The year is 1979 and you are camp counselors who are being stalked through a maze of cabins and camp trails by Otis, a homicidal killer that wears a bear mask. Welcome to Camp Grizzly, a survival horror board game that has already reached its goal on Kickstarter and has more than doubled it.

I knew this was something that Daily Dead readers would be really excited to learn more about, so I got in touch with Jason Peter Topolski and Austin Madison of Ameritrash Games to learn all about their project. Continue reading to find out how this game evolved from an idea they had in high school in the 90's, what the extra Kickstarter funds will bring to the final product, future release plans, and their interest in a Camp Grizzly movie:

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Can you tell our readers how you came up with the idea for Camp Grizzly?

Jason: Camp Grizzly first started when my brother Collin and I were in high school in the mid 90's. We watched a lot of 'USA Up All Night' horror movies and played poker with our friends. So we combined the two and came up with a Russian roulette style game where the face cards were killers. At the time, we called it Camp Deadly.

Austin: When I came on the project, Jay already had an idea of the tone and the types of characters he would want. As we play-tested with friends, the personalities and back-stories of the characters began to emerge, and pretty soon we had a world with its own unique gore-lore.

For those who aren't familiar with the game, can you give us a brief overview of the game and what sets it apart from other horror-themed board games?

Austin: Camp Grizzly is a cooperative-survival game that parodies of 1970s/1980s camp slasher films. What drew me to the project was the humor behind the gore. Unlike most horror-themed games, our characters actually act like dumb teenagers. The deck is full of the type of moments that would have a movie audience screaming, "Don't go in there!" So players have to use a lot of strategy and cooperation to overcome their characters' hormonal heroes.

I understand that the game has been in development for a number of years. How has the game evolved over time? Are there any major changes/additions that you've made for the final version?

Jason: After the Russian roulette version, sometime during College, the game turned into more of a board game with Counselor pawns and a straight row of thirteen piles of cards we called, 'cabins'. The counselors moved across the cabin decks hoping to make it to the end of the row without getting butchered by a killer face card. Eventually, the regular playing cards were replaced by prototype cards with written rules including simple weapons, items, injury cards, story cards and killer cards. Counselors had stats and health bars. After a lot of testing, it was shelved. It was too random, too easy to be killed and there were no real choices. It was another 10 years before Camp Grizzly was given a board and the whole thing snapped into place. Multiple locations for finales, objectives, locked doors and nature trails were all added giving the players many more strategic choices and replay-ability.

Obviously, you guys are fans of 70s/80s horror movies. What are your favorite slasher films and why?

Jason: My favorite slasher movies include the original Halloween, Friday the 13th (of course), Slumber Party Massacre, Scream, Behind the Mask, Hatchet. The big attraction for me was that I was not allowed to watch horror movies as a child. In grade school, my friends would tell me about Jason, Freddy, Michel Meyers, and all the horrifying details. Imagine trying to understand Hellraiser through a 5th grader's second hand description. Later, I went nuts in the $1 rental section of my local video store. I even watched all the Troma movies.

Other favorite horror movies include: Dead Alive (aka Brain Dead), Evil Dead 2, the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (gritty gritty gritty!), Phantasm, Poltergeist, Cabin in the Woods, Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead (best movie ever).

Austin: I actually wasn't a huge horror fan when I came on the project. Jay gave me a stack of films to study as homework, and I dutifully watched each of them with my then-girlfriend (which is probably why she isn't my now-girlfriend). I found that the funnier films tend to have more developed characters, so "Evil Dead," "Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon," and "Cabin in the Woods" quickly became favorites.

I really love the Camp Grizzly art style. Was there any specific inspiration for the look of the game/characters?

Austin: Thanks! I was very inspired by the art of the period (late 70s). We wanted the game to feel like it might have come from that era, so there is a very strong Mort Drucker/Jack Davis influence. I'm a big fan of Jordie Bellaire's comic color work, especially her Rocketeer run, so we were elated when she took the job.

Every slasher movie has their iconic villain and so does Camp Grizzly. What can you tell us about the creation of Otis and how he's incorporated into the game?

Austin: Yeah, when it comes to horror, the story is only as good as its villain. The trick to Otis was creating a character who was both unique AND instantly emblematic of the classic slasher villains. Jay had always known that the killer was going to be a big guy in a bear mask, to play off the title "Camp Grizzly" (which was then "Camp Grisly"). To me, the creepiest characters always have a hint of something innocent gone wrong (like dolls and clowns). So I wanted the mask to look as natural, neutral, and benign as possible, so that the carnage seemed that much crueler.

Jason: Otis went through some tough times early on. Before donning his signature Bear mask, he had bag head phase, a mutant scout master phase, a Sloth phase. There's this great rough that Austin did of a lumbering Otis in the bear mask holding the hand of a horrified camper. That's when we knew we had him.

When it comes to the actual gameplay, does Camp Grizzly have a high replay value? Will each experience be vastly different? How?

Austin: Absolutely! I love games like Munchkin and Dominion, which are all about card combinations and customization. By the end of Camp Grizzly, your counselor is this grizzled horror veteran with an assortment of items, weapons, and skills. On your first game, the cheerleader Tracy might be a simpering, skinny-dipping bimbo, and the next game she might be a chainsaw-toting, ass-kicking scream queen. It's all in the luck of the draw.

Jason: Every game is different. There are so many possibilities in the Cabin Deck that you are often surprised by the combinations of cameos, campers, items, and weapons that appear. There are also multiple game finales to experience.

Congratulations on getting your Kickstarter project funded! With the project nearly doubling its goal, how will this help improve the final game?

Austin: What I'm most excited for is the possibility of more collaboration. We already have the amazing Jordie Bellaire doing colors and Jonathan Kuo providing box art, but the extra funds will allow us to hire a musician for an interactive soundtrack and a sculptor to bring our designs to life.

Jason: It's already helped us add more Counselors, Finales, and depth to the game.

What do you have planned for the future of Camp Grizzly? Will we see additional expansions released after the main game comes out?

Austin: Oh yeah, Jay and I are always pitching new ideas to each other. With the versatile gaming system that Jay has concocted, we'll be exploring Otis's backwoods family, the all-girls' camp across the lake, and the insane asylum just down the road.

Jason: There's also another full board we've had in mind to connect to the main game. The expansion is as big as the main game. With our success on Kickstarter, it's highly likely that we'll be able to release this expansion in 2015.

I noticed mention of a movie on the Kickstarter page. Is this something you're seriously considering? I'd think it's something that your growing fanbase would be very excited to see.

Austin: If we hit a million, I would be glad to film a movie! Living in Northern California, we have plenty of forests and camp grounds for Otis to terrorize and when it comes to special effects, well, let's just say we know a few world-class animators.

Jason: With funding I would do it in a second.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?

Austin / Jason: Thanks for taking the time to check out our Kickstarter, and if you like what you see, please pass the word along. There's no better Christmas gift than a stocking full of ho-ho-horror!


To learn more about Camp Grizzly, check out the trailer below. You can also check out their official Kickstarter page and Ameritrash website. We've also been provided with more than a dozen pieces of artwork, including some you can only see here. Look for more coverage on Camp Grizzly in the coming months.