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A Life at the Movies: Sleepaway Camp

Excuse me while I faint. Someone with a brain.. Someone.. who.. DIDN’T SAY SLEEPAWAY CAMP WAS A FRIDAY THE 13TH RIP OFF!.. Someone who said.. IT IS BETTER THAN FRIDAY THE 13TH…!!! The world must be ending, no question now.

“Sleepaway Camp is at least 10 times more enjoyable than Friday the 13th, which proceeded it by three years and more or less set the tone for the teen slasher genre. It is probably a hundred times more enjoyable.”

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“Re: Good movie, but….”

This is a great theory, that Sleepaway Camp was somehow a parody of horror movies, like Student Bodies. Unfortunately it is not true. Sleepaway Camp is a very serious film.

Also, this person has no research skills. If he had any he would have discovered that the players of Sleepaway Camp actually dabbled in daytime drama. Haters never know as much as they think they do, that’s for sure. This is his review, which isn’t very well written.

Sleepaway Camp (1983)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
a real howler, 27 September 2004

My friend and I have been holding bad film festivals for the last few months. Our latest “stinkaroma” consisted of “Leprechaun”, “Slumber Party Massacre II”, “Friday the 13th – The Final Chapter” and this film, the howlingly bad “Sleepaway Camp.” Where do I start with this “Friday the 13th” clone? Maybe the deliriously inept “performances.” I don’t even think these actors could make it on “Days of Our Lives.” How about the laughable dialogue and non-existent direction. The uniformally obnoxious characters, pitiful plot and amateurish editing? Or the stupid murder scenes? Death by curling iron? Whatever. I won’t even mention the atrocious ending. But the acting and dialogue are good for laughs and there’s a lot of scantily-clad guys. I might rent it again sometime, after I have recovered, in about five years. Avoid the sequels, which are even worse. Maybe I’ll choose them for my next stink fest. No Stars (of four).

SOURCE: Reviews written by registered user g_monte

Sleepaway Camp goes to college

SOURCE: Post #309

I was so blown away by this. From a member on the Bloody Disgusting forum:

Austin Harris austin89126@hotmail.com

12/19/11

to me
What’s up? This is Austin from the BD fourm

Here’s what happened…

I was in a Gender and Sexuality in the Horror film class at the University of North Texas in the Spring of 2011. The class was taught by an awesome professor with a tremendous passion, like myself, for horror movies. We began with the history of the genre and worked our way up to present day, exploring the different sub genres & their gender and sexuality characteristics, themes, aesthetics, trends, styles etc. I was very excited to be taking the class and it was one of the best courses I took in my college career. We would cover a topic, screen a film that was chosen by our professor as an example and then discuss the film. We screened the original Sleepaway Camp in class during our discussion of 80′s slasher films as an example. I was able to get the director of Sleepaway Camp, Robert Hiltzik to do a Q&A through Skype with my class. I was able to get into contact with him through one of his daughters, whom I contacted via social media. I got into contact with her originally because I am friends with Felissa and her husband, Deron via social media as well. Deron is from a band called CKY and they use to feature Angela on the cover of one of their EP’s, as well as on t-shirts. I am a diehard fan of CKY and Deron was a big fan of the film and recommend it on CKY’s website. His love for the film eventually ended up in him and the band on Return to Sleepaway Camp’s set and they had a small cameo. Deron and Felissa met on set and the rest is history. So through Deron and Felissa, I contacted Hiltzik’s daughter and explained to her the class and everything and asked if it was possible to get Robert to Skype with us. I put her into contact with my professor and made it happen. We screened the film and then the following week at the beginning of class we got to do a Q and A with him. His daughter got it all set up as he was a little unfamiliar with Skype. We spoke with him for roughly 20/25 minutes and asked him various things about the movie from the wardrobe to the comedic dialogue in parts to the gore and kills. He was a very cool, informative guy and easy going. It was great to have him Skype with the class and we were appreciative that he took the time to do it and answer questions. I unfortunately didn’t make an A in the class, which was a little upsetting, because nobody else in the class got a cult horror films director to speak with us. Shoulda gotten an A!!!

so yea thats about the gist of it. If you are going to use my picture and comments, i’d appreciate if you would give me some credit on your site for the write up and picture. my name’s Austin Harris.

Robert Hiltzik on Skype

Sleepaway Camp (1983)

SOURCE: That Was A Bit Mental

My first encounter with Sleepaway Camp was an unassuming purchase at a second-hand DVD shop in a Glasgow market. I was a member of a horror forum at the time and I vaguely remembered it being a part of someone’s list of horror films that were worth checking out. I had slight recollections that there was a reason it was such essential viewing but for the life of me I couldn’t remember why.

