Sleepaway Camp. Another franchise. This one goes fantastically off the rails. This first one. Wow. The ending is fucking insanely shocking and comes out of nowhere. The second and third installments, at least, ignore that ending and basically everything that goes down in this first flick except that someone named Angela who looks vaguely like Sarah Silverman kills kids at camp. But yeah. This movie is insane and shocking and in fact is the greatest of all time. There is a fucking crazy spoiler here but basically everyone fucking knows it by now. The movie is almost as old as I am after all.
Rotten Tomato Consensus: Sleepaway Camp is a standard teen slasher elevated by occasional moments of John Waters-esque weirdness and a twisted ending.
Pros: One of the most memorable movies I've seen. Smart and well set up. One of the best reveals in all of horror. Great setup for that shit too. Campy as fuck and completely unique. The Angela actress is super solid.
Cons: Pretty fucking transphobic. Pretty low budget. Definitely not the most taut movie I've ever seen.
Here we go. The movie is about a young girl, one Angela Baker, played by one Felissa Rose who looks like a young Sarah Silverman, apprehensive and disturbed, who goes to Camp Arawak with her cousin Ricky, Jonathan Tierston who looks a lot like a child Tony Danza, where people with dubious intentions start dying in gruesome but often times explainable ways--scalding by boiling water, drowning, bees ("not the bees!"), so forth--before things really escalate as the movie eventually ends with insanity. Angela is all disturbed and what not after her family is killed in the opening scene in a boating accident which is why she lives as a second class citizen with her insane fucking aunt who is way over-the-top and cousin, who seems nice, actually. If it weren't for the outrageously shocking ending, it is unlikely the movie would be remembered at all. But that sure as shit was one hell of an ending. Besides Rose it is unlikely you are going to recognize anyone in this movie though there is an actor of note in Robert Earl Jones, who isn't so much known for his work but for his progeny James Earl Jones. Yep, Darth Vader himself.
The weirdness begins at ground zero of this flick, starting out with a strange dedication at the beginning before the opening credits. It reads In fond memory of mom. A doer." Uh, what the hell does that mean in this context? Could you imagine dedicating this POS to your dead mom who was apparently a real go-getter. That's how we enter this strange world.
|This lady. Fucking crazy|
Flick features one of the biggest pieces of shit I've seen in a while that says something made me nearly retch. So this guy, the head cook at the camp who is 40 years old, stands out in the parking lot as the kids get dropped off by their parents and take their shit to their bunks. This guy openly checks out these kids who are like 12 and comments on them to his all male coworkers while practically stroking himself. The thing he says that was fucking disgusting was something like "look at all that fresh chicken." Fucking gross. Fuck this guy. And his coworkers are like cool with this and shit. Fuck them too. He immediately then tries to sexually assault Angela, again, like 12, by taking her into the storage room and forcing himself on her. He is undoing his belt when the cousin comes in and goes ape shit. He claims he's not doing anything while zipping up his fly and flying into a rage... and everyone believes him! Since trying to rape a child is totally fine in 1983, the guy is just making soup in the next scene in a like 10 foot tall pot that I'm pretty sure wouldn't cook shit. But the water boils and what not and we get a POV of the killer pulling the chair the guy is standing on out from under him and he ends up sort of hanging over the pot, eventually, and unnecessarily, falling on top of it and pulling it down all over him. He screams hysterically for the rest of the time he is in the movie.
|The infamous jorts game|
The murders are all pretty cray. My personal fave is also, not coincidentally, the most homoerotic. There we get this rapey asshole on a boat that has previously tooled on Angela for being weird, basically. Well, he ends up taking this chick out and purposefully overturns the boat. She swims back pissed while the dude sort of chills under the capsized boat. Meanwhile, his dude friends skinny dip and play grab-ass for no reason. That's when the killer shows up and says something like, "the rest of the boys will be glad to see you." Again, rape vibe. But the killer, Angela, spoiler, has none of that and drowns him. The next day when they find his body with snakes coming out of it and shit, that idiot camp owner dude is all about explaining away all the suspicious deaths which is most of what these movies are, the owner coming up with weak excuses before eventually getting killed himself. In this one, the EMT or whatever is like, "we'll have to wait for the medical examiner to check him over before we can know what happened." The owner just starts acting like a dick and comes up with his own theory of how he hit his head. EMT says, verbatim, "I don't think so. Weren't any bumps or bruises when I checked. Though again, I'm no expert on this matter." So this old guy just bullies him, yelling something like "the boy scared and panicked. Right?" And the EMT says "that could be a logical explanation." And that is fucking that. Case closed.
One thing though... So... this ending is pretty problematic. Nor does it what you would call age well. Angela is basically portrayed as nonhuman with her insane hiss and face fixed in a permascream which is supposed to be even more terrifying when it pans out and we see the penis. More than anything, now, it comes as an out of nowhere shock for being transphobic. Basically, this movie equates Angela's psychopathy with her quote unquote confused gender role. It's not Ace Venturabad but basically the reveal was meant to be shocking in and of itself is the one of many movies that portray the trans character as a psycho that just loves killing. Most trans people, as it turns out, aren't this way, but you would never know it from movies from the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
Nonetheless, MVP has to be Rose who does one hell of a job with what is not an easy performance. Shows a lot of range as we see her as both a vulnerable kid and a terrifying psychopath. Plus it can't be easy to take on a role like that as a teenager in the 80s. And she grew up to be a beautiful woman who seems more or less pretty well adjusted. Ricky also does a hell of a job for a kid and the jacked camp councilor was over-the-top but cool. Overall, a dope fucking movie.