Sunday, 11 January 2015

Sleepaway Camp (1983)

A film whose reputation is built on two things. One: the short and completely batshit crazy performance by Desiree Gould as Aunt Martha. Two: the final twist ending. Does the film offer more than just these two scenes?

Unusually Camp Arawak really does look like I imagine an American summer camp to look like. For one, unlike many of the other camp slashers, it's full of kids, and I mean kids, not twelve 20 somethings acting like 16 year-olds.

The kills are telegraphed in advance so we know what's going to happen and anticipate the action. They are however efficient, imaginative and of high quality.

Some of the campiest (excuse the pun) camp outfits ever seen in a slasher. We've got muscle shirts, crop-tops, tight satin shorts, denim cut-offs, fishnet t-shirts. The whole film is is chock full of homoerotic scenes and the sexual politics, although incredibly fucked up in one particular scene, can also be quite interesting (macho males dressing and acting like the very people they hate and deride). There's also some great proto-mullets.

Worst thing: the open mouthed madness at the end. It's hard to discuss this without a MAJOR spoiler but if they'd shown a little vulnerability instead of insanity a huge problem that a lot of people have with the film would have been fixed.

So is the film better than just the two things? Most definitely yes. It's well paced, the acting is okay for the most part, the killings are superb. Sleepaway Camp is a great addition to the summer camp slasher film sub-genre.

Best thing: Felicia Rose's stare, She really is terrific and I can see why she's so popular at horror conventions.

Original letterboxd review

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