This (wo)man is guilty of the worst acting ever committed to celluloid

I took it home and there it sat for a few weeks, until eventually I watched it with my brother late one night. We were used to watching cheesy ’80s camp slashers and for the first 80 minutes of its 84-minute duration Sleepaway Camp is a prime example of this, with its hilariously bad acting and inventive, gruesome deaths. And then the ending came, with an image that will forever be burnt into the minds of my brother and I for the rest of our lives.

Angela and her cousin Ricky… but who’s the killer?

The general plot seems fairly run-of-the-mill. After a man and one of his children die in a horrible boat accident, the man’s sister takes in the other, orphaned child and raises it as one of her own. Fast-forward to ten years later and the child, Angela, heads off to summer camp with her cousin Ricky. As you’d expect, shit starts to go down at the camp and people start dropping off in gruesome ways, but who’s behind the killings?

The new series of Bullseye had started horribly wrong

Sleepaway Camp feels like a real labour of love. Despite the sub-standard acting which ranges from wooden (most of the counsellors are as one-dimensional as an x-axis) to ridiculously over-the-top (the actress – at least, I think it’s a woman – playing Angela’s aunt really has to be seen to be believed), it’s clear that everyone’s having a ball making this film and this comes across in the relationships with the children. Sure, they can’t act, but you find yourself not really caring.

Without even taking the ending into account (I’ll get to that later… no spoilers though, of course), Sleepaway Camp is littered with scenes that are surprisingly dark and grisly for a standard slasher film, especially considering most of the victims aren’t the older teen camp counsellors we’re used to in this sort of film, but actually the children attending the camp.

You’ll squirm as one of the girls gets hair curlers thrust into an unmentionable area, wince as a young lad is stung to death by bees, cheer as the paedophile chef (yes, really) gets what’s coming to him and gasp as you see a brief glimpse of a group of mutilated eight-year-olds. Yes, it might be cheesy and low-budget, but Sleepaway Camp isn’t fucking around.

Genuine dialogue: “She’s a real carpenter’s dream… flat as a board and needs a screw”

And then there’s the ending (which I refuse to even hint at). It’s a true shock becomes it comes completely out of nowhere, yet still makes sense in the context of the story. The film lulls you into a false sense of superiority as you’re more or less certain to guess the killer within the film’s first 25 minutes. It’s so obvious it’s almost laughable, and you sit patiently waiting for the ‘shock’ reveal when they’re exposed as the perpetrator. But then it throws a curveball at the last minute by revealing that the killer’s identity was never supposed to be the big twist, it was always meant to be something entirely different and far more shocking.

I urge you to track down Sleepaway Camp. It’s 80 minutes of fun, cheesy camp slasher gold, topped off with what’s genuinely one of the most memorable endings in cinematic history. You will not get that final image out of your head, I guarantee it.

Sleepaway Camp (1983): Death by Inertia

SOURCE: Sleepaway Camp (1983): Death by Inertia
SOURCE: Sleepaway Camp (1983): Death by Inertia
SOURCE: Sleepaway Camp (1983): Death by Inertia
SOURCE: Sleepaway Camp (1983): Death by Inertia
SOURCE: Sleepaway Camp (1983): Death by Inertia

How, in my vast exploration of 80′s horror, did I miss Sleepaway Camp (1983) until now? It is so terrible in the best way. Director/writer/producer Robert Hiltzik (wonder how many hits I’ll get off that name) made a career out of killing people sleeping away at camp, and then vanished into obscurity. Rightfully so. But seriously, 5 sequels?!

Synopsis: Shy misfit Angela is bullied at camp, while her tormentors mysteriously die around her. Whaaaaa?

The finest deuce Hiltzik drops in this movie (and there are many) is the manner in which the victims die. Only the truly lazy and stupid would fail to survive this maniac. It is a thing of ridiculous beauty. While I try to keep this site spoiler free (I hate spoilers; I love to be surprised), I cannot convey the inanity of this without discussing the deaths in more detail. Ye hath been warned.

Death 1: Ok, it’s not really a death; merely a severe scalding. (Sidebar: how weird is it that the pedophile is the only one who survives an attack? Not the traditional moral code of a horror movie. Or, to Hiltzik, child molestation comes second to super-bitch bullying) But here’s the scenario: our pedophile/cook is standing on a chair, stirring a giant pot of boiling water. We see a hand reach out and begin to shake the wobbly chair. Our cook grabs ahold of the shelf above the stove, yelling at his tormentor to stop. Eventually, the shelf gives way and the cook pulls the pot of water down on him as he falls. How it could have been avoided: Step down off the fucking chair! Seriously! It’s 2 feet off the floor, and he has a good 45 seconds to react. Even if he were to fall, isn’t that better than pulling a ginormous pot of scalding liquid onto his head? Cause guess what? He fell anyway, and that didn’t seem to be the painful part. Alternatively, when he does fall, he could have just refrained from grabbing on to the one thing that took the situation from a band-aid to an ambulance. Stupidity x 2.

