The strangeness lies not so much in a divergence from the slasher film genre, but in the varied and more summer camp appropriate age of the characters. Most of these films have characters of the 18 and older variety, mostly so they can include nudity (a genre staple), but Sleepaway Camp is populated by the 12-to-14 year old set. Therefore very little in the way of mature themes, and I believe the only nudity is fully prosthetic (more on that later).
Note: I am not overly sensitive to announcing spoilers, particularly from a 30 year old film, but as I had never seen this one, and it has a rather shocking ending, if you do not want to know the end I will sum up: you like '80s slasher films? Get this one. Stop reading now, if you want. Also, don't look for the movie on Tumblr, as the ending is copiously displayed.
For the rest of you, here goes.
Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten) and his cousin Angela (Felissa Rose) are leaving for summer camp, being seen off by the, let's say "quirky", Aunt Martha (Desiree Gould). This is Angela's first time at camp, though Ricky (who is a bit of a dick, but protective of his cousin) is an old pro. They soon run into Ricky's pal, Paul (Christopher Collet), and old flame who has since out grown him, Judy (Karen Fields). Judy, in many ways, is the highlight of the film. Fields' acting is superficially bad, but when you observe her it is as though director Hiltzik said "play it like Joan Crawford in a high school drama adaptation of a telenovela," and it works. Judy is smarmy and obnoxious, playing way over-the-top which juxtaposes nicely with the mostly silent Angela.
|Karen Fields as "Judy"|
Soon, th obligatory killing starts. That's why we're here, right? It seems that everyone who wrongs Angela, from the super-pervy head cook, to the shirtless teen douchebag. They killings are not of the typical hatchet and/or machete type, but tend to be more of the Doctor Phibes variety; the cook is killed by being boiled by his corn pot water, and the shirtless douchebag is killed by bees.
Meanwhile, Angela and Paul are becoming an item, which infuriates Judy and her crony, Meg. They decide to make life hell for Angela, and pay the price. Cousin Ricky is considered a suspect, as his protection of Angela is verbal and public. The camp owner takes out some aggravation on Ricky, which invites Angela's wrath.
In the end, we discover Angela's secret. She has been taunted by Judy for not showering with the other girls, and when she is finally comfortable with Paul, she decides to go skinny dipping with him. We can assume that Paul is shocked by her secret, as he soon winds up dead, a naked,
I found this to be a great little film. It is more interesting than many of its contemporaries. The only problem I had was in hating almost every character, even if you were not supposed to. For me, it is one where you are constantly saying "I hope he's the next one," even cousin Ricky who comes off as a complete asshole and bully in many ways. Definitely worth watching, and as is often the case, this is the best of the three films. Those reviews coming tomorrow and Thursday.