Sleepaway Camp (1983)

I’ve covered Leatheface.  Jason Voorhees popped up a couple weeks ago.  Freddy Krueger even haunted our nightmares last week.  Now it’s time to introduce you to Angela.

Who’s Angela?  Well, she was the star of a series of slasher flicks derivative of the original Friday the 13th film.  She first appeared in this week’s feature, Sleepaway Camp.  And in no way do I expect this movie to end with any kind of twist ending whatsoever.

This is the type of movie I fucking loved when I was a kid.  It’s a movie that placed kids in peril.  The majority of the cast are kids of obvious young ages.  I don’t believe any of the kids are meant to be older than 16.  While there are plenty of adults around to be victims, the vast majority of kills are young kids.  Like real young.

And while, sure, that would be bothersome to a kid watching a movie like this, the 80s were lousy with movies that featured kids doing things things on their own, dealing with adventures, and problems, and terrors.  It is one of the reasons why Stranger Things is such a big hit for most people who grew up in that decade.  We all had some sense of freedom to explore and get into problems and run away from bad guys, find gold from a pirate ship in some cave, and get killed by a stalking killer at a sleepaway camp.

The 80s were fucking sweet, guys.

I really don’t think I need to intro this anymore.  Let me give you the skinny from the back of the beautiful Scream Factory Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack: “After a terrible boating accident killed her family, shy Angela Baker went to live with her eccentric Aunt Martha and her cousin Ricky.  This summer, Martha decides to send them both to Camp Arawak, a place to enjoy the great outdoors.  Shortly after their arrival, a series of bizarre and violent ‘accidents’ begin to claim the lives of various campers.  Has a dark secret returned from the camp’s past… or will an unspeakable horror end the Summer season for all?  From its grisly makeup effects to the truly shocking and unforgettable climax, Sleepaway Camp is no ordinary slasher film… it’s a cult classic!”

It doesn’t get much better than this everybody.  Let’s dive in!

Now, the movie dives right the fuck in with the title of the movie and a little bit of a prologue.  Young Angela and Peter are on a boat on a lake with their father.  The lake appears to be at a popular campsite.  While the kids and their dad are having a grand old time, there is a boat whipping around the lake with a girl water skiing behind it.  The boat is being driven by one of the employees at the resort/camp place.  The girl next to the guy driving the boat is the friend of the water skier?  She eventually ends up talking the boy into letting her drive.  This leads to her not being skilled enough to avoid the kids and the father who fell into the water after the kids played a prank on their dad.  This leads to the death of the father and one of the kids.

Eight years later, we are introduced to Angela, now old enough to go to camp, her cousin Ricky, who is also going to camp, and his mother.  His mother is absolutely bananas.  She says most of her lines like stage actors do to project their voice to the back of the auditorium.  She speaks to herself often and says weird asides out loud whenever she is reminded of something that she needs to think about.  This is the morning, though, that Angela and Ricky are headed to Camp Arawak.  There, they will learn all sorts of neat things to do with sticks and bear scat, make new friends, probably feel up a girl or get felt up by a boy, play sports, and not a single terrible thing will happen at all.  The end.


So the kids arrive at the camp.  The ages of the kids appear to be anywhere from about 10 years old to about 16.  The staff watch the kids arrive, and there’s a disgusting pedophile chef who calls the kids “baldies” because they don’t have any pubic hair.  Fucking gross, man.  I sure hope you’re gonna get killed.

Oh, hey!  I recognize the look they are giving Angela. Yeah, it’s the same look girls give me when I try to be cool but only end up tripping, falling, splitting my pants, and farting.

Ricky sees his pal from the previous summers, Paul, who takes an immediate liking to Angela.  While Ricky shows Angela around, they see his flame from last year, Judy.  Judy’s grown a sweet pair of tits over the past year and she’s now getting the attention of the older boys and no longer cares about Ricky and his bullshit.  Once in her cabin, Angela just stares at Judy.  The head bitch of the cabin, Meg, pretty much teams up with Judy to pick on Angela just because she’s shy and seemingly mute.

At the mess hall, Meg shits on Angela by tattling to one of the counselors, Ronnie, that she’s hardly eaten.  He takes her to the pedophile cook who plans to take her to the walk-in fridge where he plans to shove his dick in her face until Ricky catches them.

Jesus Christ, man.

Later, the chef gets his comeuppance when he’s attacked while checking on boiling water.  We’re not shown who attacks him.  Instead, we’re shown the attacker’s point of view.  The attacker pulls the chair out from under the chef causing him to pull a giant pot of boiling water all over him and messing him up pretty bad.  Mel, the camp owner, decides to try to cover this up as much as possible.  Mel is basically a dirtbag who doesn’t want the kids or their parents to get upset over accidents happening and for him to lose any money.

