Campfire Tales (1997) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Campfire Tales is, well, pretty much exactly what it sounds like, an anthology of horror stories told around a campfire. There is a "hook" to the campfire scenes as well, but they exist mainly to provide a framing structure for the four urban legends. You know the drill - they are the kind of stories that end with a listener declaring "c'mon, that isn't true!" The storyteller then draws from the box of stock responses, which usually produces a result something like "Oh, I know the story is true, because the man with the missing finger ... was ME!!!" (Jumps suddenly at listener, followed by diabolical laughter.)

It isn't a bad film, but it is just as run-of-the-mill as it sounds. It just doesn't have much juice. The four stories are light on gore, light on T&A, and heavy on standard horror clichés. I can give you only one good reason to watch the film: you get a chance to see several young actors who later became much more successful. There's Ron Livingstone, who later starred in the cult classic comedy, Office Space. There's James Marsden, who become Cyclops in the X-Men movies. There's Jacinda Barrett, who debuted in Campfire Tales, and graduated to small but important parts in A-List movies like The Human Stain and Bridget Jones 2. There's Christine Taylor, who married Ben Stiller and co-starred with him in Dodgeball. There's Chris Masterson from Malcolm in the Middle, and adorable Amy Smart, who never became a star, but has always had a steady paycheck. If you watch Campfire Tales you can see all of them when they were much younger and not at all famous, and that's actually kind of cool.

Although the film featured so many rising stars, the female nudity was provided by a falling star, or maybe it's more appropriate to call her a disappearing star, Jennifer MacDonald, who worked steadily in the 1994-1996 era, but seems to have closed out her movie and TV career with this film. Although she has some fans and there is even a web site dedicated to her worship, nobody seems to know what she's doing now. If her biography can be believed, she is a person with unusual and wide-ranging interests (she learned to speak standard Arabic and Egyptian in military intelligence), so I suppose she has probably found a profession which gives her more intellectual satisfaction.



  • no meaningful features
  • widescreen anamorphic (16x9)



  • Ron Livingstone shows his bum in a dark outdoor scene.

  • Jennifer MacDonald shows one breast from the side.

The Critics Vote ...

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a C-, typical genre film, not original, but reasonably competent.

Return to the Movie House home page