Sleepaway Camp (1983) is part of a series of films that I mostly watched entirely backwards while attending Kennesaw State University. This is also one that I wish would be shown at The Strand Theatre in The Marietta Square one Halloween. One night my dad stumbled across the Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989) on one of the movie channels and this writer knew these films would be some of my favorites. They are so insanely cheesy and that is part of why this writer loves them. A good cheesy horror film is just as good as one sometimes that can scare the hell out of audiences in my opinion. A lot of eighties horror could probably fall into the cheese category instead of the frightening category. Granted, there are horror films I will talk about later that fall into the latter for sure, but for now Sleepaway Camp must be talked about instead. After watching the third film there were aspects this writer did not understand. Later that same month, Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988) came on one of the movie channels as well and I found myself just as wrapped up in the second one as the third one. This is when this writer knew that renting the original film was a must. The odd part of stumbling into this series completely backwards was remembering the covers at video stores upon looking through all the titles to rent the first. Soon Sleepaway Camp was on its way to my mailbox. After completing an assignment that evening, this writer stayed up a little longer to watch the film.
The synopsis of Sleepaway Camp is a simple one. As the beginning of the film shows, a horrible boating accident kills a young girl named Angela’s (Felissa Rose) entire film. She is a shy girl, who is then forced to move in with her eccentric aunt Martha and her cousin Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten). Ricky is of course protective of Angela because of everything the young girl has already had to endure at such a young age. After all, one who has lost a parent knows that dealing with such grief is one of the hardest things one will ever have to deal with within their life. Instead of keeping the kids cooped up at home, one summer Martha gets the idea to send both Ricky and Angela to Camp Arawak. Soon after the arrival of the two children, a bizarre series of murders begin to take place to claim the lives of various campers. The campers that are being concentrated on however are those with impure thoughts and intentions that are far from being anything deemed honorable. Who are behind the murders? With a twist ending that no one sees coming, unless they read about it on a spoilers page, Sleepaway Camp is one of the more interesting horror films in the genre’s history.
In terms of acting, the two many people I feel the need to speak about are Rose and Tiersten. They did a terrific job given the roles they were given. The fact that the movie is written as campy sometimes does not help in terms of judging ones acting ability. With this said when one really dives into Angela’s character Rose gives a fantastic portrayal. That is part of what makes it so insane that she is not used in the other films. This is not to say that Pamela Springsteen does not do a terrific job of playing Angela in two of the sequels, but I still wonder why Rose was not cast. Maybe she did not want the part, but who knows. Tiersten is also the perfect as the overprotective cousin. At any given moment Tiersten is willing to stand up for his cousin as any good relative should be willing to do at any given moment. This writer also loves the fact that Tiersten returns to play Ricky in the last and fourth installment, Return to Sleepaway Camp (2008). With so many years in between the last installment to the fourth one, and even more between the original and the fourth film it is nice to know that some actors are willing to return to their roots.
In conclusion, Sleepaway Camp is one of the cult classics that any horror film owes it to himself or herself to watch. This is also one of those films that is really fun to watch with a group of people who have no idea about the ending. Obviously there are plenty of people who will, but seeing the reactions of people who have never seen the film is quite classic. From a personal standpoint, this writer was still shocked by the time I got around to seeing the original film. My father had not filled me in on anything other than he loved the series and he thought I would too. One of my other favorite stories comes from my best friend who insisted on showing the film to her brother. He had quite the reaction to the ending and to this day I am still quite amused by knowing such. So rent Sleepaway Camp today. This is a horror classic that provides shock and many comedic undertones. If one is into some homedys (horror/comedys) this is a great way to go this Halloween season.
If you are interested in renting Sleepaway Camp, make sure to check out this title through Netflix, your local Austell Blockbuster, Videodrome, Movies Worth Seeing, or movie channels based upon your cable or satellite provider. To purchase any Blu-rays or DVDs mentioned in this review please check out your local Austell Best Buy, Walmart, Target, or Kmart.