Sleepaway Camp (1983) Poster

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Warning Spoilers: Misidentified
spknezek31 December 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Many people have made the connection to the Friday the 13th series with Sleepaway Camp for obvious reasons. They both came out within a few years of each other and all the action takes place at a summer camp. However, the primary theme in the Friday the 13th series is vengeance. Vengeance of a mother for the neglect and drowning of her son and then vengeance by the son for the murder of his mother. Of course vengeance is also key to all the murders in Sleepaway Camp but for entirely different motivations. The murders of Sleepaway Camp come from sexual repression, being picked on, and sexual molestation. All these derive from feelings of shame and embarassment which is different than the motivations of Friday the 13th. A better comparison for Sleepaway Camp would be Psycho. First let me say that in no one are the two comparable, Psycho is a masterpiece of story, directing, acting, and camera work, Sleepaway Camp is none of these. But they share similar thematic characteristics. Norman Bates suffers an Oedipal complex but when his mother takes a new lover he kills her and suffers tremendously. He is overwhelmed by guilt and shame and brings her back to life in his mind. But whenever he sees an attractive woman he feels guilty and shameful and murders them because his mother is jealous for his affection. Sleepaway Camp is a more bizarre twist on these themes. Angela's (who turns out to be a boy) father and sister are both killed in a boating accident. But unlike Jason, Angela does not wreck havoc on the camp for those deaths. Instead Angela is adopted by her demented Aunt and forced to become a girl because the Aunt already has a son, Ricky. There are two scenes in which I'm guessing a young Ricky and Angela witness two men, presumably Ricky's father and his lover having sex. These scene is followed by a scene in which suggests a sort of sexual molestation between young Ricky and young Angela. These two pivotal events greatly affect Angela and cause a sexual crisis within him/her. What begins the rampage at Camp Arawak is another sexual molestation performed by the cook on Angela. This act sets her/him off the deep end and she/he begins to kill anyone who hurts her/him in any way. Then to complicate matters she begins to have a relationship with Paul. Angela has a gender identity crisis and cannot decide whether she/he is attracted to Paul or to other women. It probably doesn't help her that she is surrounded by Men in booty shorts and half shorts, who would be mistaken for flamboyantly gay in today's culture. So she decides to have a relationship with Paul and seems happy but he wants more, to feel her breasts, which of course she doesn't have. Angela finally loses all control when she catches Paul cheating on her with Judy. She brutally murders Judy by raping her with a curling iron. Then she goes berserk and kills four younger children in their sleeping bags. I think they kicked sand at her. Then she decides to reveal her secret to Paul. And she does and promptly decapitates him. Finally in the creepiest scene that I never saw coming she makes a crazy face with a gaping open mouth, ax in hand, completely naked and breathes heavily making slight animalistic noises. This facial expression is comparable to one that Norman Bates makes dressed as the mother at the end of Psycho. The sister of Marion is in the basement, finds the skeleton of the mother and then turns to see Norman dressed as the mother making a very similar crazy expression. So in conclusion Psycho is a much more accurate comparison because both involve characters who are sexual confused, are men who dress as women, and kill when their sexual identites come into crisis. I do not think Sleepaway Camp is a great movie, but had it better acting and special effects it could be. It is a thoroughly rich text. The reason many people have responded to the ending, which I found shocking and disturbing and will unfortunately never leave me, is because it plays on deeply disturbing psychological events in people's lives. And for that matter I think it is much scarier than a Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street which are basically about vengeance for the murder of a person.
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There are two scenes in this film that I will never forget
Dan Grant13 July 1999
Horror films seemed the easy way to make a quick buck in the 80's. There was an abundance of them that graced video. I don't think half of them actually made it to the big screen. You can add Sleepaway Camp to that list. This is a typical scary film. It has it's moments and it is scary in some parts. It has some nice humour especially when they play camp jokes on each other. But having said all that, this movie is as good as it is and it's not too bad ) because the mother in this film is creepier than Mrs. Bates and she actually makes you want to kill her. But the two parts that I will never forget are images that are firmly planted in my brain, especially the part of it that stores nasty horror elements in it.

