Sleepaway Camp, 1983.
Directed by Robert Hiltzick.
Starring Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten, and Desiree Gould.
A summer camp turns disastrous when it emerges there’s a killer amongst the campers.
Taking obvious inspiration from Friday the 13th (1980), this camp-based slasher still manages to find an original spin on what was rapidly becoming a tired genre. Sleepaway Camp may have all the trappings one would expect from a slasher film, but it also features a delightfully barmy plot with a great reveal. Admittedly this is hardly a brilliant film, but it is enjoyable.
Sleepaway Camp opens with a tragic lake accident which kills a father and son but leaves a daughter alive. Eight years later and Angela (Felissa Rose), the daughter, is a quiet child forced to live with her unusual Aunt Martha (Desiree Gould) and well-meaning cousin Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten). The two kids are sent packing to a summer camp, but Angela is cruelly bullied and Ricky can do little to help her. That’s when the murders begin.
The makeup effects are fairly impressive and the murders rarely push into implausibility, but where Sleepaway Camp gets really interesting is in the depiction of the kid’s behaviours and the dark themes that are hinted at. There’s a suggestion of paedophilia which is quite unsettling, but the adults are suitably punished and any kids guilty of deviant behaviour soon find themselves in danger. Sleepaway Camp boasts several memorable moments, but one scene in particular has granted this movie an unshakeable reputation. I unfortunately went into the film already aware of certain events, which may have slightly hampered my enjoyment. Don’t get me wrong, I still had a good time but it really is advisable to go in knowing as little as possible. This also makes the task of reviewing the film quite challenging, as I don’t wish to give away too much but I do want to instil a desire to hunt this film down and get it watched. If it helps, I do heartily recommend.
There’s only really one criticism I have with Sleepaway Camp, and that’s the acting. Surprisingly, the kids are all tolerable and any fumbles can be easily forgiven, but the adult actors ham it up to distraction. Certain lines are delivered in a manner which results in unintended amusement and detracts from any atmosphere director Robert Hiltzick attempts to employ. That complaint aside, Sleepaway Camp is a fun experience that will linger in the memory whilst many other similar slashers fade into obscurity.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★