Horror Movie Cult Classic: Sleepaway Camp
I Love Summer Camp
Written and directed by Robert Hiltzik, Sleepaway Camp tells the story of Angela, whose family was tragically killed in a boating accident and she goes to live with her crazy Aunt Martha (Desiree Gould) and her cousin Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten). Angela and Ricky are sent away to summer camp, and once they arrive, people start dropping like flies in the most peculiar ways. The movie was released in November 1983 and made $430,000 its opening weekend. Since then, it has become a cult classic for horror movie lovers and has spawned several sequels.
It's Just My Opinion
This is a hilariously bad/weird movie—and I mean that in the most loving way. While Angela, played by Felissa Rose, doesn’t really talk and clearly there’s something is a little off about her, you still root for her. You think she may be a complete psycho, but she comes across as an oddly empathetic psycho. On the flip side, Aunt Martha does not have much screen time, but is extremely over-the-top for no apparent reason. She is squawkingly overbearing and extraordinarily overly dramatic. Since this is a horror movie, I was seriously hoping she would get thrown into the campfire and unknowingly served to the campers for dinner. SPOILER ALERT: That doesn’t happen. Sigh.
One of my favorite things about the movie is the outfits worn by both the campers and the counselors. They are wildly inappropriate for a youth camp, and the shorts make Daisy Duke look like a nun. It was the early ‘80s, so short-shorts and midriffs ruled. It’s one of the beautiful horror movie clichés—if you attend camp, you’re probably up to no good. Obviously, the witchy girl named Meg (Katherine Kamhi) is absolutely amazing as she goes around condescendingly spelling her name M-E-G to everyone she encounters. I can relate, so that’s probably just my own <biased> opinion.
Sleepaway Camp has plenty of plot twists, clichés, and a couple of creative, albeit inexplicable, death scenes that provide plenty of entertainment. Not to mention the fact that it’s a Friday the 13th knock-off, but I love those crazy Voorhees so that doesn’t bother me at all. This is a great movie choice if you love old-school, so-bad-it’s-good horror movies.
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Interestingly, Robert Hiltzik has made an entire career out of the Sleepaway Camp franchise. He wrote six reiterations including the original, Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988), and Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989), and Return to Sleepaway Camp (2008). According to the Internet Movie Database, when Hiltzik is not creating a world of camp terrors, he’s employed as a lawyer.
All Grown Up
All About Angela
Felissa Rose, who played Angela, took 10 years off of screen acting after Sleepaway Camp to do plays and to attend New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has acted steadily since 2000 in several low-budget horror feature and short films, including Robert Hiltzik’s Grandma’s Secret Recipe (2002) and Return to Sleepaway Camp.