Camps and horror films: what could possibly go wrong? Mike Kellin, Katherine Kamhi, Felissa Rose and Jonathan Tiersten star in Sleepaway Camp.
Director – Robert Hiltzik
Screenplay – Robert Hiltzik
Producer – Jerry Silva & Michele Tatosian
In the summer of 1975, kids Angela and her brother Peter are spending some time with their father out on a lake. Nearby, some teens operating a motorboat have an accident running over and killing Peter and his father.
Eight years later, Angela (Felissa Rose) has been sent to live with her eccentric Aunt Martha Thomas (Desiree Gould) and cousin Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten). Both Angela and Ricky are being sent to Camp Arawak. Due to Angela’s extremely introverted nature, though, she’s immediately bullied by some campers and her counselor Meg (Katherine Kamhi).
I’ll make a bold prediction and say it doesn’t end well.
If only everyone at Camp Arawak had seen Friday the 13th. Many lives could’ve been saved.
I remember years ago, I went to camp once for a week. I drank a gallon of water at lunch time, which was followed by Horizontal Hour (basically an hour of napping, reading, or whatever in your bed). That rather tortuous hour led to me breaking the sound barrier as I ran to the bathroom afterward, where I set my own personal record for pissing close to a minute.
Sleepaway Camp is one of those films with that deceptive Rotten Tomatoes rating of 75%, where you go, “Hmm. Must be good.”, and then you realize that it’s 32 reviews from WXRY in Drummond, Idaho (population – 16) and bloggers like me. Some will look at this film as just a Friday the 13th ripoff. However, as I paid close attention, I was able to pick up some pointers that I myself never learned from my own experiences at camp…
1) The film opens with the obligatory horror film accident. This one involves the aforementioned father, kids and idiot teens. Daddy and the kids fall into the lake, with the motorboat heading right for them. The teen girl driving the boat must not know what the words “TURN THE BOAT!!!!” being screamed out of her boyfriend’s mouth mean ’cause it looks like there’s still a half-mile of distance from her and the family, yet she keeps going straight. Guess what follows…
- The girl wises up and turns either left or right, thankfully avoiding the family and sparing them from being killed.
- Obviously, since you can’t expect a woman to do anything right, the boyfriend takes control of the boat, increases the speed for some reason and runs right over the family.
2) Judging from her performance, I think Ricky’s mother mistook this for a David Lynch film.
3) This Angela girl’s quiet. Eerily quiet. Comatose quiet. So quiet, there’s no possible way she could end up being revealed to be the killer.
4) Holy hell, the fashion sense in the ’80s was just dreadful. Why put on tighty-whities when the skimpy shorts you’re wearing appear to be tighter?
5) Go figure. The cook’s a pedophile. I never did thank my mom for letting me take sack lunches to school.
6) The cook is so open about his desire for kids, he’d be the first guy on To Catch a Predator to skip the whole “Uh – uh – we just gonna have – uh – ice cream.” bit and just flat out state, “Oh, yeah, Chris… I was just about to diddle her.”
7) The cook, being the sleaziest of them all, is the first to get whacked. How does he die? Well, by standing on a two-foot tall chair to check on the boiling water. The killer (through their POV) bumps the chair to where the cook is holding on to a shelf above the pot for dear life. You can see where this is going.
8) Apparently, two-feet above the ground in Sleepaway Camp’s world is equal to dangling off the top of the Sears Tower.
9) Murder doesn’t seem to be drastic enough of a cause to shut down camp and send the kids home. The parents must want their money’s worth.
10) You can immediately tell who’s on the list to get killed by the severity of their bullying. There’s the obligatory prima donna bitch who thinks she’s God’s gift to men ’cause she’s almost at a B-cup (I can just hear Christian Bale say, “OH, GOOD FOR YOU!!!”), and there’s Angela’s counselor who’s almost unhealthily obsessed with the fact that Angela doesn’t speak or socialize.
11) Of course, the best way to get anyone to socialize is to bully them some more.
12) At my camp, while we were all playing Kick the Can, I hit a girl in the stomach as she tagged me out. I just wanna go on record by saying to Jaime Bishop, if you turned out psychotic and created a “People to Kill” list, I am extremely sorry.
13) I just got done standing up on my computer chair and then hopping back to the floor. Painless. Between that or receiving life-threatening third-degree burns from a giant pot of boiling water, the choice should be obvious.
14) There’s a mild homoerotic undertone throughout this film, and by mild undertone, I mean it’s about on par with George Michael getting thumped up the backdoor by a dressed in leather chaps Tinky Winky to the tune of “It’s Raining Men”.
15) There’s probably at least one idiot out there attempting what I did, only to land funny on one of their feet and sprain it. I will not be held responsible.
16) The head counselor notices Angela getting hit with water balloons and chides the girl bullies on how dangerous water balloons are.
17) He then tells Angela that she better change into a dryer pair of clothes, or she’ll catch pneumonia…
18) … In the middle of a hot summer day.
19) The next kill involves another camper getting locked inside the bathroom stall and bombarded with an angry bee hive. Guess what follows…
- The boy, using enough smarts that anyone with half a functioning brain could figure out, crawls out under the rather large gap in between the floor and stall door.
- The boy, using enough smarts that anyone with half a functioning brain could figure out, climbs over the rather large gap in between the ceiling and stall door.
- Nope, just sits there and gets stung by the bees like a dumb ass.
20) In only a few minutes, the boy looks like he had acid poured all over him. Those are some potent bees.
21) These people are so dumb, they deserve every death they get.
22) And now here’s a random shot of two middle-aged men caressing each other in bed (refer back to point #12).
23) One of the cops shows up with a mustache that would’ve looked more believable if it was etched on in permanent marker.
24) I’m not gonna tell the big reveal at the end. Me telling you does it absolutely no justice. Just watch the movie and find out for yourself.
This is a perfect example of a slasher film running low on Dopamine. There’s no thrills or sense of suspense whatsoever; however, if the first 86 minutes of abysmal acting and cheesy writing doesn’t get you to scratch your head and laugh simultaneously, the final shot certainly will. The frights may be lacking, but there are unintentional laughs galore, and if there were any candidates worthy of making the teens at Camp Crystal Lake look like NASA engineers, the ragtag bunch at Camp Arawak would be it.