Sleepaway Camp (1983), Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988), Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989)
Synopsis: In the original, the shy and reserved Angela Baker attends summer camp with her cousin Ricky. Angela is taunted mercilessly by the other girls and soon things go horribly wrong and campers start turning up dead. The following films pick up with a character from the original now grown up, but continuing their vaguely moral slashings as a Camp Counselor.
Killer Scene: In Sleepaway Camp, the final frame will either leave you speechless or have you cheering your ass off. Revealing the scene would make me a huge douchebag. So, in lieu of the real killer scene, I offer up Camp Operator Mel, an old man, beating the crap out of Ricky, a young boy. Those were the days.
Violence: The first installment is a little bit tamer in what they show than the later installments, but the kills are still brutal. There are beatings, arrows, slashings, hatchet murders of children, and death by curling iron in the vagina. Yeah, you heard that right. That’s fatal.
Sex: The series doesn’t bring out the hooters for real until the second installment – after all, the first installment is about very young children. There is still a glimpse, but in the second a group of kids calling themselves the “Tit Patrol” make sure there are plenty of boobs to go around. The third installment may have some sort of record, revealing a pair of breasts within the first 34 seconds, before the title credits have even finished.
Scares: More in line with the slasher genre than an actual scary movie, the film doesn’t pack too many frightening moments. The later installments especially, considering you know who the killer is the entire time. But, there are some scary ideas put forth, like kids committing violence, violence against kids, and some other, more deeply troubling thoughts, that can only be fully understood by watching.
Final Thoughts: Sleepaway Camp is a hidden treasure. It is very often overlooked, which is a tragedy. The first film is a masterpiece. I recommend it to any fan of 80s horror or anyone who wants a shocking good time – emphasis on the shocking. When the film was first recommended to me years back, the advice I was offered was “Don’t eat anything while you’re watching it.” A fun film that takes a fairly unique (especially at the time) approach to the slasher-in-the-woods genre, I count this as a personal favorite and hope you’ll track it down.
*Note: There is a fourth installment, Return to Sleepaway Camp, set to come out on DVD in November, but it looks like it may be abandoning the storylines contained in the original trilogy.
Have you seen Sleepaway Camp? Thoughts? Don’t Spoil It, Please.