Death 2: Random jock a-hole #4; drowning. Scenario: After romantically dumping his date in the water, RJA is under the canoe. He apparently thinks his date has come back (despite watching her swim far away from his loser ass a mere second before), and is surprised to find the killer under the canoe with him! The killer holds his head under the water. How it could have been avoided: Swim away! For fuck’s sake, you’re in the middle of a lake! Swim down, out from under the canoe, and call for help. He was clearly comfortable in the water, so we can’t assume his loser ass can’t swim, and (extra spoiler) he’s dealing with a KID here. He had to have just complacently stayed under the water until his air ran out; he didn’t even struggle. Lazy.

Death 3: Head jock a-hole, AKA Billy; eaten by bees. No, that is not a typo. He was eaten by bees. Scenario: While going to the bathroom, the killer ingeniously bars Billy’s exit from the stall with a wooden plank and then sneaks a hive of pissed off bees through the torn screen of the window bathroom using a stick (it’s possible the killer studied under Dennis the Menace). Billy frantically fights to get out of the stall, and is finally successful… but it is too late. The bees have already eaten his face. How it could have been avoided: Go under the fucking stall! It’s a public bathroom; heck go OVER the stall! When trying to escape a bathroom stall, I’d wager the least effective method is through the locked and barred door. The Darwin Awards salute Billy.

Death 4: Head bitch, and in the running for the worst camp counsellor ever, Meg; sliced down the back. Scenario: The hussy’s taking a shower to prepare for her age-inappropriate date later, when a knife emerges through the back of the shower and plunges into her back. The killer then drags the knife down, reverse-gutting her. How it could have been avoided: Step forward! I can’t fault Meg too much for the initial stab wound; who expects a knife to suddenly protrude through the wall, through the shower, and into their back? But I would think the first reaction when stabbed in the back is to leap forward, away from the weapon. Especially when the killer starts to cut further – wouldn’t one’s response be to remove themselves from the weapon doing increasingly irreparable damage? She just stands there, no killer in sight, nothing keeping her in place (apart from her own ineptitude), and lets him continue to cut her.

Death 5: Rival and uber-bitch Judy; ?? There’s a pillow and a curling iron involved… but I’m not sure which kills her. Scenario: Judy’s curling her hair before bed (who doesn’t?), when a mysterious figure enters the room. Judy antagonizes the figure until she realizes who it is, and then decides further antagonism is the best course of action. The killer punches her in the head, covers her face with a pillow, and then burns her with a curling iron… although we don’t see where. How it could have been avoided: This one sounds like an almost plausible killing (minus the fact that I have no idea what actually kills her). It’s in the execution that the absurdity becomes clear. Because after she is punched, even though she is not unconscious, Judy puts up no fight. She, much like RJA, lays underneath the pillow (which looks like it is lovingly placed over her face, rather than being held in place to smother her) and waits for sweet, sweet death. When burned, her arms reach cinematically into the air in pain, but make no effort to remove the pillow or stop the curling iron. Or fight her attacker. Looks good Hiltzik, but narratively, it’s just lame. (p.s. It doesn’t look good either.)

To speak of death 6 would be to risk spoiling the end of this fine film. And the sad part is, the ending is considered one of the most shocking in horror film history (according to IMDB, so… grain of salt). I imagine that had I not known the twist, I would never have guessed it, and it is a startling image. The problem with the ending is twofold: while shocking, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and unfortunately, time has not aged the effects well at all. At all. A 3-year-old with photoshop could do a better job now.

But still, it is a fine movie to watch and mock endlessly. Marvel at a time when men thought tiny, tight jean shorts and half tees were the epitome of sexiness! Witness the deaths of the most passive victims in horror history! Wish you could get 84 minutes of your life back, because then you could watch the magic all over again!

I’ve gotta go get started on the sequels.

The Tree of Life, Sleepaway Camp and a Note on Spoilers

It’s always a pleasure to read a new take on Sleepaway Camp. I especially like this piece in which the writer describes “the scare” of Sleepaway Camp, where it comes from. I would have to agree. Sometimes someone else can put into words what you have been trying to say for years but just never could.

The tone, the mood, the ‘scare’ of the film is in Angela’s facial expression: the fact she is biologically male is not scary, merely shocking. The fact that a human animal can lose control of moral reasoning, can lose control of language to the extent of pre-lingual grunting, can even lose control of their own facial muscles, is beyond shocking – not to overstate the case but this writer can find very few comparisons to the power of that image 5 . It can be argued then that the image ruins the movie but not the plot.

SOURCE: The Tree of Life, Sleepaway Camp and a Note on Spoilers
SOURCE: The Tree of Life, Sleepaway Camp and a Note on Spoilers
SOURCE: The Tree of Life, Sleepaway Camp and a Note on Spoilers
SOURCE: The Tree of Life, Sleepaway Camp and a Note on Spoilers
SOURCE: The Tree of Life, Sleepaway Camp and a Note on Spoilers

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