Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Amazing how a movie that seems like nothing more than a Friday the 13th summer camp slasher knockoff could go down in infamy because of one quick final shot (that seems to go on forever when you see it for the first time as a teenager). In 1984, Sleepaway Camp was the last film in a Halloween horrorthon on HBO, so at like 3 in the morning, the ending officially made it the scariest Halloween of my life.
Gay sex, a freaky-looking aunt, a pedophile cook, gruesome kills all over the summer camp, an awesome overacting bitch from hell, and creepy Angela. Perfect.
Plus, there are so many hot dudes in tight 80s shorts and cutoff shirts—and they go skinny dipping, so we see plenty of butts (IF you see the unedited version!).
And then there’s the curling iron kill that shows nothing yet leaves nothing to the imagination.
Return to Sleepaway Camp (2008)
I consider this film to be the official sequel since it’s by original creator and director Robert Hiltzik and brings back Felissa Rose as Angela, cousin Ricky, and camp counselor Ronnie.
People HATE this movie. Okay. So you can tell immediately how Angela is going to come back into the picture. There’s also a similar plot to the original, with a kid being tormented at summer camp—a boy this time. Unfortunately, this boy is totally obnoxious and unlikeable. His scenes make the film drag, even though the pacing is the same as the original, with consistent kills interspersed.
We begin with a cook killed in the kitchen, sort of an homage to the original. This time it’s hot oil instead of hot water, and the cook is that dude who plays Jamie Gertz’s husband on the TV show The Neighbors. After that, the kills are pretty dang inventive and gory.
The real payoff for fans is the ending, which reunites Ronnie, Ricky, and Angela. It definitely has that old skool feel. And Felissa Rose proves she can still make terrifying faces 25 years later. She gets her shining moment and it rox.
Don’t miss the scene after the credits. It most likely implies that there’s going to be a sequel, but it can actually be a segue into parts 2 and 3 if you think about it!
BTW, Vincent Pastore of The Sopranos and Isaac Hayes both appear in the movie.
Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988)
With the original film having such an impact on horror fans, it was just a matter of time before sequels were made. After 5 years, Angela came back! Apparently Felissa Rose was going to school or something, so she didn’t return. Instead, Pamela Springsteen, the sister of Bruce Springsteen, took on the role. Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers also stars a female Estevez/Sheen sibling!
This really is a different animal than the original. It’s sort of black/dark comedy, with Angela wisecracking as we watch her torture and slaughter her victims (it even pokes fun at Friday the 13th). So there are no scares, there’s no mystery. It’s all about the body count. The kills are bloody and sometimes disgusting (see the outhouse kill). There are also TONS of boobs.
Void of much story, it’s really just Angela watching out for the underdog—and showing a sweet, normal side when she’s not being a sadistic be-otch. The ending is very satisfying, with the final girl tied up with all these dead bodies around her, and Angela hinting at what became of her “little secret.”
Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989)
It’s Angela…the urban edition. Forcing city folk into horror movies was all the rage in the genre by the late 80s/early 90s. This time Angela works at a camp for a bunch of stereotypical street kids. The movie begins immediately with boobs—really small boobs. But fear not—bigger boobs show up.
Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland is ruined by dialogue and plot! Get to the kills already!!! It resembles the first film and “Return” in that it has numerous pranks being played by the kids. By the time Angela really starts to kill, she seems to have lost her creativity. The film is a bit more routine and her one-liners just aren’t very funny. And she’s lost focus on her motivation for killing. It’s all pretty generic…and Angela doesn’t die. But Sleepaway Camp IV: The Survivor was never completed, and the footage that does exist is nonsensical when viewed out of context.
Really, I think the original and Return should be watched as a double feature and II & III should be watched after them as a double feature. It’s the smoothest transition. But I’ll never get past Felissa Rose not being Angela.
And here’s me trying to recreate the look of the guys in this film: