"Sleepaway Camp" A Fun 80s Horror Shocker!


After Friday the 13th redefined the horror genre in 1980, it set off a load of imitator’s. Sleepaway Camp was made in 1983 and is the best of these. Sleepaway has also spawned several sequels with varying degrees of quality. The story is quite simple; it involves a mysterious killer in a summer camp (Camp Arawak). Unlike the “Friday” movies, these kids are only 12-year-olds and probably could not be made in today’s prudish, politically correct society.

Camp Arawak is very reminiscent of real 80’s summer camps. The kids are free of parental supervision and totally unrestrained to do whatever they want. The counselors are young twenty something’s who really do care for the kids and take their jobs somewhat seriously. Our main character is a painfully shy and withdrawn girl named Angela. He dad and sister died in a boating accident when she was little. One summer her crazy aunt Martha sends her and her cousin Ricky to Camp Arawak. Being an outsider Angela is mercilessly teased and picked on by the other girls, especially the popular girl Judy. Ricky and the boys all have crushes on Judy, mainly because she has boobs. The story takes an honest and true to life perspective of what it’s to be a twelve-year-old boy. Ricky does his best to protect his cousin from her tormentors but he has his own agenda. Angela eventually becomes friends with Paul, a nice kid who really wants to be her friend and maybe more. The supporting characters from the other kids to the counselors are all very 80’s and are very “New York”. The hair, the fashions, and some of the dialogue is quite laughable but also very endearing. It is very honest about what really goes on at summer camps, except with the murders.

As people start dying off in pretty creative ways, the suspects start to mount up and the camp owner wants to keep the news private. But when the murders continue and people start freaking out they all go into survival mode. There is a mega shock ending on par with The Sixth Sense that really made this movie a horror hit. One of the reasons this movie was so good is that the characters act like real people and we really care about them as the viewer. This is something that the horror genre has lost in recent years. Surprisingly there was little to no blood in Sleepaway which is also another testament to its unique appeal.