Sleepaway Camp
The 80s were the Golden Age of horror films and slashers alike. The B-rated, scan line riddled films were always a treat to sit and watch. Marathons would take hours of horror fanatics' time as they dove into one brutal and bloody massacre to the next. While most were focused on emerging franchises such as Friday the 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street, there were a ton of sleeper horror hits that were drowned out in the massive flood of horrors that were already running askew in the market. And, while the movie did gain a bit of a cult following and its initial limited theatrical run was successful, it soon got lost in the minds of many. 

However, Sleepaway Camp is still one of the best slasher films I have ever watched and is on par with the greats such as the previously mentioned Friday the 13th, A Nightmare On Elm Street, as well as the Godfather of the genre Halloween. The film takes place eight years after a father and his son, Peter, are killed by an unaware motorboat driver. The only survivor of the accident was the daughter, Angela, who presently lives with her Aunt Dr. Martha Thomas. Traumatized from the incident, and one that hardly ever speaks a word, she is sent off to Camp Arawak with her cousin Ricky. Upon arriving, she is humiliated and tortured by various folks, including her camp counselor Meg and her best friend, Judy. However, after each incident of torture, the sadist then becomes the victim, either being killed or brutally maimed in one form or the other. 

Take the setting of Friday the 13th, mash it with the POV style killings of Halloween, and insert influences of Psycho, and you essentially have what Sleepaway Camp makes itself out to be. Minimal gore, quick, smart kills, and major hints and nudges as to who the serial killer really is is all part of the formula at play. What's most interesting about it all, however, is how well the movie makes use of allowing the viewer to know who is really the killer. 

Yes, unless you're dense, you should be able to figure easily out that the murdered is one of the main characters. It kind of kept me asking as to why they kept their identity hidden throughout the film, and the reason for that lies within its Psycho-esque twist reveal at the end. Familial bounds are tested, and an extremely creepy scene plays out. The ending shot itself is perhaps one of the more memorable moments of the films as the serial killer stands there, mouth agape, bloody, and staring straight into the eyes of a team of camp goers searching for the murderer. The ending is a right proper one, and more movies should take note of its effectiveness. 

Now, the acting can be a bit forgivable at times; remember, this is an 80s B-movie production so not one person puts on an oscar worthy performance in the film. However, the three characters that put on the best show are Felissa Rose as the quiet and wide eyed Angela Baker; Jonathan Tiersten as the loud and foul mouthed cousin of Angela, Ricky; and Christopher Collet as Angela's love interest, Paul. These three formed a tight knit group throughout the films duration, and their closeness resonates in their actions. Ricky behaved exactly as a young boy defending his female cousin ought to: with naughty words and lots of yelling, but hardly any action while Paul was the more calm, cool, and collected individual who was nice to Angela, and got to know her more than anyone. Angela herself, while quiet, had a stare that could make a marine shiver, which was fucking awesome. The  rest of the cast did well on their own (even if Karen Fields as Judy looked a little too old to be at a summer camp), but these three were outstanding. 

If there really is any one part of the film I would complain about, it would be the whole baseball scene. It didn't really have much pertinence in the grand scheme of the plot. The scene pits Ricky and Paul's baseball team against a group of the older kids, which would otherwise make you think that the tension between the two groups would rise. However, as the film continues, the fight between the two groups barely escalates to anything more than water balloons being tossed back and forth and a half-assed fight. It was perhaps the only plot element that really didn't stick well together, and could have been avoided for a more cohesive story. However, despite that minor issue, Sleepaway Camp succeeds as a slasher film in every other way. 

