Follow TV Tropes


Creator / Doug Campbell

Go To
When you direct an average of three films a year, it makes sense that you'd have a look of Dull Surprise on the set.

Doug Campbell (born 1964) is an American director, writer and producer.

A graduate of the California Institute of the Arts, where he studied filmmaking under Alexander Mackendrick (Whisky Galore!. The Ladykillers (1955), Sweet Smell of Success), Campbell directed his first film, the 1988 Erotic Thriller Season of Fear, at age 24. After bouncing around between episodic television, documentaries and straight-to-video movies for a while, he found his niche in 2009 when he directed his first Lifetime movie, Accused at 17. Since then, he's directed over 30 films for Lifetime.

Along with fellow Lifetime auteur David DeCoteau, Campbell has a fair claim for being the modern Roger Corman, with his quickly-shot No Budget films, revolving around lurid Exploitation Film plots, but also with a knack for Black Comedy and Camp. Campbell's two main modes are movies centering on a deranged Yandere authority figure (a high school teacher, a nun, a heart surgeon) and Teen Drama where the Na´ve Everygirl protagonist gets mixed up in nasty business (bank robberies, voyeurism, diamond smuggling).

Campbell also teaches filmmaking at Academy of Arts University in San Francisco.

Doug Campbell films on TV Tropes:

Tropes common to his films:

  • Beauty Is Bad: His villains tend to be drop-dead gorgeous women or ruggedly handsome men.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: Campbell's movies are unusual in the Lifetime world because their heroines are sometimes flawed and imperfect. Stalked By My Neighbor's Jodi is a prime example of Rape as Backstory, but she's also paranoid and starts taking secret photos of her neighbors, then does a 180 and falls in love with her prime suspect in her neighbor's murder when he tells her has a crush on her. Claire in Stalked By My Mother, rather than the morally impeccable Mama Bear that Lifetime loves, is possessive and high-strung, and gets targeted by the villain because of one of her past confrontations that drove the other person to suicide.
  • Camp: Campbell is probably Lifetime's most self-aware director, specializing in overbaked Melodrama with blatantly contrived plotlines, and some truly off-the-wall touches. Someone who writes and directs a scene (in Stalked By My Doctor: The Return) where a stalker cooks and eats pancakes shaped in the letters of the name of his object of desire (AMY, in this case) is clearly in on the joke. In fact, his main flaw might be that sometimes he gets too campy. His contribution to Lifetime's Fear the Cheer event in 2021, Pom Poms and Payback, got slammed for being way too over-the-top and deliberately cheesy (according to its IMDB page, Allison McAtee, who played the villain in the notoriously wacky Deadly Mile High Club, turned down the villain role because she thought it was too outlandish).
  • Complexity Addiction: His villains tend to cook up insanely elaborate schemes, usually centered on a Batman Gambit, with fake identities, planting of evidence and benign characters who end up being secret accomplices being common ingredients as well.
  • Darker and Edgier: My Daughter's Ransom stands out among his Lifetime movies for having a truly evil, disturbing villain (the heroine's convicted murderer ex-boyfriend), who's also a Smug Snake who Would Hurt a Child (he directly threatens the young daughter with a knife), plus a scene where the heroine narrowly avoids becoming the victim of a gang rape at a bar.
  • Descended Creator: Via appearing in a Tragic Keepsake photo, he plays the role of the late husband/father of the mother-daughter protagonists of Secrets in the Building.
  • Lifetime Movie of the Week: He's become one of the most prolific directors of these in the last decade, and among the most successful, with Stalked By My Doctor and Deadly Mile High Club gaining cult followings.
  • Na´ve Everygirl: His favored protagonist type, who ends up getting victimized by a Yandere or a Manipulative Bastard (or both). She usually ends up needing to be rescued by a Mama Bear.
  • No Budget: His films are largely shot on location without any real "name" performers. Since he tends to focus on a genre (Thriller) that doesn't rely too much on special effects, Campbell can usually succeed in making his films look polished, but Special Effects Failure can happen sometimes (the overdone CGI explosion in Stalked By My Mother, the radio control model airplanes for the wide shots in Deadly Mile High Club).
  • Production Posse: Campbell works with Johnson Production Group on his Lifetime movies, and their producers Timothy O. Johnson and Robert Ballo. Campbell writes a lot of his own scripts, but has also worked multiple times with writers Christine Conradt and Barbara Kymlicka. A lot of actors and actresses pop up multiple times in his movies, like Amy Pietz, Cynthia Gibb, Josie Davis, Darlene Vogel, Lesli Kay, Barbara Niven, Damon K. Sperber, Crystal Allen, Anna Marie Dobbins, Diane Robin, Shelby Yardley, Juliana Destefano, Kelcie Stranahan (basically his Grace Kelly, having starred in three of his films) and of course Eric Roberts as Stalked By My Doctor's Albert Beck.
  • Psychological Thriller: His favored genre, often with extremely convoluted plots.
  • Self-Plagiarism: Some blatant examples in his filmography. Bad Sister is basically Dirty Teacher set in Catholic school, while Driven to Kill (aka Wheels of Beauty) is nearly a Shot for Shot Remake of Deadly Mile High Club, simply performing a Gender Flip on the two main characters and changing the vehicles from planes to race cars.
  • Shout-Out: Campbell clearly loves the work of Alfred Hitchcock, and will usually stick a Hitchcock homage somewhere in his movies. Sometimes it's obvious, like Stalked By My Neighbor basically being a Teen Drama version of Rear Window, the finale of Deadly Mile High Club being based on the crop duster scene of North By Northwest, or murder in the shower in Bad Sister. Other times, he picks less-famous Hitchcock films, like borrowing the "car with sabotaged brakes careens down a steep, winding mountain road" scene from Family Plot for Pom Poms and Payback. There's also Diane Baker (Lil Mainwaring in Marnie) appearing in The Surrogate.
  • Shown Their Work: A lot of his movies have plot points based on arcane facts. Bad Sister and Stalked By My Doctor: The Return both have villains whose real identities are exposed in part because they're unaware of certain details about cities where they claim to have lived before (Missoula, Montana and Salt Lake City, Utah respectively). Double Mommy is about a teen girl who becomes pregnant with twins fathered by two different boys, a very rare but completely genuine phenomenon called "heteropaternal superfecundation".
  • Yandere: Several of his movies revolve around a stalker with a Mask of Sanity who goes to incredible lengths to get into his or her intended target's pants, as well as to eliminate any potential romantic rivals.