As I’ve stated before, and as this blog series shows, I tend to watch some obscure and flat-out weird titles from time to time. Rare is the time when I mention to Joe and Jenny a title I’m considering doing a write up on, and one of them has already seen it! Well, this gem scarred Joe in his youth, and now we all can share in the trauma.
Nudist Colony of the Dead was released in 1991, the year I graduated high school. As the opening credits declare, it was “written, rewritten, rewritten, and directed” by Mark Pirro and produced on a budget of about $35,000. The version I rented on Amazon Prime was the remastered version that combined numerous elements to try and make for a better final product. … Yes. This is indeed the better version of the film. (SPOILERS AHEAD)
Following a parody of the old THX sound test, our opening scene finds the parishioners of the Merciful Father of The Holy Guilt Ridden Church in a courtroom battle with the members of the Sunny Buttcheeks Nudist Colony in an effort to shutdown the fornicators and kick them off their property. With Judge Rhinehole (gawd, I’m a sucker for cheap puns!) presiding, the church wins. I must admit now that while watching the movie, I completely missed that the legendary Forrest J. Ackerman played the judge!
The nudist, agreeing that they would rather die than give up their land and way of life, form a suicide pact and literally drink the Kool-Aid. But with her dying breath, the tough as leather (and looking like it, too!) Mrs. Druple curses any bible thumpers that come upon the land.
Jump ahead five years, and Reverend Ritz has planned a retreat to Camp Cutchaguzz Out (formerly the location of the nudist colony) for all of the fornicating and wayward teens of the congregation that need redeeming. This goes ahead, even over the objections of Mr. McRighteous. Objections that remind everyone of the two other groups that were killed at the camp. Well, accidentally died, that is. Especially that group of 47 that all got fed to a woodchipper!
As the kids are all packed into the van, we get our first of many musical numbers, because “God’s Gonna Show Us The Way.” This is the moment I would like to give respect to Gregg Gross, Joyce Mordoh, and Mark Pirro for the ear-wormy and actually pretty funny songs. But is also when we get into the cringey racist humor of the time when we meet “Juan Tu” (“My mother was Mexican, and my father was Japanese”), complete with a bad Asian accent. The rest of the campers have their own little quirks to make them stand out from each other.
Upon reaching the camp, Ranger Bygbutts tries to warn the counselors to leave through the traditional method of rapping a retelling of the last slaughter of churchgoers. But the pious parishioners aren’t put off, of course, because we wouldn’t have a movie otherwise! Bygbutts is brighter, though, and bails right away before the bloodshed begins. On cue, the undead nudists rise from their graves and start the carnage with the counselors.
Blissfully unaware that they are now unattended, the campers great the day with an eye-opening musical number (complete with a random Black man that you see no other time in the film) that seems to be one of the bits that most people might know from it. And I’m happy to share that earworm with you here.
Like any other slasher camp, bodies body parts start to appear. Some of them even talk. As the campers are picked off one by one in several hilarious and creative methods, the zombies have to get in on the musical fun, too. Trust me: the legacy of Thriller is still very secure.
Even though I’ve shared a lot of the plot at this point, I’m going to bury the urge to talk about the ending. I’ll just say that it’s as goofy as the rest of the movie was and gives an unseen twist before the credits roll.
So was this a bad movie? Yes. But was it fully self-aware that it was a bad movie and had fun with it? Oh, indeed it was! And for me, those are the best kind of “bad” movies. From the opening credits, to the thumb in the eye of religious zealots, and the closing credits of this edition that list “Scraggs – Camera Operator’s Seeing Eye Dog” and “Helen Keller IV – Focus Puller” as a nod to the poor visual quality, Mark Pirro and company were 100% in on the joke. I’m glad they chose to share it with us.