Following in footsteps laid just a few years before its release, Sleepaway Camp is a dangerously smart 80s slasher film that can hold its own up to the classics, possibly even surpassing some of them with its unique twist ending that is as shocking as it is brutal. 
4
Brutal Resonance

Sleepaway Camp

8.0
"Great"
Genre: Horror, Slasher
Director: Robert Hiltzik
Writer: Robert Hiltzik
Star actors: Mike Kellin, Katherine Kamhi, Paul DeAngelo, Jonathan Tiersten, Felissa Rose, Karen Fields, Christopher Collet
The 80s were the Golden Age of horror films and slashers alike. The B-rated, scan line riddled films were always a treat to sit and watch. Marathons would take hours of horror fanatics' time as they dove into one brutal and bloody massacre to the next. While most were focused on emerging franchises such as Friday the 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street, there were a ton of sleeper horror hits that were drowned out in the massive flood of horrors that were already running askew in the market. And, while the movie did gain a bit of a cult following and its initial limited theatrical run was successful, it soon got lost in the minds of many. 

However, Sleepaway Camp is still one of the best slasher films I have ever watched and is on par with the greats such as the previously mentioned Friday the 13th, A Nightmare On Elm Street, as well as the Godfather of the genre Halloween. The film takes place eight years after a father and his son, Peter, are killed by an unaware motorboat driver. The only survivor of the accident was the daughter, Angela, who presently lives with her Aunt Dr. Martha Thomas. Traumatized from the incident, and one that hardly ever speaks a word, she is sent off to Camp Arawak with her cousin Ricky. Upon arriving, she is humiliated and tortured by various folks, including her camp counselor Meg and her best friend, Judy. However, after each incident of torture, the sadist then becomes the victim, either being killed or brutally maimed in one form or the other. 

Take the setting of Friday the 13th, mash it with the POV style killings of Halloween, and insert influences of Psycho, and you essentially have what Sleepaway Camp makes itself out to be. Minimal gore, quick, smart kills, and major hints and nudges as to who the serial killer really is is all part of the formula at play. What's most interesting about it all, however, is how well the movie makes use of allowing the viewer to know who is really the killer. 

Yes, unless you're dense, you should be able to figure easily out that the murdered is one of the main characters. It kind of kept me asking as to why they kept their identity hidden throughout the film, and the reason for that lies within its Psycho-esque twist reveal at the end. Familial bounds are tested, and an extremely creepy scene plays out. The ending shot itself is perhaps one of the more memorable moments of the films as the serial killer stands there, mouth agape, bloody, and staring straight into the eyes of a team of camp goers searching for the murderer. The ending is a right proper one, and more movies should take note of its effectiveness. 

Now, the acting can be a bit forgivable at times; remember, this is an 80s B-movie production so not one person puts on an oscar worthy performance in the film. However, the three characters that put on the best show are Felissa Rose as the quiet and wide eyed Angela Baker; Jonathan Tiersten as the loud and foul mouthed cousin of Angela, Ricky; and Christopher Collet as Angela's love interest, Paul. These three formed a tight knit group throughout the films duration, and their closeness resonates in their actions. Ricky behaved exactly as a young boy defending his female cousin ought to: with naughty words and lots of yelling, but hardly any action while Paul was the more calm, cool, and collected individual who was nice to Angela, and got to know her more than anyone. Angela herself, while quiet, had a stare that could make a marine shiver, which was fucking awesome. The  rest of the cast did well on their own (even if Karen Fields as Judy looked a little too old to be at a summer camp), but these three were outstanding. 

If there really is any one part of the film I would complain about, it would be the whole baseball scene. It didn't really have much pertinence in the grand scheme of the plot. The scene pits Ricky and Paul's baseball team against a group of the older kids, which would otherwise make you think that the tension between the two groups would rise. However, as the film continues, the fight between the two groups barely escalates to anything more than water balloons being tossed back and forth and a half-assed fight. It was perhaps the only plot element that really didn't stick well together, and could have been avoided for a more cohesive story. However, despite that minor issue, Sleepaway Camp succeeds as a slasher film in every other way. 

Following in footsteps laid just a few years before its release, Sleepaway Camp is a dangerously smart 80s slasher film that can hold its own up to the classics, possibly even surpassing some of them with its unique twist ending that is as shocking as it is brutal. 
Nov 07 2015

Steven Gullotta

info@brutalresonance.com
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.

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