The movie takes a break to show us pretty much all the innings of a softball game between Ricky and his younger cabin versus the older kids before going to a social that night.  The dance scene is just there for the older kids (who all look to be about 32 years old) to bird dog the chicks and for them to hassle Angela by asking her to come to the lake with them for her to be molested.  When she doesn’t respond to their advances, they berate Angela by calling her “fucked up” or a “nutcase”, etc.  This causes Ricky to start a fight between them while everyone just watches.  When Ricky is taken to get checked out by one of the counselors, Paul moseys up to Angela and tells her all about the shenanigans they’d get into in the prior years.  Because Angela seems to finally lighten up a little bit, this causes Judy to get pissy that she’s not getting attention.  Angela also speaks for the first time to tell Paul goodnight when his bunk is called back to their cabin.

At the lake, the older boys try to talk the girls into joining them for late night skinny dipping, but when the girls decline, the boys strip down and decide to swim and play grab ass without them.  Another boy takes a girl out on a canoe and flips it over as a joke.  The girl swims off and when the boy goes under the canoe to flip it back up, he’s surprised by our attacker who drowns the kid.  When the other guys just think he’s goofing on them by not coming with them back to the bunk, they leave him out in the water.  His body is found the next morning with snakes and shit crawling out of his face.  Mel, again, tries to keep the death quiet and make sure that everyone agrees that it was a stupid accident from the kid being careless.

Later, the girls are playing volleyball.  Paul comes up to Angela and asks her to come to the mess hall and watch a movie with him.  Judy gets pissed that Angela has Paul’s attention, and Meg yells at Angela for not participating in the activities with the rest of the girls.  Paul walks Angela back to the girls’ bunk and sneaks a kiss on her which causes Angela to immediately get freaked out and want to go inside immediately.

Later, Judy has Meg give Angela more crap about not going into the water like the other girls do.  When Angela refuses to respond to Meg, she starts to shake Angela and scream at her.  Later, at the bunk, Judy continues to pick on Angela and asks her why she never takes showers.  Seriously, girls…  What could you possibly be trying to get at with all these questions and accusations?  I swear you are trying to reveal that Angela is actually a boy or something…

Oh but never mind that…  Here’s what all us boys did in the 80s – throw water balloons at each other on the roofs of buildings.

We literally did not care if we lived or died back then.

One of the boys smashes Angela with a water balloon causing Ricky to lose his fucking mind over them busting Angela’s balls.  That kid later goes to the shithouse to “take a wicked dump” and gets locked into the stall.  The attacker who has been taking out everyone who’s messed with Angela then drops a bee’s nest into the stall which causes them to sting the boy to death.

Mel is convinced that Ricky is the killer.  He’s blind with anger that Ricky’s ruining the camp and causing him to go broke.  Ronnie thinks Mel is acting nutty, but he says that he sees all the anger in Ricky’s eyes whenever he gets pissed at whoever is messing with Angela.  That night, Paul and Angela make out at the lake, and when he tries to undress her, she asks him to stop.  There’s a flashback to when Ricky and Angela caught their dad and his lover after sex.  Then it morphs into a scene that seems to imply she and Peter experimented with each other when they got curious about sex.  That doesn’t really go much further so it’s really kind of hard to explain anything other than there’s some weird shit from Angela’s past.  This causes her, again, to run away from Paul giving Judy a chance to move in on Paul.  They get found by both Angela and Ricky.

Later, Paul tries to apologize for what happened, but when Judy interrupts, she basically reveals that Paul may have called Angela a prude and revealed that he wasn’t as hoodwinked by Judy trying to seduce him as it seems.  While Mel tries to confront Ricky about all the “accidents” going on, Meg and Judy pick Angela up and toss her into the water.  When Ricky sees Angela getting tossed into the water, he tries to go to her aid, but Mel grabs Ricky and accuses him of killing all those kids because each one did something to mess with Angela.

That night, there’s a big social planned for the kids at the camp.  The smallest kids are going to camp at the lake.  Meg is given the night off and she sets up a date with Mel.  Holy fuck…  The old gross guy who runs the camp is going on a date with probably the hottest girl at the camp (and shaddup… Katherine Kamhi, who played Meg, was definitely over 18 by this time so I can say she’s the hottest chick at the camp without coming off as a complete creep).  Thankfully, though I don’t have to witness a date between a guy in his 60s with a girl who is portrayed as a 16 year old because the killer stabs Meg to death while she is showering.

Meg… I’m just as much of a creep as this guy.  Plus? I’ve got 30 years on him which means I can hold an erection for at least 45 seconds longer than old man river here can.

Paul tries to apologize to Angela again.  She tells him to meet her at the lake after the social.  Things start to really pick up at this point.  A couple of the little kids camping by the lake get cold in their sleeping bags so their counselor takes them back to the bunk leaving the rest behind.  While only the aftermath is shown, all the kids are slaughtered.  At the girls’ bunk, Judy and one of the older guys make out.  Mel comes looking for Meg.  The boy leaves for fear that Mel will come back and find him where he’s not supposed to be.  Mel finds Meg’s dead body and immediately believes Ricky did it.  Back at the girls’ bunk, someone enters and approaches Judy and knocks her out.  She is then killed by having a curling iron rammed up her vagina.

The little kids are discovered and while Mel slaps Ricky around for killing everyone, and by “slaps around” I mean beats the holy fuck out of him.  It’s almost implied that Mel beat Ricky to death because after he finishes clubbing the poor kid with his fists, but he runs into the real killer who arrows him through the throat.

