Welcome to Camp
Arawak, where teenage boys and girls learn to experience the joys of nature,
as well as each other. But when these happy campers begin to die
in a series of horrible 'accidents,' they discover that someone - or something
- has turned their summer of fun into a vacation to dismember. Has
a dark secret returned from the camp's past... or will an unspeakable horror
end the season forever?
"She's a real carpenter's dream... flat as a board and needs a screw!"
Sleepaway Camp qualifies as one of those oddball entries in the horror genre, a movie
so offbeat and sleazy in its implications that it isn't any wonder that
it found its way to DVD quite rapidly. Fully deserving of its cult status,
this low budget film about, surprise, a summer camp and the bloody shenanigans
wreaked within its confines by a deranged killer ranks as one of the movies
you simply must watch (after you have seen it) with someone unfamiliar
with its sordid secrets. Regrettably, at some point a few years ago I accidentally
stumbled over a major spoiler on one of those Internet review sites and
ruined my experience when I finally sat down to watch the film. Don't worry,
I won't spoil this gem for you, but you may want to take note of my experience
and become very selective about the various synopses you may read about
this picture. Sleepaway Camp is well worth watching, although your
initial impressions about Angela and the gang might give you a certain
initial degree of pause. I can't speak for the sequels based on the original
film as I haven't seen any of them, but I cannot imagine they are better
in any significant way than this one.
Camp opens with a tragedy as a family-two small children and their
two dads (!)-sail around a lake on a little boat. When a careless gang
of people with a speedboat runs over this family's vessel, only one of
the children survives the catastrophe. Flash forward a few years to a new
family getting ready to send the youngsters away to summer camp. Aunt Martha,
a character played so over the top that her voice would melt steel, coos
over her son Ricky and his cousin Angela. She wishes them the best and
prepares to send them to a camp that very quickly resembles the type of
place the Marquis De Sade might run if he was still alive. Called Camp
Arawak, the place simmers with teenage intrigues, seething jealousies,
and homoerotic situations. The hormones flow like water throughout the
camp as various individuals jockey for power over other people. At the
bottom of the social totem pole sits the wretched Angela, a rail thin,
mousy haired young lady with eyes the size of saucers. Angela rarely talks
to anyone, provoking outraged responses to her presence among her counselors
and fellow campers. She finally does meet a nice boy with whom she willingly
talks, but for the most part, she bears silent witness to the increasingly
bizarre behavior occurring in camp.
the only normal guy at Arawak, takes Angela under his wing at camp, sticking
up for her when needed and introducing her around to the various psychotics
masquerading as counselors and fellow campers. Of course, Ricky has his
own problems: his camp girlfriend from last year underwent a significant
growth spurt during the intervening months and now only has eyes for older,
better developed guys. Then there are the obnoxious older campers and sadistic
counselors, several of whom decide to launch a vendetta against Ricky and
his cousin. The quarrels between Ricky and several specific individuals
become so well known around camp that when the murders start happening,
and the sauce begins to flow, the head counselor seriously considers Ricky
as the primary suspect in the crimes. The various killings aren't all that
impressive to serious gore fans, with the exception of the cook who takes
a dip in a huge pot of boiling hot water, but at least these moderately
disturbing crimes lead up to a conclusion that explodes across your consciousness
with the force of a nuclear bomb. The last scenes of Sleepaway Camp provide the most important reason you should watch this movie, but not
the only one. This picture often surprises with its daring portrayals of
the darker side of human nature. Controversial issues such as child molestation
appear regularly as plot points, making this movie one of the seedier slasher
The DVD of Sleepaway
Camp rises above your average schlock horror film release by including
a commentary track with director Robert Hiltzik, Felissa Rose (the actress
who played the Angela character), and moderator Jeff Hayes. Obviously,
those involved with the making of the movie realized how memorable of an
experience they created. If the commentary isn't enough for you, you also
get a trailer and picture quality that is quite good for a film of this
age and budget. Anyway, give this morbid little piece of trash cinema a
whirl in your DVD player; it may not rank as the best film ever made, but
it will sure throw you for a loop once or twice.
her scenes, Felissa Rose had to wear a tight bra to keep her breasts flattened.
a child, writer/director: Robert Hiltzik actually went to the camp which
was used in the film.
Camp was shot in 5 weeks on a budget of only $350,000!
- When Sleepaway
Camp opened, it was the top grossing film in New York, beating out
it's horror competition by raking in almost double the gross of Amityville
filming of the scene where the canoe flips over in the lake, John Dunn
cut the top of his hand open against a sharp rock on the lake's bottom.
He had to be rushed to hospital.
the climactic final scene, A local college student had to shave his body
and stand naked on the waterfront wearing a PLASTER mask of Angela's face
(for the long shot). Apparently, the guy had to get pretty plastered himself
in order to do the scene. Hey, 'aint nuttin' a few beers can't fix!
the scene where the guys go skinny dipping, Loris "Billy" Sallahian walked
off the set because he was not very pleased with the conditions. Director,
Robert Hiltzik had a personal chat with him and Loris returned to the set.
infamous killer hands that are seen in the film actually belong to none
other than "Ricky" himself, Jonathan Tiersten. It had been written into
Felissa Roses' contract that she would not actually do any of the killings
Tiersten and Felissa Rose had somewhat of a puppy-love romance while filming.
Leslie swims back to shore after the canoe flips, Leslie is actually played
by Robert's Wife, Missy, in that scene. The original "Leslie" got mono
and was sick for that segment of filming.
Kuskin was being picked on just like his character, Mozart, by one of the Sleepaway Cast. At some points it got so bad that Frank Trent Saladino (who played
Mozart's Counselor Gene) actually stepped in to protect Willy!