The first was the death by curling iron. It is so horrific that it bothered me so much that I had to cover my eyes the second time I saw it. It is qutie graphic, not because of what they show, but because you know how nasty it is.

But the one thing that will stay with me and probably anyone else that has seen this film is the very end. That last shot is so horrific, so way out of left field that you never see it coming. It just hits you and then it ends. It has a power of its own. And judging by the comment on here from other users, they feel the same way. This is a film absolutely worth checking out.
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A great bad slasher movie(not for everyone)
HorrorSlasher26 May 2006
This 1983 horror slasher gem was written and directed by first time director Robert Hiltzik. The story begins with a boating accident which kills the main character Angela's father and brother. We then move forward in time, now Angela is living with her Aunt Martha and her cousin Ricky. Angela and Ricky then go to camp and it is Angela's first time going but Rickey has been there before. Angela doesn't get along with the other campers and is very quiet. A series of murders begin and it is a mystery who is killing all these people. Could it be Ricky who made death threats, could it be Mozart killing these campers because he was picked on, could it be Angela, or could it be someone else? This movie has very interesting and unique deaths without gore. This movie is not for everyone, if you are a fan of cheesy horror movies or just slashers definitely check out this movie. You will never forget the ending.
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A ghastly ghoulish go go delight!
nailhead10 April 2000
It had been years since I saw this movie, but I remembered the key elements. Young girl is harassed at camp, her bullies start dying off, unforgettable ending. I just never realized how big of a classic this really is. For those of you who don't know, the film starts off with a man on a boat in the middle of a lake with his two children. The boat tips over, another boat comes racing towards them and kills all but one.

Flash forward 8 years later, the sole survivor now lives at her aunts house, where she sends the girl, Angela, and her cousin, Ricky, to summer camp. At camp, Angela is brutally teased and taunted by her fellow campers. Her cousin Ricky continuously comes to her defense, but the bullies are all being killed off by a mysterious unknown attacker. All of this leads up to an ending that I believe to be one of the most shocking in cinema history.

Felissa Rose gave an excellent performance as Angela, who makes you sympathize heavily for her, due to her soft mannered and soft spoken personality. She is very much the kid we all were, and some of you might still be. A vulnerable target for those with a superiority complex, very much the outcast.

Writer/Director Robert Hiltzik fills the film to the brim with psychological undertones, masterfully creating a genuine thriller out of this low grade, slasher extraordinare. But you don't care about that, do ya'. You want gore! And while it's not an overtly gory film, there are enough offerings of blood here and there to keep you gorehounds satisfied. Not to mention some nifty death scenes. And the ending, my friends, is what makes Sleepaway Camp worth the watch. That's not to say SC isn't a good film, in my opinion it's great, but for those of you who have no clue as to how it ends... You will not be disappointed. They just don't make horror films like this anymore, folks.
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Great American Slasher with an ending you'll never forget
freq3214 June 2003
This is 80's American Cheese at it's greatest! The cast does a great job and the script is actually really good. If you're a fan of cheesy slasher flicks this is one you should certainly check out...and absolutely DO NOT MISS THE ENDING!!!! One of the creepiest endings I've ever seen in a movie which is sure to give anyone the chills. A truly wicked low budget horror flick.
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Great slasher film.
HumanoidOfFlesh23 September 2003
Robert Hiltzik's "Sleepaway Camp" is one of the most memorable slasher movies ever made.Of course the acting and dialogue are terrible,but writer/director Robert Hiltzik manages to create very creepy atmosphere throughout,the killings are original and gruesome and the ending is very shocking and twisted.Felissa Rose is marvelous as Angela,especially with her creepy stare."Sleepaway Camp" is a little bit different than your standard slasher fare-it's filled with strange and deviant characters,disturbing flashbacks and sexual subtexts.There is only a little bit of gore,still we do get an arrow through the neck,severed head,a bloody stabbing and death by hair curler.Overall,"Sleepaway Camp" is a fast-paced slasher flick with a wonderful central character of Angela.Highly recommended.
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The 2nd best ending in cinematic history
Route66613 January 1999
When I first picked up the box cover of Sleepaway Camp, I said to myself, "Just another stupid slasher film with a camp setting." Yes, it was another stupid slasher film with a camp setting. It was the best damn slasher film with a camp setting of all time. It provided a simple story with sexy teenagers from the early 80s innocently attending a Christian sleepaway camp. It was really good. The acting and writing alone could not make the movie good though, it was the ending. It had the best movie ending in cinematic history (until I saw Multiple Maniacs). I will not reveal the specifics, but I will urge you to rent the movie and see for yourself, because it is one of the most surprising and shocking endings ever conceived. You will not be disappointed.
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Worth it, though only because of the ending.
Spent Bullets15 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Sleepaway Camp is an unusual film in that it contains a great deal of homo erotic overtones. It may very well be the only trash horror film from the '80s where the boys show more flesh than the girls. From the numerous shots of shirtless men in shorts that would make Brazilians embarrassed, to the overt cheapening of the girls, director Robert Hiltzik is throwing the entire slasher genre into an uproar by mixing his messages on the kind of gender proclivity that gets you killed in such a scenario.

