Back in 1983, there was one film released that, while it isn’t as well known as Friday the 13th or Halloween or A Nightmare on Elm Street, is definitely worth the 88 minute run time and then some. Sleepaway Camp, though it may seem like the average slasher, is far from it. From the sad opening to the shocking end (good gawd!), it keeps you interested and intrigued.
Angela (Felissa Rose) is a strange and quiet child who becomes the target for bullies, lead by Judy (Karen Fields) because, well… Judy’s a Judy. Angela’s cousin, Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten), is a foul-mouthed little boy who would do more than threaten her tormenters to defend her. Paul (Christopher Collet), Ricky’s best friend, is instantly attracted to the newest camper and quickly begins chasing after her.
Hiltzik breathed new life into the slasher genre; though he used tried and true tropes of first person kills, naughty teens in danger and clueless authority figures, the final product is like nothing you’ve seen before.
Damn. That twist ending is… twisted.
Rose does a fine job as poor Angela, the nearly mute girl constantly be accosted by the older, meaner kids. Fields is pure evil as she torments the hell out of Angela, for no other reason than the fun of it. Tiersten shines as the potty-mouth protector (I’m surprised he didn’t get more work after Sleepaway Camp hit theaters) and Collet is wonderful as the love sick boy desperate to win the girl.
The murders, obviously what one watches a slasher for, range from created (hive) to demented (hair curler); the camp killer is seriously sick and, because so many victims are scumbags, you’ll be cheering them on.
Until the end; there’s two spots where murder was uncalled for and it kind of made me not enjoy the carnage as much. Seriously, was that necessary? No. Honestly, they’re the films only real misses but so much else goes right with the film, they can be overlooked. Mostly.
Really, Sleepaway Camp is a lot of fun; its violent, funny and bloody and far better than some other, and more well known, series (I’m looking at you, Jason). So go check it out and you’ll be treated to one of the more creative horror flicks of the 80s.
Oh, and have I mentioned that ending?