Sleepaway Camp – 9

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Director – Robert Hiltzik

Cast – Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten, Karen Fields, Christopher Collet, Mike Kellin, Katherine Kamhi, Paul DeAngelo, Tom Van Dell, Loris Sallahian, John E. Dunn, Willy Kuskin, Desiree Gould

Release Year – 1983

Reviewed by John of the Dead

I fell in love with this film the first time I saw it back during my high school days.  A night of pizza, wings, and drinks set the perfect mood for this film, although this time of viewing it I was only drinking apple juice and this flick was still as enjoyable to me now as it was back then.  This is one of horror’s most iconic slasher films because it is so simple in nature, yet horrific as well.  Vengeance, awesome deaths, and utter shock adorn this film, and make this a must watch for all horror fans.

8 years after a horrific accident, young and shy Angela is sent with her cousin to a New York summer camp.  She is immediately picked on due to her shy and anti-social behavior, and soon enough the body count begins to rise as those who wrong her turn up dead.  The camp struggles to keep the deaths under wraps while searching for the killer, a killer they would never suspect.

Boy is this flick a joy to watch.  If you are fans of vengeance as I am then you are going to absolutely love the vengeance in this flick.  We see poor Angela get pestered greatly by her fellow campers in ways that to this day still make me quite angry when I see them.  Heh.  You can think great direction for that, especially because the character performances really are mediocre at best yet they still get the job done thanks to the build up of the scene.  The vengeance Angela gets on her bullies is awesome and expertly executed as well.  We get some neat kills that bleed cheezy creativity.  Cheezy creativity?  Yup, that is right…creative…and cheezy.  Personally, I love it.

The storyline is quite simple and it helps make this a fun watch given you can turn off your brain for a while and still be given a sweet film experience.  You know from the get-go that Angela is the killer, so there is no mystery with that and no need to pay attention to unnecessary things.  There is, however, a giant twist in the film, and I will get to that later.  We do not get any useless characters, which I found quite surprising given this is a cheezy low-budget 80s slasher film, and a lot of these flicks have useless characters.  Well, this film is an exception that uses each of its characters to their full potential.  Basically, each character’s purpose is to give Angela a hard time, and then die a gruesome vengeful death because of it.  Oh man that makes me so happy.

It was not until 2008’s Return to Sleepaway Camp that writer/director Robert Hiltzik had returned to the horror scene, and I cannot fathom why.  The guy took what should have been a sleazy 80s horror film and turned it into an iconic watch that manages to take itself quite seriously despite its cheeziness.  Plus, he gave us one of the genre’s greatest twist endings of all time.  Yes, that is right, the big “twist” I mentioned earlier is this film’s climax, which I was utterly horrified over the first time I viewed this film.  Even to this day, years later, I still get chills watching this film’s awe-inducing climax.

Overall, this is an amazing slasher film that gets everything right.  I highly recommend this to all fans of the genre, especially fans of the slasher sub-genre.  We get a sweet storyline, great vengeance, awesome kills, and a climax that you will never forget.

Rating: 9/10

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