as Frannie Hale
- Brandy Norwood as Marrie Sherwood
- Seth Green as Dirk Witwicky
- Andrew Bryniarski as Mordecai Hale
- Jeremy Sisto as Luke
- Luke Wilson as Mike Kostic
- Katie Holmes as Tiffany
- Lecy Goranson as Peyton
- Clea DuVall as Felissa Becker
- Micheal Fishman as Louie
- Joseph Cross as Benjamin
- Johnathan Taylor Thomas as Rod
- Hayden Panettiere as Lucy
- Julianne Moore as Melissa
- Vince Vaughn as Brian
- Drew Barrymore as Amy Bloodstone
- Christine Taylor as Helen
- Tatyana Ali as Anaya
- Scott Speedman as Jake
- Melinda Clarke as Priscilla Bloodstone
- Rose McGowan as Belle
- Barry Watson as Daniel
- Micheal Pare as Richard Harrington/The Opera Killer
- Matthew Lillard as Denny
- Shortly after the release of Scream 2 (1997), Kevin Williamson expressed his interest of making an anthology slasher film and when Quentin Tarantino noticed that the slasher genre was revived due to the success of Scream (1996), he teamed up with Williamson to develop the script.
- The film was originally titled By The Fire, Scary Stories To Tell In The Woods and Tales From The Campfire.
- Jerry O'Connell and Sarah Michelle Gellar had recently co-starred in Scream 2 together before production on this film began.
- Jamie Lee Curtis signed onto the project after reading the script labeling it, "A UNIQUE SLASHER FILM THROWBACK." Curtis had to balance her schedule with this film due to working on Halloween H20: 20 Years Later which later came out in the summer of 1998.
- John Ritter also had to balance his schedule for this film due to working on the fourth Child's Play film, Bride Of Chucky which came out in the same month as this film.
- The MPAA took issue at the graphic violence and sexuality calling it too graphic for mainstream audiences and gave the film an NC-17 rating. Several cuts we're made and the film received it's R rating with the director's cut getting a DVD and Blu-ray release 10 years later. Campfire Stories is rated R for sequences of strong gruesome bloody violence and gore throughout, some crude sexual content, graphic nudity, grisly images, pervasive language and some drug use.
- Sarah Michelle Gellar admitted in an interview that the "Bad Night At Lovers Lane" reminded her of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre mixed in with the urban legend "The Hook". She also admitted that her hectic schedule also gave her panic attacks on set due to being on the show "Buffy The Vampire Slayer".
- Danielle Harris was thrilled with the script after signing onto the project and called it a savvy but new slasher film that pays respect to the slasher films from the 80's. She also admitted that working with Jamie Lee Curtis was a dream come true.
- Campfire Stories premiered at the 1998 Toronto International Film Festival for the Midnight Madness line up on September 15th, 1998 before receiving a wide theatrical release on October 30, 1998 to a majority of positive reviews from critics and audiences alike for it's homages to other 80's slasher films, all-star cast and the screenplay. The film holds a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus stating, "With Quentin Tarantino's signature graphic violence, a smart script and an all out ensemble cast, Campfire Stories is an inventive slasher anthology loaded with insane deaths, clever nods to slasher classics and acts like a love letter to the horror genre that manages to satisfy horror fans in the best way possible."
- Years after it's release, Campfire Stories became a midnight movie classic and cult favorite.
- During post-production, Harvey Weinstein became livid with Quentin Tarantino over the film's long runtime of 150 minutes and requests that the film to be trimmed to 115 minutes but Tarantino refuses. Furious that he refused, Weinstein and Tarantino almost got into a heated altercation which was stopped in the nick of time by Bob Weinstein and Jamie Lee Curtis. Curtis then explained to a seething Weinstein that the film needs to keep it's runtime because of the segments. She also stated that the segments were inspired by 1980's slashers such as Sleepaway Camp, Madman, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Forest, My Bloody Valentine, Friday The 13th, Curtains, Halloween and When A Stranger Calls. Weinstein then begrudgingly allows the film to keep it's 150 runtime.