Sleepaway Camp (1983)

sleepaway camp poster 1983 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 7/10

Great twist ending

Poor acting

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Sleepaway Camp

Studio:  American Eagle Films

Genre(s):  Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  November 18, 1983

MPAA Rating:  R

sleepaway camp aunt martha angela desiree gould felissa rose

Aunt Martha…you make me feel normal

A horrible boating accident leaves Angela (Felissa Rose) an orphan at a young age. Raised by her eccentric Aunt Martha (Desiree Gould) with her cousin Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten), Angela and Ricky are sent off to Camp Arawak for the summer. Angela finds her introverted nature makes her a target of the other campers and that she has trouble fitting in. Angela gets a boyfriend in Paul (Christopher Collet), but when campers start to die could Angela really be the killer?

Directed by Robert Hiltzik, Sleepaway Camp is a slasher-horror mystery.  The film was the first in a series of films and was a surprise hit at the box office.  The movie gained a cult following and is known for its shocking ending.

I did not know the end of Sleepaway Camp.  I heard it was a “shocker” and that plus “low-budget” make for a great bad horror movie.  Sleepaway Camp succeeds in this aspect, but it could even have been better with some tweaking.

sleepaway camp judy karen fields side ponytail

“Love me…and love my side ponytail”

Sleepaway Camp is just a fun slasher film with everything you’d expect for an ’80s slasher set at a camp (as campy). The kills usually aren’t just simple stabbings, and in general, the film is filled with tons of weirdness. The whole set-up of the camp seems strange and the counselors seem to not have much control (and there is a question on who are the counselors and who are the campers).  I like the part which has the campers randomly having a water balloon fight on the roof of a cabin, and pervy cook that everyone just laughs off when he plots to molest the girls…the ’80s were fun.  Also, killings start happening at the camp, and a game of Capture the Flag is set up which sets everyone off on their own…once again good planning.

The acting throughout the movie is pretty bad but some of it feels intentional and once again in the range of campy performances.  Felissa Rose as Angela is good in her strange behavior, and the shots of her just staring and not responding when people are talking to her are almost humorous (and happen a lot).  All the actors seem to just be reading the lines, but despite that, it is still fun.  What’s better than a snotty “hot” girl Judy (played by Karen Fields who is apparently always standing about ten feet from Angela) and her side-pony tail being completely bitchy and overly promiscuous for her age?  Actually, everyone at the camp is a complete jerk, but Judy seems to at least be honest about it.  Ok, sometimes the kids just come off as creepy…and then there is Aunt Martha played by Desiree Gould who seems to be acting in a different movie than everyone else.

sleepaway camp twist ending angela felissa rose

Did someone say we’re having taco salad for dinner!!!

******Spoiler Alert****** You can’t talk about Sleepaway Camp without talking about its ending. The movie weakly questions if someone other than the complete weirdo Angela could be the killer…but of course, she is.  The counselors go looking for her and find her with the decapitated body of Paul who she permitted to see her naked.  She then stands-up with a completely freaky face and reveals she’s really a boy.  Turns Aunt Martha actually decided to raise Peter (who survived the boating accident) as a girl.  It is a weird and totally out there twist.

Sleepaway Camp definitely should be sought out for fans of ’80s horror and in particular slasher flicks.  It is a classic and quite fun.  Sleepaway Camp was followed by a sequel with Bruce Springsteen’s sister Pamela Springsteen taking the reins as Angela in Sleepaway Camp II:  Unhappy Campers in 1988.


Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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