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Monday, July 1, 2019

Sleepaway Camp (1983)




The Slasher marathon continues with another favorite, Sleepaway Camp. This one has an infamous ending and has been a flick that I watch at least once every year since I first rented the VHS tape ages ago. Time for some fun at Camp Arawak.

The action kicks off with a father and his kids on a sail boat. There is some horsing around and they end up in the water, just in time for a motor boat to come along and run them over. The Dad and his son die, only the daughter Angela survives. Eight years later Angela, who was adopted by her aunt, and her cousin Ricky head off to summer camp. Camp Arawak is filled with mean girls, bullies, and one particularly creepy cook who likes to check out the new batch of “baldies”. Soon enough the bodies start to pile up as an unseen killer starts to pick off the campers one at a time. But who is responsible and why are they murdering the campers?

Sleepaway Camp has one of the best endings in the history of Slasher flicks. The identity of the killer is so twisted and out of left field that I never saw it coming. I love showing this movie to friends who haven’t seen it before just so I can see their reaction to the big reveal. Most horror fans have seen this so many times that I don’t think they appreciate how well the movie hides what is coming. This movie also has a bit of sleaze to it. From the camp cook who is clearly a pedophile on the hunt for some “company” to the owner of the camp who is ready to beat the hell out of Ricky these aren’t nice people. Really who sends their kids to Camp Arawak?

Uh Oh...
The kills are mostly implied and happen offscreen but are staged in a manner that is very effective. There is death by motorboat, another person is drowned, some bees take care of another creep, and a bunch of kids meet their bloody end in their sleeping bags. But the best example of filling in the gaps with your imagination involves a curling iron and a very sensitive location! The sizzling sound effect man… it gets me every time. The gore that we do get is all after the fact when the victims are found. There are some bloody sleeping bags, a head, and a spine that has been split. The best onscreen effect is on someone that doesn’t even die, though as one of the characters comments he probably wished he was dead. The creepy ass chef ends up face first into a pot of boiling water and we get to see the results of his dip play out in front of our eyes. This is a highlight of the movie.

I could keep going on about Sleepaway Camp, but it should be obvious by now that I’m going to recommend it. While doing my research for this review I discovered that this movie was considered to be obscure until the sequels came out in the late eighties. I suppose I must have been lucky that my local Mom and Pop video store had the tape. If you haven’t seen Sleepaway Camp do so now. But don’t Google it! Spoilers are all over the internet and it will ruin the fun of your first time.


© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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