Mini Impressions: Sleepaway Camp


Sleepaway Camp has something of a cult following in the horror community. It follows a girl and her cousin to camp over the summer. It is most noted for having one of the most surprising and shocking twist endings, though in hindsight it’s not that much of a shock (I also guessed it the first time I watched, but mostly on a whim).

Angela is a strange girl, after losing her family in a boating accident she has almost completely shut down. She doesn’t get along very well at the camp and is constantly harassed and picked on. Slowly yet surely many of the people that have been the worst to her get picked off. The movie attempts to red herring the killer a bit, but you can figure it out fairly quickly.

Sleepaway Camp for all its cult status is extremely problematic by today’s standards, and I would argue even by 80s standards. It doesn’t look kindly on gay people or other related things. It is also more than a little racist. Still strip away that, and you are left with Slasher Trash… sadly emphasis on trash. This is not a good movie. It suffers significantly in the acting department, and the story and pacing leave a lot to be desired.

Yet, even with saying that I don’t want to insult the movie too much. There is something strangely awesome about this movie. I don’t know if it’s the creative kills or the fact that the movie tries very little to hide what is happening and instead just embraces the messed up nature? I can’t pinpoint why exactly this movie works, mostly because it doesn’t, yet I get why so many horror fans sort of love it. I am among the horror fans that for some strange unexplained reason am drawn to this film.

It’s not my favorite horror movie, it’s not even my favorite “so bad it’s good” horror movie, it is one that I have an odd appreciation for. I will also say that even if the twist at the end doesn’t get you the horrific look and noises will.

I wouldn’t recommend Sleepaway Camp to anybody that is not the most genre nut of genre nuts, and most of you have already seen it. I could go on and on about why exactly it is we like this problematic mess of a movie, but in the end, there is just something entertaining about it, and that’s enough for me. If you are a horror fan and you’ve missed this one give it a go. Go in with low expectations, but still, you might have fun.

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