At the lake, Angela meets with Paul and suggests they go skinny dipping.  The sheriff finds Ricky who is badly beaten but still alive much to the delight of a counselor and the sheriff.  Ronnie and another counselor go looking for Angela and Paul.  They hear singing and find Angela and Paul.  Another flashback shows that Aunt Martha has brought home the surviving kid from the accident.  Aunt Martha explains that Peter was the child who survived and raised him as Angela.  At the camp, Angela stands up revealing that she’s decapitated Paul and…

Oh my god!  Angela has an eggplant for a dick!  Er…  I mean, Angela has a dick!  Yeah, Angela actually died at the beginning of the movie.  Peter was raised as a gender confused boy by a psychopath aunt and thus, became the killer we meet in this movie.  She also lets out with this guteral growl/hiss noise that is fucking frightening as all get out.  The movie holds on that close up her face too while the credits play if that doesn’t make you want to say your prayers when you go to sleep…

It isn’t too hard to see how people would have been surprised by the reveal that Angela, the meek and shy girl constantly picked on and seemingly too weak to defend herself was the actual killer.  However, it’s pretty easily laid out for you.  The killer was quiet while Ricky was a goddamn madman running around dropping f-bombs and telling people to eat shit.  I am 100% positive, though, people didn’t expect to see full frontal on a kid and there be a little dick dangling there.  While Angela was played by Felissa Rose, an actual girl, I’m surprised this passed the MPAA without an immediate X rating.  Even in 1983.  I wonder how much the people who made this movie had to prove that 1) the dick was a prosthetic and 2) the prosthetic also covered Rose’s actual chest (by providing a shadow) so there wasn’t a topless 14 year old girl on screens across the country.

The movie itself is relatively well liked.  A lot of people mock the movie for its over the top acting, silly reaction shots from Angela’s point of view when victims see her each time, the total rip off from the Friday the 13th movies, and the utter simplicity of the plot itself.  However, this was released during the Golden Age of Slasher Flicks.  That’s a period of time when scares were relatively cheap and the movies were well remembered.  In fact, this movie holds a very solid score on Rotten Tomatoes.  It’s probably better than any of the other early 80s slashers.  Part of that is because the movie was a small independent movie made cheap, quick and cashed in big.

Also, if you dissect the movie bit by bit, you discover there are some pretty interesting things to be found.  First, Felissa Rose is really REALLY good as Angela.  She’s got a stare that will unnerve you.  She has no expression, even when Judy or Meg are tearing her a new one, and her eyes are so dark brown they almost seem black.  She was largely unused as an actress until the late 90s, but I was surprised to find out she worked pretty steadily, first with shorts then to movies, over the last 20 years.

The next might be a bit weird, but you have to stay with me here.  So our main mean girl, Judy, is revealed to have been Ricky’s main squeeze the summer before.  Paul is good enough to let us know that Judy sprouted some tits since everyone last saw her.  Okay.  Groundwork laid.  Her sexuality, the fact that she gets noticed by all the boys, and her general bitchiness leads her to be the perfect foil for Angela.

Now, here’s where I get weird.

Also side pony = hot.  80s hot.

As the movie continues, each time we see Judy, she’s dressed sexier and sexier.  She starts with the same t-shirt and shorts outfit everyone is wearing on the first day of camp.  Then we see her wearing shorter shorts.  Then, a one piece bathing suit.  Then, a bikini (as seen above).  As we last see her, she’s full on making out with a boy in tight jeans before changing into a football jersey to sleep in.  How does she die?  By getting vaginally raped by a curling iron.  Even though this movie doesn’t quite use the same formula other slashers did of punishing those who had sex with death, the girl who was recognized as getting sexier from one year to the next, who continually wears sexier outfits as the movie continues, dies by having her sexual organs burned beyond recognition (I can only assume).

Lastly, and I’ve been working on this math for some time while I write this article, but I think each of the major death scenes have some sort of connection to the seven deadly sins.  Paul’s death would maybe be lust since he was trying to get into Angela’s dong-filled panties all movie.  Meg’s would be greed because she clearly was after Mel because he was the power behind the camp and likely, at least she thought, would have money.  Mel’s death would be wrath since he became blinded by hatred of Ricky, especially after Meg was killed.  Judy was envious of Angela and the attention she got from others.  The guy who died from being drowned showed off a lot of pride by promising to show the girls a good time on the lake.  The little kids were sloths because they were all lazy and sleeping like little turds.  Finally, the guy who died while taking a shit from all the bee stings was gluttonous because not only did he get a chance to shit in a stall with a door in the early 80s, but he also was reading a comic book on the shitter.  Clearly he had it made and was reveling in it.

Okay, I may have stretched it a bit there, but prove me wrong, assholes.

Well, I think I pretty much broke this down about as much as I could.  I’ve got a short turn around this week because you’re not only getting an article next Friday, but also on Tuesday!  Yup, it’s Halloween and it’s time to wrap up my month of slashers with a look at an oddball from its series – Halloween III: Season of the Witch!

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