One could easily say it's a cheap Friday the 13th knock-off, but with good 'camp' value. So, therefore, the story is rather familiar. When Ricky and his slightly off-kilter cousin Angela visit Camp Arawak for the summer, they're hoping to spend some quality time away from home. But wouldn't you know it, the place has a problem all its own - a serial killer is on the loose, one who is slicing and dicing his way through the campers.

It sure is, however, worth it, though only because of the ending. Angela is really Peter and that Aunt Martha inexplicably decided to raise him as a girl after the accident that killed his sister and hunky dad, a series of flashbacks sheds light on the identity crisis of the film's killer: two men (yes, the hunky guys in the film's opening scene) caress each other in bed, and after witnessing this '50s-PSA spectacle of queer petting, two siblings reach for each using an E.T.-phone-home-pull-my-finger gesture that seems to imply that they're going to "desire" each other (in the butt perhaps?).

With that being said, sure, the film mimics Friday the 13th's (not entirely the most original film either) summer camp setting, but because it's so hilarious, and the final money shot is so damn creepy, Sleepaway Camp has a string of mysterious bloodshed.
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Unexplained4203 May 2007
After you watch Sleepaway Camp, you will either love it or hate it. I loved this movie after I watched it... The weird thing about this movie though it has everything I hate in Horror movies. Sometimes the acting was cheese. Especially that horny kid that keeps trying to hookup with Angela. He dropped some one-liners that made me laugh cause it was so lame. It reminded me of the 50's for some reason.... But somehow it suited the movie, which didn't make me hate it. The story is pretty predictable. You have an idea what is really happening in the movie but the ending throws it all out the window cause you never expected that to happen... I think it was the ending that made it all worth watching and made me appreciate it. The ending made me zone out and gave me the chills. The reality of the story is twisted which is why I watched again after I first saw it. Overall, I highly recommend this cult-classic. It's truly one of a kind.
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A rare FRIDAY THE 13TH rip-off that's actually pretty good.
capkronos6 May 2003
Warning: Spoilers
We all know this plot: People at a summer camp who are mean to a very shy girl named Angela (Felissa Rose) begin to die in gruesome ways. The difference here is the nasty edge to things and solid Ed French make-up FX. Obnoxious, overacting characters screaming at each another in their grating New York accents are always good for some laughs, too. Kids make fun of Angela ("You're a real carpenter's dream! Flat on both ends and in need of a screw!"), nail her with water balloons and push her down. Not since CARRIE has a lead character had it so bad. Flashbacks prove how having same-sex parents can lead to homicidal behavior! There's death by drowning, scalding water, decapitation, bees, snake and curling iron (guess where?), a child molester cook, a PSYCHO shower scene, skinny dipping and one of the best endings of the 80s. Followed by 2 1/2 comedy sequels.

Score: 6 out of 10
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