Sleepaway Camp (1983) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Angela Baker, a traumatized and very shy young girl, is sent to summer camp with her cousin. Shortly after her arrival, anyone with sinister or less than honorable intentions gets their comeuppance.

  • After a horrible boating accident kills her family, Angela, a shy and sullen young girl, moves in with her eccentric aunt Martha, alongside her protective cousin Ricky. One summer, Martha sends the kids to Camp Arawak. Soon after their arrival, a series of bizarre and increasingly violent accidents begins to claim the lives of various campers. Who is the twisted individual behind these murders? The disclosure of the murderer's identity is one of the most shocking climaxes in the history of American cinema.



The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Over the opening credits, we see a closed-down summer camp in the fall that is called Camp Arawak.

    The film opens in the summer of 1975, with a family consisting of divorcée John Baker (Dan Tursi) and his two children, Angela and Peter, out on a lake near a summer camp in upstate New York. After their small boat accidentally flips, John and the children begin to head ashore, where John's lover Lenny (James Paradise) is calling to him. As the family swims, a pair of teenagers named Marianne and Craig are pulling a water skier named Dolores in a motorboat. Craig and Marianne switch places to that the girl can drive the boat, but they fail to notice the family in the water in time and hits them, which kills both John and Peter. The survivor, Angela, is sent to live with her eccentric aunt, Dr. Martha Thomas (Desiree Gould), and Martha's son Richard "Ricky" Thomas.

    Eight years after John and Peter's deaths, Angela, now age 14 (Felissa Rose), and Ricky, now age 15 (Jonathan Tiersten), are sent to Camp Arawak by Martha, who reminds them not to tell anyone how they got the signatures for their physical exams. The buses arrive at the camp, and Artie (Owen Hughes), the creepy head cook, admires the children with no reservations in front of his coworkers calling them "baldies". Ricky introduces Angela to his best friend Paul (Christopher Collet), and he shows Angela around the camp since he was there last summer. Angela goes not respond when Paul talks to her and backs away after he finishes the tour. Ricky tries to talk to Judy (Karen Fields), his former girlfriend from last summer at the camp, but she hardly acknowledges him.

    Because of her introverted nature and her shyness, Angela is ridiculed and bullied--her main tormentors being Judy and camp counselor Meg (Katherine Kamhi). During lunchtime, Angela, having not eaten for some time, is taken into the kitchen by the sympathetic head counselor Ronnie (Paul DeAngelo) to see if there is anything in there she would like to eat. Left alone with the greasy head cook Artie, Angela is taken into a back room by Artie, who intends to molest Angela. Before any harm can come to Angela, Artie is found in the midst of unfastening his pants by Ricky, who flees from the kitchen with Angela after Artie threatens him. After the incident in the pantry, Artie is seriously injured when he is knocked off a chair by an unseen figure while tending to a large pot of boiling water that spills on most of his body. Artie's injuries are deemed accidental by camp owner Mel Costic (Mike Kellin), who pays off the rest of his kitchen staff, including the assistant cook Ben (Robert Earl Jones), to keep the event quiet and tells the replacement cooks to tell the campers that Artie left for another job.

    The next day, Ricky, Paul, and the rest of the boys in their cabin, including geek Mozart (Willy Kuskin), are playing baseball with Kenny (John Dunn), Mike (Tom Van Dell), Billy (Loris Sallahian), and the rest of the boys from another cabin. After Ricky wins the game to the older guys, Kenny talks with Mike about how to get back at Ricky.

    Later that night in the recreation cabin during a dance, Angela is accosted by Kenny and Mike, who begin mocking her for not speaking, which prompts Ricky and his friend Paul to get into a fight with the boys in which several others join in, which fulfills their plan of getting back at Ricky. After the brawl is broken up by counselor Gene (Frank Trent Saladino), Ricky and the rest of the boys involved in the fight leave while Paul stays behind and succeeds in befriending Angela by telling her about misadventures he and Ricky would get into when they were younger. The shy Angela still does not talk, but when Paul begins to leave, she speaks for the first time and tells him "good night".

    Later that night, Kenny is rowing a boat with his girlfriend Leslie (Lisa Buckler), and he rocks and overturns the boat. Leslie angrily swims away as Kenny, underneath the overturned boat, is attacked and pushed underwater by an unseen person. In the morning, Kenny's dead and decomposing body is found, and his death is also ruled accidental by Mel, despite suspicion from Ronnie and the police, especially a cop named Frank (Allen Breton).

    Later that day, Angela walks up to Paul and begins to talk to him as he watches the girls play volleyball, much to Judy's irritation. Meg tells Angela that she either must participate or do nothing, which includes talking with boys.

    That evening, Paul and Angela go to the rec room to watch a movie, and they later leave when the movie is over, hand in hand as Angela slowly starts to become more friendly with him. When they are alone, Paul attempts to kiss Angela, but she gets uptight and walks back to her cabin.

    The next day at the lake, Paul sits beside Angela, who tells him that she cannot go in the water. Paul gets up and leaves when Meg arrives. Meg then asks Angela if she is going to swim, but Angela stops talking. Meg angrily shakes the silent girl until Ronnie pulls her away and tells her to leave Angela alone.

