It’s the middle of the summer and there’s no better time to talk about one of my favorite slasher movies.
Back in the early eighties, after the success of Friday The 13th, the studios realized how profitable the slasher genre could be. Why spend a ton of money on a risky blockbuster when you could spend a fraction of that budget and still potentially reach those heights? One of these cash-in movies was Sleepaway Camp. When you hear of a slasher movie taking place at a summer camp, you would most likely think of Friday The 13th right off the bat. I have to suspect that this was the studio’s intention, hoping people might be confused and pay to see what they think is a sequel. However, this is not the case, and we are given a pretty unique experience. The plot’s main focus is around Angela and her cousin Ricky, who are both attending summer camp. Through the film, we mostly follow them and the other kids at the camp. This is already a deviation from the Friday the 13th series, as the main focus was typically on the counselors. Felissa Rose gives a very reserved performance as Angela, exactly what the role required, and she really shows off her acting abilities. In fact, all the kids give great performances, some better even than the adults. The film provides a surreal atmosphere with score from Edward Bilous and direction from Robert Hiltzik. Whenever someone is killed, the camera shifts to something closer to the killer’s point of view. This along with some intriguing flashback sequences help provide a look that really sets this apart from other films in the genre. Now, if you know anything about this movies reputation, then I’m sure you’re aware of the ending. I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but it is one of the most iconic in the genre. When it was released, it was met with mixed reviews, but that didn’t stop it from becoming a franchise and it has spawned three sequels.
The first three films are available on Blu-Ray from Scream Factory, and I highly recommend those editions. So, if you haven’t seen any of this franchise yet, don’t sleep on it.