Saturday, July 4, 2009

Horror Movie Review: Sleepaway Camp

Sleepaway Camp

Starring: Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten, Karen Fields, Christopher Collet, Mike Kellin, and Katherine Kamhi

Written by: Robert Hiltzik

Directed by: Robert Hiltzik

Production Date: American Eagle

Release Date: November 18, 1983

Summer camp has become a place of horror since the 1980s when Mrs. Voorhees sought vengeance for the death of her son in Friday the 13th. Considered one of the best summer camp horrors, except for The Burning about a former summer camp caretaker who is horribly burned from a prank gone wrong, who lurks around an upstate New York summer camp bent on killing the teenagers responsible for his disfigurement and a few of the Voorhees vehicles, is Sleepaway Camp.

Sleepaway Camp follows cousins Angela and Ricky as they attend Camp Arawak. Ricky is your typical youth except for his extremely vulgar language and protectiveness of his cousin. Angela, on the other hand, doesn't talk, doesn't eat, and doesn't do anything. "If she were any quieter, she'd be dead!" according to counslor Meg.

At Camp Arawak we find the worst: the worst campers and the worst camp employees. The head cook is a pedophile, the couselors are crule, and the head of the camp is a judgemental, cigar chomping, manipulative perv. With these guardians, the campers, of course, resort to the worst behavior, using bad language and bullying each other. Ricky's anger and Angela's timidness are certainly justified.

There seems to be a ray of hope for Angela as Paul, Ricky's friend, takes a liking to her. Paul seems to be a good kid and it's good to see him get Angela out of her shell.

But to make things worse, people start dying. A pot of boiling water falls on the cook, a counselor gets killed in the bathroom by bees, and a camper drowns. Mel, the owner of the camp, does his best to keep things quiet to insure he'll have campers next year, but eventually rumors of a camp killer begin to spread.

Who's going to get killed next? Is anyone safe? And who is the killer?

Made on $350,000, a pittance of a budget by today's standards and only half Friday the 13th's budget 3 years earlier, Sleepaway Camp suffers from your standard B-Movie weaknesses. Poor acting, cheesy effects, etc. There's no humor, here, and no nudity...well, not what you'd expect, anyway. The effects are overdone and unrealistic, but certainly work for shocks and gross out reactions.

So without the breasts or the bwa-ha-ha, what makes this B-Movie appealing? Partly the earnestness at which they approached this horror film, but the ending makes this film a cult classic. Taking the too-much-is-enough theory used in their effects into the final scene's acting and portrayal with a shocking revelation which, even if you figured out before hand, considering the release date you can't be so sure they're actually going to do, makes Sleepaway Camp one of the slasher greats. There may be unintentional humor from the quality, but I found the sincere effort in making the film as good a horror as possible to offset any chuckles I may have had at the acting and production.

Be sure to check it out...just don't come in assuming you know what to expect.

Related Videos

Sleepaway Camp II - Unhappy Campers

Angela returns to summer camp, this time Camp Rolling Hills, and this time as a camp counselor. But things start turning all too familiar when campers begin to die.


Dead and Gone

Felissa Rose appears in Dead and Gone released July 2008. A struggling actor moves his comatose wife to their isolated cabin, where he begins to have disturbing interactions with the unconscious woman.

Return to Sleepaway Camp

Johnathan Tiersten returns as Ricky in Return to Sleepaway Camp released November 4, 2008. It's summer camp as usual at Camp Manabe where the kids torment each other for fun while the underpaid camp staff provides as little supervision as possible. Greedy camp owner Frank and junior partner Ronnie do their best to keep everyone in line, but something sinister is about to put a slash in the roster. When campers and staff mysteriously begin disappearing and turning into gruesome corpses, paranoid Ronnie can't shake the memory of a series of grisly murders that took place at Camp Arawak, where he worked two decades earlier. Has a ghost from the past come back to haunt him? As the paranoia worsens, Ronnie's list of possible killers starts growing just like the body count. Everyone becomes a suspect from vicious kids to shady members of the camp staff, and even former Camp Arawak camper Ricky who mysteriously works nearby. Who is knocking off these victims and why? Only one thing is for certain, something is carving a bloody new trail at Sleepaway Camp where kids can be so mean and surviving this summer is gonna be a real killer!

The Langoliers

Christopher Collet stars in the 1995 TV movie The Langoliers. Most of the passengers on an airplane disappear, and the remainder land the plane in a mysteriously barren airport.

Just Before Dawn

Mike Kellin, who played Camp Arawak's owner Mel, starred in the 1981 horror thriller Just Before Dawn. Five campers arrive in the mountains to examine some property they have bought, but are warned by the forest ranger Roy McLean that a huge machete-wielding maniac has been terrorising the area. Ignoring the warnings, they set up camp, and start disappearing one by one. If that sounds too run-of-the-mill, there's a genuinely shocking plot twist half-way through...

Silent Madness

Crule counselor Meg was played by Katherine Kamhi who also appeared in 1984's Silent Madness. A homicidal maniac is accidentally released from a hospital because of a computer error and heads to the site (a sorority) of his past murders to continue his penchant for mayhem. Dr. Joan Gilmore takes off after him while the hospital administrators cover up the mistake and send some staff thugs out to get both the doctor and the escaped lunatic. A clip, not a trailer...

The Burning

Another horror film located at a summer camp. A former summer camp caretaker, horribly burned from a prank gone wrong, lurks around an upstate New York summer camp bent on killing the teenagers responsible for his disfigurement.

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