Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Movie Review: Sleepaway Camp

Sleepaway Camp (1983, Robert Hiltzik) - 10.0
After a tragic boating accident kills her father and sibling, young Angela goes to live with her eccentric Aunt Martha and cousin Ricky. The kids are sent to summer camp, where the reserved Angela is constantly picked on by the other kids, especially by total bitches Judy and Meg, who are insanely nasty, and a pleasure to watch. Those who give her trouble, though, soon start meeting grisly deaths, starting with the sleazy pedophile cook who tries to molest her. Shortly after this incident, which Ricky had managed to save her from, the cook is drenched with boiling water, leaving him screaming endlessly as his skin bubbles and boils, in a sequence that is wonderfully unrelenting. More murders follow, using everything from a beehive to a curling iron as weapons.

Most of the characters in the film are deliriously despicable, and in contrast, the protagonists are amazing. Angela is sweet and adorable, and whether she’s the killer, or if it’s the protective Ricky, you just want what’s best for her, no matter what. The scene where we finally hear her speak for the first time, to a boy who has been nice to her, is one of cinema’s most endearing moments.

The film is not the first summer camp slasher, but it stands out for casting real teenagers with realistically filthy mouths, and even though it’s gloriously campy (and genuinely hilarious), there’s also a sense of realism. All the cruelty is over the top, but it’s also recognizable, which helps you care for the good guy characters, and twists the genre and perhaps your own morality, since you are definitely rooting for murder. Rarely do you side with the killer more than you do in this film. Even aside from the infamous ending, it’s an incredible film, and it’s really due to the characters, who are not only exceptionally performed (particularly by Felissa Rose as Angela), but are just so well-crafted and developed, and above all else, extremely distinct.

Speaking of distinct, this movie’s ending will blow your fucking mind. It’s shocking in concept, and even more shocking in execution. The imagery of it is haunting and strange and absolutely brilliant, and it will never be forgotten.

Sleepaway Camp is a masterpiece. It’s a perfect horror film, and certainly one of the most unique, and I infinitely love it. One of my favorite movies of all time.

~11/2002: VHS
04/27/07: DVD
05/06/07: DVD
06/04/11: 35mm
05/30/14: 35mm

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