Originally released in 1988, Memorial Valley Massacre attempts to capture the horror of flicks like Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes, but it does not even come close. Before ignoring it outright, it is possible to enjoy the movie, so long as you keep an open mind or watch the movie as a parody.
Directed by Robert Hughes, Memorial Valley Massacre could be categorized as an environmental horror film or as a slasher movie without the blood and guts. The film opens with the world’s worst campers trying to enter a new park days before the Memorial Day holiday. There are few veterans among these campers. Instead, we are treated to cliché bikers, metal heads (it’s speed metal, dude), an obnoxious family (complete with an obese kid with delusions of being a delinquent), a retired general (played with glee by William Smith) and his wife Pepper (Ms. Mintz, as in “Pepper Mintz”), and a sexy girl “who wants to be alone.”
Thing is, this new park is having some issues: there is no running water for the toilets, the roads have not been completed, and one of the workers has just been murdered. Despite these problems, tycoon Allen Sangster (cameo by Cameron Mitchell) insists that the park open. After, all, he has plans for the joint, including a future ski hill, shopping centers, and condos (see the environmental bent, eh?).
Complicating matters for “park ranger” George Webster (John Kerry), a former Special Forces dude, is the arrival of Sangster’s son David (Mark Mears), a fresh out of college environmentalist who “just wants to work.” It turns out that Webster’s son was abducted 20 years ago, with the kidnapper fleeing into Memorial Valley. The kidnapper was wounded by FBI and police, but his body—and the still living kid—were never found.
Now in his twenties, the surviving kid (played by John Caso) lives a hermit-like existence in a cave, where he keeps the skeleton of his kidnapper. Feral but smart enough to know how vehicles work, the hermit despises the invasion of stupid humans into his forest. He takes it upon himself to attack the obese kid, who is tearing his way through the forest on a three-wheeler (illegal at this park). After striking the three-wheeler with a log, the feral kid turns his attention on the obese kid, who cuts his face with a knife. Now really pissed off, the feral kid goes after the knife wielder, killing him.
The remainder of the movie involves the hermit terrorizing and taking out the bulk of the eclectic band of campers. There are various attempts at titillation (the metalhead female dances in the rain, which accentuates her nipples, and various girls wear some tight pants or shorts), several murders (which have little if any blood or imagination), some preaching about the environment (some humans bad; others are good), and an attempt at pathos when father and son engage in a game of First Blood/Predator with booby traps and discover each other again.
There’s very little to recommend Memorial Valley Massacre with respect to “horror value,” as there really is not much on display. Fans of The Hills Have Eyes should stick to that flick, as this one will definitely disappoint. However, fans who can tolerate a bad 1980s horror flick or sit back and laugh at the dialogue, performances, and situations presented throughout this cinematic experience should have a good time. It’s also fun for the demented, as there are plenty of opportunities to cheer for the hermit, as the “normal” people are the most unlikeable band ever committed to celluloid.