    In the girls cabin, Judy approaches Angela and is angry, thinking that she got Meg into trouble. Then Judy begins mocking Angela again and asks her why she will not shower or go swimming, or change clothes with the other girls. Angela continues to be silent, (but it is clear at this point onward that she is hiding something).

    Later that day, Angela is hit in the face with a water balloon by Billy and his friends, who are on a cabin rooftop throwing water balloons at passersby. Mel reprimands the boys on the roof and then grounds Billy for the rest of the summer. Ricky comes to the aid of Angela and tells her, "I'll kill him!" A little later, while his friends go off to play basketball, Billy stays behind in the cabin and goes into the restroom to take a "wicked dump". An unseen person locks him in the toilet stall. The unseen person then cuts the screen behind Billy and shakes a hive full of live bees into the room. Billy eventually breaks out of the stall but is stung to death, with bees covering his face.

    When Mel learns about Billy's death, he becomes more unsettled because he thinks that the camp will be shut down. Mel also grows suspicious of Ricky, whom he believes is killing those who bully Angela.

    The relationship between Angela and Paul grows strained when, that evening, Paul attempts to make out with Angela on the beach, which causes Angela to have a flashback to her youth when she and her brother Peter witnessed their father in bed with Lenny. Angela rejects Paul, who tries to have sex with her, and runs away.

    The next day, Paul, being confused and angered by Angela's rejection of his advances, is easily seduced by Judy, who lures him away from a game of capture the flag, a game assembled by counselor Jeff (Rick Edrich). In the woods, Angela and Ricky talk about Paul and his intentions where Ricky expresses to Angela that he does not trust him, but Angela reminds Ricky that Paul is just a friend. They both happen by Paul and Judy kissing which prompts Angela to run off. A little later, feeling guilty about what happened between him and Judy, Paul attempts to explain himself to Angela while on the beach at the lake but this time, she does not want to talk to him.

    Later that day, as Paul tries again to talk to Angela, he is shooed away by Judy and Meg, who pick up Angela and throw her into the water. After being taken out of the lake by lifeguard Hal (Mike Mahon) and having sand flung at her by several small children, a clearly disturbed Angela is comforted by Ricky, who swears vengeance on her aggressors.

    That evening, Meg, while preparing for a date with Mel, is murdered with a knife while taking a shower, having her back sliced open. Meg's disappearance goes largely unnoticed and camp activities go on as usual with a social being held. While there, Angela is approached by Paul, who again tries to apologize over the incident with Judy. Angela, for some strange reason, tells Paul to meet her later that night at the waterfront after the social.

    Next, six young children, the ones who threw sand at Angela, are taken camping with counselor Eddie (Fred Greene), and when two of them ask to go back because they feel sick, Eddie takes the two back to his car and drives back to the camp. But when Eddie comes back, he finds the other four children in their sleeping bags, hacked to bits with Eddie's ax, which was used to cut wood, lying on the ground, dripping with blood.

    Meanwhile, Mike and Judy are kissing, and Mike hides when Mel stops to ask where Meg is. After Mel leaves, Mike decides that he'd better leave. Mel finds Meg's dead body in the shower stall and thinks that Ricky killed her to get back at him.

    Judy, who had decided to skip the social to be with Mike, goes back to the girls' cabin, and he is killed when the unseen killer enters, and pushes her out. The murderer shoves a pillow on her face and forces a curling iron somewhere unknown (possibly her vagina).

    After the social, the camp is thrown into a panic when Eddie arrives and tells the counselors about the deaths of the four children. Ricky, who missed the social because he felt sick, overhears this news before being attacked by Mel, and he accuses him of killing Meg and all the others. After beating Ricky seemingly to death, Mel stumbles into the camp archery range, where he is shot in the throat with an arrow by the real killer.

    Ronnie calls the police and then tells Marie (Dee Dee Friedman) to gather the other counselors to round up the surviving campers to put them into one cabin until they can root out the killer. As the counselors and the police scour the camp, Angela meets Paul on the beach, where she tells him to undress, which Paul enthusiastically agrees to do.

    Ronnie and Marie find the dead Meg and Mel, while Frank the cop and Gene find Ricky, who is still alive. Gene carries the badly beaten Ricky away to a waiting ambulance as Frank radios for backup.

    Ronnie and Susie (Susan Glaze) find Angela nude on the beach, softly singing to herself and clutching a large knife and Paul's severed head in her hands. Angela is revealed to be both the killer and a boy--the thought-to-be-dead Peter.

    Through flashbacks, it is shown that after Martha gained custody of him, she decided to raise Peter as a girl, already having a son and coming to the conclusion that another boy simply would not do. It's also implied that Peter/Angela was mentally affected in a very negative way by seeing his/her father sharing a homosexual embrace with another man. The film suddenly ends with the nude and blood-covered Angela, male genitalia in full view, standing before Susie and Ronnie, letting out an animalistic hissing sound.

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