Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 31st, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1977
Director: Douglas Curtis
Writer: Bruce Shelly
Cast: Jeff East, Kelly Moran, Sandra Vacey, David Hayward, Brad David, Jim Boelsen, Charles Martin Smith
DVD released: July 22nd, 2008
Approximate running time: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Media Blasters/Shriek Show
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.99
Synopsis: Craig Lewis a freshman on a track scholarship is approached by a fraternity to become one of its pledges. Craig becomes entangled in a murder when another one of the pledges who accidentally dies. Craig’s new sorority brothers’ blackmail him into keeping his mouth shut.
The Curious Case of the Campus Corpse was originally released under the title The Hazing. The Curious Case of the Campus Corpse was directed by a first time director named Douglas Curtis who previously had only directed documentaries and commercials. The screenplay was written by Bruce Shelly a writer who primary work for television. This film would mark Bruce Shelly’s only produced screenplay to be made into a feature film.
Trying to fit The Curious Case of the Campus Corpse into a specific genre is difficult since has equal amounts of comedy, drama and suspense. One thing this film is not is a horror film even though its salacious title would suggest otherwise. The plot is not without its flaws most of which are in the middle act of the film after the death of the pledge. One has to wonder why Craig was so easily bullied by the other boys. He threatens to go to the cops many times only to be talked back down. The strongest part of the film is the way the story is initially laid out and the introduction of the main characters. The ending is an interesting twist that one can see coming long before the films big reveal.
One thing that I thoroughly enjoy about this film was the acting. Jeff East a former child star who gained fame working for Disney is cast in the lead role of Craig Lewis. In a lesser role that almost overshadows all the other performances is Charles Martin Smith as Barney the pledge who accidentally dies during hazing. Every tragedy needs a villain and in this film that role is played flawlessly by Brad David (The Candy Snatchers) the president of the sorority that Craig and Barney are pledging at. Other notable casting choices are David Hayward (Nashville) in the role of Craig’s older brother Carl who had attended the same college six years before and Kelly Moran as Craig’s girlfriend Wendy.
Ultimately The Curious Case of the Campus Corpse is forgettable film that never finds its identity.
The Curious Case of the Campus Corpse is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. There are nick, scratches and specs of dirt throughout. The print damage while present is not excessive or obtrusive. The colors look nicely saturated and details look sharp in the background and foreground.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. There some mild instances of background hiss and the audio while free of any major audio defects does leave room for improvement.
This release really excels in the extras department. Extras include the film’s original trailer and an alternate opening title sequence under the films alternate title “The Hazing”. Other extras include a forty four minute documentary titled Directing the Campus Corpse: a Look Back at “The Hazing”. This documentary includes interviews with director Douglas Curtis, actors Jeff East, David Hayward and Jim Boelsen. This is a well made documentary that leaves no stone unturned. Other extras include an audio commentary with director Douglas Curtis, actors Jeff East, David Hayward and Jim Boelsen. This audio commentary is moderated by Lee Christian. Some things that are discussed during the audio commentary is also covered in the documentary. Also include with this release is a photo/promotional art gallery, trailers for other titles also available from Shriek Show on DVD and a thirteen minute featurette titled “Campus Corpse: Alive & Well at the New Beverly Cinema”. This featurette includes a Q&A before the film was shown at the New Beverly Cinema and footage of fans meeting director Douglas Curtis, actors David Hayward and Jim Boelsen. Overall The Curious Case of the Campus Corpse gets a satisfying release that comes with an abundance of extras.