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Overall Rating

Awesome: 14.29%
Worth A Look: 17.14%
Average: 20%
Pretty Bad: 17.14%
Total Crap31.43%

1 review, 29 user ratings

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Sleepaway Camp
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by Scott Weinberg

"Grungy slasher fave with a historically nasty finale."
2 stars

I’ve always had a soft spot for the more mindless slasher flicks. Since I was forbidden to watch them as a kid, I logically found them as addicting as crack, and I spent many joyful weekends appreciating the gore-soaked forbidden fruit that my parents were so worried about.

Their concern was that the graphic violence and gore of the rougher slasher flicks would somehow warp my mind, and that I’d eventually grow up to be a stalker, a psychopath, or a politician. Mom and Dad needn’t have worried; it was their ‘no nasty horror movies’ edict that inadvertently turned me into a film critic. Ironic, huh?

One of the more fondly remembered slasher series of the 1980’s is the Sleepaway Camp trilogy. The sequels are lots of campy fun, but it seems that the original entry was the most popular - thanks mainly to its stunningly ‘out there’ surprise ending. (Sorry if I just spoiled anything for you, but any movie over 15 years old has certainly passed its ‘spoiler statute of limitations’.) Though I personally prefer Parts 2 and 3 to the initial entry, there’s more than enough campy mayhem in the first Sleepaway Camp to earn my recommendation. (This recommendation does come with one simple condition: you must be a fan of good ‘bad cinema’ to see where I’m coming from.)

As the movie opens, we see a young Dad and one of his children killed in a horrible boating accident. (These prologues always matter later on.) Flash forward to eight years later, and young Angela is about to embark on her first trip to overnight camp. Angela is basically a freak; she rarely speaks, opting instead to stare right through whoever happens to be nearby. The other campers forge an immediate dislike for young Angela, which proves to be their undoing as each one ends up murdered in rather graphic style.

Though it seems plainly clear that Angela is indeed the slasher in question, writer/director Michael Hiltzik cleverly plays up a mild ‘whodunnit’ scenario. Since the camp is packed to the gills with dirtballs and malcontents (plus we never really SEE Angela kill anyone), this direction lends a low-rent mystery attitude to the proceedings. Such distractions are welcome indeed, because when Sleepaway Camp focuses on something other than the rapidly growing pile of corpses, the movie nearly grinds to a halt.

There are a few limp portions of comedy material, and those early 80’s summer fashions are nothing short of criminally hilarious, but Sleepaway Camp is at its most entertaining during the garish murders. A signature of the film (indeed the whole series) is a rather colorful array of relatively unconventional murders. Sure, there are plenty of axes and butcher knives to go around, but it’s not every day you see a victim dispatched through use of scalding soup, to say nothing of a rather impressive murder on the archery range.

The acting is uniformly awful, but I don’t think it’s entirely fair to judge amateur actors by the same standard you’d use for a Robert De Niro. A few of the actors seem well aware of the stupidity in which they’re taking part, while only a few emote with that overbaked earnestness that comes from trying really hard. Felissa Rose is grating and irritating as Angela, but one can assume that was the intended character arc, so that may be an unfair criticism. The only performer who seems somewhat ‘at home’ while delivering his dialogue is Chris Collet, an actor who would go on to appear in movies like The Manhattan Project and Firstborn. Yet as bad as most of the acting is, there’s nothing more horrifying than those sickening short-shorts that all the BOY campers are forced to wear. Heck, I lived through 1983 and I don’t remember ever seeing anyone wear pants like that! So off-putting are these wardrobe choices that it makes an extended softball sequence look like gay porn.

Low-rent, low-budget, and often unintentionally hilarious, Sleepaway Camp holds a somewhat higher standing in the pantheon of 1980’s slasher flicks, partially because of its copious body count and nasty gore scenes, but mainly because of that stunner of a finale. You mad be hard pressed to remember anything about this movie two weeks after watching it, but that final shot will most likely remain permanently etched in your movie memory bank.

This DVD comes as part of Anchor Bay’s 3-disc “Sleepaway Camp Survival Kit”, which includes all three films - each with its own commentary track and small handful of extras - and comes housed in a rather cool slide-out case that looks like a First-Aid kit covered in blood. Once again, the fine folks at Anchor Bay deliver the goods for all us 30-year-old gorehounds.)

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originally posted: 05/03/04 20:21:00
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User Comments

8/15/11 tomas vitu what an ending, changes a comedy into purest horror, really disturbed the hell out of me. 4 stars
7/14/11 Beanz A twisted/disturbing message disguised as a shitty 80's movie. I am entranced by it's art. 5 stars
8/03/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess Angie's a boy!...Oh, and she's been killing people. 3 stars
11/07/07 art this film is CHOPPED LIVER 1 stars
7/01/07 John Elrod Unintentionally hilarious. I particularly enjoyed the fake mustache on the cop. 1 stars
1/12/07 Charles Tatum One good twist can't save an abysmal piece of crap 1 stars
12/29/06 David Pollastrini didn't see that twist coming! 3 stars
10/24/06 action movie fan surprisingly decent horror film-better the friday the 13 which it resembles 3 stars
2/17/06 Mark Louis Baumgart Saw this piece o'crap when it was first released, it has aged like old dog turds. Awful!!! 1 stars
2/06/06 Roger I had the misfortune to watch this when I was 9, and I've never been the same. Very freaky 4 stars
11/24/05 cr a pretty good little horror film , that kept you into it all way until the freaky ending 3 stars
11/09/05 Agent Sands I had no idea it was possible 2 have such a bad script so badly directed w/ such bad actors 1 stars
10/30/05 K. Sear Awful. I'm pretty sure watching it lowered my IQ by 75 points. 1 stars
8/31/05 ES Robert Hiltzik ladies and gentlemen <applause for f u>. Scott that's, that's not ironic 1 stars
4/27/05 f u fu previous reviewers 5 stars
1/05/05 Geo78665 One of the better Z-Grade slasher flicks. Great characters for this type of movie. 4 stars
11/02/04 cheer good if watched after mid-night. 4 stars
8/02/04 American Slasher Goddess Despite bad acting and some terrible dialogue at times, it's different with a killer ending 3 stars
9/26/03 Samuel Justus FUCKED UP!! And i feel fucked up having seen it! i want everyone to watch this movie!! 4 stars
6/04/03 Natalie Best ending in cinematic history 4 stars
3/26/03 Kyle Alright movie, great ending. 3 stars
3/20/03 Jack Sommersby One of the worst slasher flicks ever. Unbelievably lame. 1 stars
1/30/02 Andrew Carden Angela Was The One Who Saved This Movie, and Made It So great. 5 stars
8/02/01 Elgyn The best 80`s slasher flick. Wait till you see the ending! 5 stars
6/06/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) The SFX were PUTRID, even for the time. Okay premise, piss-poor execution. 1 stars
11/27/00 Mike Lake shitty, i dont know why i just didnt like this P.O.S.. dont rent it, see part II and III 1 stars
10/28/00 KEvin Macintosh YOUR CRAZY!!! THIS MOVIE ROcKED!!!! 5 stars
5/23/00 lucas jackson holy shit,whose idea was this crap 1 stars
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  18-Nov-1983 (R)



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