Welcome to Volume 4 of Trash or Treasure where I finally make my foray into a Troma Film: 1998’s Decampitated. Troma was founded in 1974 and since then has become synonymous with terrible movies. I first heard of this film from Achievement Hunter’s now defunct “Theater Mode Movie Club”, so from the get-go I wasn’t expecting a Cannes-breaking film. The movie’s very misleading cover art and poster denotes a generally straight-forwards experience: nudity, gore, and general terrible-ness. What I got was so, so much worse.
Decampitated tells the story of seven (one more than last time!) fateful teenagers as they go on a camping trip into the woods, where an angry killer waits for teens to go camping.. The movie opens with that fateful Troma Films logo and music so I buckled myself in for what I knew would be a bumpy ride. The film opens with a scene of two attractive lady campers being chased by the film’s killer. We already get to see how ridiculous the film will be, as the killer skips his way through the woods to murder these two relatively unimportant characters. This, also topped off, with an insane gag in which one of the poor victims accidentally places her limbs in consecutive bear traps.
“Quadruple amputations! Hilarious!” – The director, probably.
We are then whisked away to the most disturbingly creepy travel agency that has a sign clearly meant for a funeral home. We meet two of the main characters and an equally disturbing travel agent who unnecessarily plans their camping trip to the unreasonably named “Decamp Acres” for them, acting so creepy that he might as well just tell them all he’s the killer right now. We then meet the five other teenage campers that star in the film, and Troma checks off all the stereotype boxes in one go: the badass girl, the nerd, the stupid girl, the jock, and the black guy. This is also the first time we’re introduced to the uncomfortable close-up of two characters talking that we get every time two characters talk. In a way it’s innovative in the sense that it brings you a whole new way to hate this terrible film within the first 8 minutes.
You’re not the only uncomfortable person in this scene…
The inexplicably douchey blond haired guy then asks if all of our main characters is ready to which they all respond by flipping him off. It feels like the film is flipping you off for being stupid enough to watch this silly movie. Once our characters are on the road, we’re then treated to what’s known in the film world as “padding the run time”. The film, having never established where the beginning of their trip and the end of their trip are, take us on a montage-adventure of everyone in the car sleeping while blond douche gets them lost and does reasonable things like getting a tattoo and eating at Sonic (or the non-product placement equivalent). This film-extending section ends when he runs into a tree and ruins the car. Luckily this happens to be the exact spot they were supposed to end up at!
Here’s the movie telling you how stupid you are.
Immediately tensions begin to boil over through a series of strange and slapstick-esque moments that make you really wonder how these characters ever became friends. It seems like everytime one of the characters tries to talk to one another all they do is insult and berate each other. I’d also like to point out that it’s incredibly hard to keep track of the names of the characters in this film because they get mentioned maybe once or twice, if at all. These thoughts I’m having about their names occur while they have an argument about whether to stop to make camp or continue to find help. Luckily, one of the characters decides to go to get help while the rest of them make camp (as decided through an argument of course).
I’ll give you zero guesses as to which character goes off alone.
We continue through this film and see such scenes as the black characters being kidnapped by a offensively portrayed transvestite woodsperson after being chased by the killer. This is a good time to point out that whenever the killer shows up it plays not scary music but upbeat swing music, because the sound designers in this film had an absolute field day. It’s also good to make note that the reason the black guy escapes from the killer is because of a Team Rocket-esque trap set in the woods by God themself. This high speed, intense chase is intersped with scenes of the rest of the gang sitting at their makeshift campground, making attempts to give us exposition, and to no one’s surprise: arguing. Seriously, there’s some incredibly ridiculous moments in this film that could be funny if it weren’t for the fact that every character is always arguing. In fact, the arguing is the only thing that makes the characters seem like they’re in the same movie at all.
Again, this is what the movie thinks of you for watching it.
I would really like to give good explanation as to what happens next, but this article can’t be a novel, and there is just too much to handle. So, I’ll do my best to summarize the ridiculous parts. The black guy hangs out with the kidnapper transvestite, who mixes drinks with a vibrator and attempts to seduce him. Blond douche tells a horror story that the viewer doesn’t get to hear. The group literally sings “kumbaya”, which is the only time they never argue. We also get to see the nerd and the idiot girl try and have a good, sexy time in their tent, punctuated by 45 seconds of the idiot girl taking off her boots in a sexy manner. Luckily for the viewer, the idiot girl farts in the nerd’s face and he steps outside to pee. The killer chooses this moment to strike, slicing nerd’s throat wide open. “Yes!” I thought. “Our first casualty!”. Just kidding, they patch up the nerd’s neck with duct tape and he communicates the rest of the film with a pen and paper. As a matter of fact, they patch up a lot of things with duct tape, and it seems like the film is a large commercial for duct tape.
If women don’t find you handsome,
they’ll at least find your neck wound horrific and off putting.
Instead of taking time to talk about the continuing escape from the killer that they make (in the morning, of course), I’d just like to really drive the point home that this movie is terrible. The dialogue is often non sequitur and hard to process (like the unnecessary singing of Kumbaya), the sound design is ridiculously over the top, and the characters are all entirely unlikeable. I found myself one too many times appreciating that at some point in this film the killer *might* kill these wholly terrible characters. It’s also good to note that, beginning with the nerd’s throat slice, many of the characters in this film die more than once. Jock dude gets turned into a blood tap, blond douche destroys his own ankles with a weedwhacker, and blond douche’s girlfriend gets her arm chopped off. This does, however, lead to the best scene in the movie where blond douche’s girlfriend escapes the killer by beating him with her detached arm.
Disclaimer: it is not worth it to watch the film just for this scene.
There is a final showdown at the end of the film, wherein you learn the killer was the travel agent all along, or if you’re smart, you realize you’ve spent too much time watching this movie. There’s an insane series of events that occur, as many of the main “good” characters are killed off by one another instead of the killer, and if you want to make the movie more interesting, start betting on how you think each character will die. Hint: despite the shitty pun of a movie title, only one of them is decapitated. I finished the movie five minutes before writing this, and I don’t even remember who lives or dies. Luckily, there’s a long list of comical credits to sooth your pain including such gems as “Lighting Designer – God” and “Costume Designer – Walmart”. It doesn’t get you back the hour and 25 minutes you spent on the film, but it’s something.
Trust me, NOTHING gets you back your hour and 25 minutes…
Decampitated is not a film to be taken seriously. As horrifying as it would be to think that human beings made this film under the guise of complete seriousness, it’s very clear that it’s supposed to be ridiculous. The only problem is that it takes it so far that it’s near impossible to watch. If anything signifies that best, it’s that using IMDB didn’t help me learn the character’s names at all. Instead of watching Decampitated, I highly recommend you get your six best friends and go camping without help from any creepy travel agents.
Do they even have travel agents anymore?