Directed by Robert Hiltzik [Other horror films: Return to Sleepaway Camp (2008)]
Of the classic slashers of the early 80’s, Sleepaway Camp has never been a favorite of mine. In my view, both Friday the 13th and The Burning are more enjoyable, and while this certainly stands out in some ways (including, of course, the finale), I still can’t bring myself to overly adore it.
Not that Sleepaway Camp is a bad movie. It’s, for lack of a better word, interesting, and some parts are really hard to take seriously, such as Desiree Gould’s Aunt Martha or Owen Hughes’ possibly pedophilic Artie (who had a solid almost-death scene, on a side-note). The tongue-in-cheek style isn’t too overbearing, but it certainly is noticeable at times (Mike Kellin as Mel is another somewhat over-the-top character), which gives the film a unique feeling, but doesn’t endear me too much to it.
As far as deaths go, though, the movie’s golden. The hair curler scene was solid, but even better (at least for me, being allergic) was the beehive in the bathroom, which was perhaps one of my favorite scenes in the movie. As aforementioned, Hughes’ character gets his head pushed into boiling water (think My Bloody Valentine, although arguably more violent), and that too stood out.
Acting’s a bit of a mixed bag (in part due to the fact that many of the extras were actually played by younger kids as opposed to established actors and actresses), but for a slasher, it’s not particularly noticeable. Felissa Rose was solid as Angela, and had that quiet, somewhat awkward teen style down. Jonathan Tiersten wasn’t great, but his exuberance was welcomed. Both Karen Fields and Katherine Kamhi (who popped up a year later in the forgotten slasher Silent Madness) did great as the bitchy girls you just want to see die, and Christopher Collet does okay as one of Angela’s anchors to happiness.
Overall, though, while the film is enjoyable enough, like I said, both Friday the 13th and The Burning come to mind first when thinking of solid camp-based slashers. Sleepaway Camp is certainly still worth a watch (if for anything, for the unexpected but solidly built-up conclusion), but I don’t know if it’s a movie that would otherwise blow you away. At least, it never did me.
This is one of the films discussed on Fight Evil’s podcast, so if you want to hear myself and Chucky (@ChuckyFE) talk about Sleepaway Camp, listen below.