The Horror Honeys: A Slightly Embarrassing First Viewing of 'Sleepaway Camp'

A Slightly Embarrassing First Viewing of 'Sleepaway Camp'

A Slasher Honey Retro Review by Chassity

Sleepaway Camp (1983)

Okay, I confess. I’ve been a naughty Slasher Honey. Up until this week, I had never gotten around to seeing Sleepaway Camp. I know, I know. How can this be? 

As I’ve said before, I’ve grown wary of seeing certain “classic” horror films: the kind of film that everyone else knows, has seen, and has been hyped up for so long that I’m afraid it will only be a letdown for me. 

I’ve been putting off watching Sleepaway Camp for years, for exactly that reason. Well, that and the fact that I’ve always known the ending thanks to the statute of limitations on spoiler alerts. Not that I’m complaining. 

Surprisingly, Sleepaway Camp did not disappoint. It was one of those rare films that held up to, and against, all the hype. That’s more than I can say for a lot of horror films. But even more than that, for me it passed the Horror TV Honey Lisa Fremont Test: it’s a film I could easily watch three times in a row. 

The Story: Do I even really need to? I’m certainly the last person I know to see this film. But, okay, for anybody out there like me who has been living under a rock, here’s the deal. Two children (Angela and Peter), their father, and their father’s male lover go on a boating trip. In typical “things go horribly awry” fashion, the father and one of his children (Peter) die in a boating accident. After this, Angela, the surviving child is sent to live with her aunt and her cousin (Ricky). She sends them to summer camp, where Angela is constantly bullied and murders start happening, particularly to those who treat poor Angela badly. 

The Good: It wasn’t difficult to see why everyone seems to loves this movie so much. It was everything a slasher of that time period was supposed to be. I hated the characters I was supposed to hate, I was creeped out when I was supposed to be creeped out, and it follows the slasher formula without being totally predictable. The aftermath of the deaths? Absolutely terrifying. I was so disturbed by some of the images that I found it difficult to sleep after watching this movie. 

And let me just go ahead and say it; the scariest thing about this movie was Angela’s aunt. She totally gave me goosebumps. 

I also liked that there was sort of a mystery element to Sleepaway Camp. Clues are given throughout the film that we don’t know the whole story, that there’s more under the surface. I also love that we’re sort of misdirected into thinking that the wrong person is the killer. At least, I would have been if the ending wasn’t told to me way beforehand. I have a soft spot for slasher films that make good use of flashbacks, backstory, and a slight mystery without being over the top. 

My other slasher movie soft spot? A good twist ending. And while the element of surprise was taken from me, the intensity and scariness of that ending were not. It was the kind of ending that made the little girl in me want to cover my eyes. 

The Bad: As usual, me being a child of another generation, the acting definitely left something to be desired. But that’s okay. I was able to find humor in it. Take it from someone who watches slasher movies all the time; if that’s the worst one can say about a horror movie, then that’s a good thing. 

The Ugly: Sleepaway Camp did leave me a little confused. Perhaps there was some type of message there about gender and sexual social issues. I’m just not sure what it was… While I ended up loving everything about this movie, I’ve never been a fan of ambiguity or being left confused by a film. 

Slasher Honey Rating: 4 out of 5 creepy hisses 

Sleepaway Camp is available via Netflix Disc, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube VOD, Google Play, and DVD/blu-ray

Do you love the madness of Sleepaway Camp?
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