We all know from watching movies that camping can be downright deadly, and the film Sleepaway Camp does confirm this. After all, it’s tagline is “you won’t be coming home”. It was released in 1983 during the slasher movie era which consisted of fare such as Halloween and Friday the 13th, but Sleepaway Camp featured a very different type of serial killer which allowed it to separate itself from the rest of the pack. And if you’re looking for a low-budget, cheesy ’80s horror flick, this is it.
We meet Angela, who lives with her cousin Ricky and her Aunt Martha after surviving a boating accident that killed her family eight years earlier. Angela and Ricky are being sent to Camp Arawak for the summer. Angela, however, is painfully shy and withdrawn which only subjects her to ridicule and bullying by the other campers and camp counselors. Just as Angela finally starts opening up when Ricky’s friend Peter expresses interest in her, accidents start occurring around the camp. A kitchen worker is scalded by a huge pot of boiling water, a camper is found drowned in a lake, and another camper is killed by a swarm of bees in a bathroom. Who is behind these accidents? It all finally builds up to just plain bloody murder by the end. And oh, what an ending! This movie pretty much boasts one of the most shocking twist scenes out there (although there are seeds planted from the beginning if you pay attention). The final scene pretty much just burns itself into your memory for eternity.
Compared with other slasher films, Sleepaway Camp is definitely on the low budget scale. Bad acting, a silly script, and unnecessarily drawn out dramatic scenes all add up to a film that’s so bad it’s great. I loved the scene when the kitchen cook is just laying on the floor screaming in agony after having a giant pot of boiling water dumped on him. He continuously screams in a great feat of over-acting for what seems like a pretty long time. And we also get to revisit the fashion of the early eighties era which included the cut off t-shirts and the very tight, high-waisted camp shorts!
I enjoyed watching this in the theater, because the film is just hilarious and is all the better while viewing it with a good crowd of people. This was my first time watching this movie, and it was worth it. Sleepaway Camp also spawned several sequels which I haven’t seen, but I’m sure nothing holds up to the original shocker.
Psycho Cinema is group that meets at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Winchester at least once a week to watch horror, sci-fi, cult, and other beyond the fringe movies. Keep up with this blog for more updates and movie reviews from this group. Check out their movie schedule for June 2015 here, and be sure to read Leigh’s review of Kung Fu Killer!