Internet

Why Obsession Matters

Entry in The Daily Ping

One of my favorite quotes comes from the John Waters film Pecker: “Life is nothing without obsession.” To adapt that phrase to the Internet, the web is nothing without obsession. All of the best content is grown from an obsession with obscure topics and a very specific focus. Like toilets and Oreos.

Nowhere is this more obvious than with what has unfolded over the last eight years with regards to the obscure 80s slasher gem Sleepaway Camp. I personally got into this film when I was younger thanks to Pinger Dave (capital D), whose uncle played a gay father who was runover by a speedboat. On the surface, the movie doesn’t seem to be anything more than a basic Friday the 13th ripoff, yet the movie has quite the cult following. By 1998, there wasn’t much on the web that showed that cult following, though.

Then, two web sites started independently devoted to Sleepaway Camp and its two sequels (which, incidentally, starred Bruce Springsteen’s sister as the murderous Angela). One of these web sites grew to become Sleepawaycampmovies.com and the person who started the other is now running a Sleepaway Camp blog. There were Yahoo! groups, arguments, picture wars between sites… it got to be a little messy. Even the duo that teamed up on Sleepawaycampmovies.com had some personal issues and a second site split off of that, Sleepawaycampfilms.com (are you keeping up?). It got to a point where the SCfilm.com forum visitors were constantly taking shots at the SCmovies.com site and webmaster. Things seem to have lightened up in recent years.

Not only did all this obsession result in some great content and soap opera-like drama, but it resulted in some great new stuff for fans of the series. Thanks to SCmovies.com, a fourth movie in the series was completed, Return to Sleepaway Camp (disclosure: I appear in RTSC in a very high profile role as a counselor… actually, it’s more like an extra role and will only be about ten seconds, but still…). This was a huge feat not only because it gathered together many of the original cast, but because it brought director Robert Hiltzik out of retirement. The last, and only, movie that he shot was the original Sleepaway Camp in the early 1980s.

Thanks to the proprietors of both SCmovies.com and SCfilms.com, all three movies in the series were released on DVD with commentaries featuring those very proprietors. In years past, fans had to rely on local video stores remainder bins for copies of Sleepaway Camp, but now they’re readily accessible in a nice DVD set. It should be noted that there was plenty of drama surrounding the DVD version of the original film because it was missing some footage. To give you an idea of how meticulous and obsessive fans can be, these were cuts that were so minor that not even the director of the film noticed them. Basically, it was one shot less of manbutt, a couple seconds cut from a gore shot, and a few lines of dialogue.

The person who runs the blog linked above made a trip to where Sleepaway Camp was shot (well, actually, just across the lake from it) and took lots of photos. As far as I know, that’s the only time anyone has documented what that area looks like now.

It’s thanks to all of these obsessive fans that we have not only great web content, but a new sequel (that will see the light of day at some point) and a solid DVD set. Life truly is nothing without obsession.

Update: Looks like I underestimated the obsession. The aforementioned blogger also still has a separate SC site and there’s another SC blog run by John over at SCfilms.com.

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