Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wrapping Things Up: Sleepaway Camp

Hide your bitchy campers and callous counselors!  1983's Sleepaway Camp has become a cult classic over the last quarter of a century.  In other words, nobody really got famous from this.  No Cast or Crew went on to be big movie stars, nor did the Director.  It's no Evil Dead II in terms of making stars, is what I'm trying to say.  In fact, it took the original Director 20 years to actually shoot his own sequel...and another five years to actually get it released...on DVD.  Let's stay focused on the film at hand though.  The film is most famous for its twist ending, one that I'm going to assume that you know about.  If not, do a Google Image search for 'Sleepaway Camp Twist Ending' & make sure to turn off the Filter.  Once you've done that and finished cleaning up your spit-take, we can continue.  Is this film more than just 85 minutes setting up a notable ending?  To find out, read on...
A tragic accident occurs on a lake as a father and child are killed.  It makes this young lady overact the hell out of this scene.  You're not Meryl, honey.
Several years later and we see shy Angela and her cousin being sent off to camp for the summer.  In hindsight, it helps the twist more if you don't establish that he's her cousin.

Plus, I'm skipping over the Aunt who is possibly the worst actress of all-time here.  Picture a drunk lady doing an impression of Judy Garland & you have her performance.
The first of many attacks/kills in the film involves the Cook getting oil dumped all over himself after attempting to molest Angela.  Oddly, this same scene kills the Cook in the sequel/remake from 2008.  Science has devolved, apparently.
The killer continues to take out people at the camp.  This guy tips his own boat over, just in time for a mysterious person to drown him.  Considering who the killer is, how weak is this guy?
Bees- my God.  Internet meme aside, I question who they could do this to a human body.  Killing you- maybe.  Turning you into the burn victim from Patrick Still Lives- doubtful.
In a truly-enlightened, '80s moment, Angela's make-out session with a nice boy is broken up when she flashes back to seeing her dad almost kiss a guy in bed.  Really?  You guys should be glad that GLAAD didn't exist until 1985!
As the bodies pile up, we are finally shown a flashback to Peter, being forced to act like a girl.  Why is the house lit so poorly by the way?  Does Peter/Angela dream in lazy set design?  All of this is, of course, leading up to...
Yowza!  Shock value aside, there are some questions.  What was the point of being naked?  What is that scream about?  Why just stand there to be arrested?  According to the sequels, that's exactly what happened.  The End.
You can't sleep this film away!  The plot of this movie is interesting, although it hinges on a lot of things.  You have to accept that everyone at camp is an asshole of some kind.  There are maybe three nice people in the movie...and one of them is Angela.  Another thing to note that there is a lot of profanity in this movie, most of it for no good reason.  Did Robert Hiltzik think that every 12-year old talked like Dennis Leary?  I should also mention that the relationships in camp are a little odd, including the middle-aged Owner apparently having an affair with a 24-year old Counselor.  How much of a gold-digger are you?  Plus, how much 'gold' is there even to 'dig?'  Let's talk about the real draw- the kills.  The make-up effects are actually good, another nod for me towards practical effects.  I question why the guy in the stall doesn't just crawl under the door though.  I also question how Angela/Peter drowns that one guy when he/she can't weigh more than 80lbs!  I do give Hitlzik some credit for subtle touches to disguise the twist, including crediting Felissa Rose among four other random actors in the opening credits.  There are some pretty blatant hints throughout, especially since Ricky is not a good red herring.  As a whole, it touches on the same notes as Hiltzik's Return to Sleepaway Camp, but features a lead character who's not totally awful.  Take us away, really-obvious fake mustache...
Up next, I cover the first- and final- Return of the Living Dead.  Will nostalgia and humor keep it relevant after 26 years?  Stay tuned...


  1. Desiree Gould is great in this movie. If you think her acting was "bad" you completely missed the point.

  2. Is that you, Desiree?

    To be fair, acting in a film is a multi-person affair. Good actors can be shit if given bad material or no direction- i.e. 1981's Clash of the Titans. Likewise, sub-par actors can be terrible with bad direction- i.e. Troll 2.

    I hold no ill will towards Desiree in regards to her performance. I just found her character to be incredibly-annoying. If that was the direction given to her, I can understand.

    It still doesn't make me like her character or her performance here.

    P.S. I'm not going to approve comments that are just profanity directed at me. Grow up and speak your mind.