This film's reputation as a cult classic has withstood, if only thanks to it's incredibly brief twist-ending. Now, that's not to say that "Sleepaway Camp" is a completely terrible film, but it's far from being a good one. There's no argument that it's enjoyable as the nonsensical cheese-fest that it is, but many withhold that this is not just a camp-classic, but a great horror film. But save for those final few minutes, there isn't one thing the least bit memorable about the entire endeavor. Rest assured, if not for that infamous scene, this flick would only be remembered by the most committed of retro horror fanatics.
Many of the best films in the 80's slasher boom overcame their lack of originality with creative kills, genuine suspense and creepy atmosphere. "Sleepaway Camp" has none of these things going for it. For the majority of it's runtime, it's a by the numbers summer camp slasher, whose kills are shockingly dull and mostly bloodless. The only noticeable thing happening for much of the time is the surreal characterization. Everyone in the film seems to be completely deranged. There's a pedophile camp cook, a paranoid camp director, who comes to believe that a child is responsible for the killings and attempts to murder him, for no good reason, and an aunt whose shrieking, sing-song performance borders on caricature. Most of the acting is stunted at best, excruciatingly bad at worst, and the entire film is pervaded by a sense of sleaze, but not the fun sort. As I've said, the only, even remotely memorable moment is the ending shot. Those few brief seconds, out of an hour and half long film, are all anyone seems to remember. And that shocking moment will certainly be remembered by anyone that sees it, but it's a testament to how crumby a film it really is, that that is all they seem to recall.
It frankly, irks me that this hammy shlock seems to be more widely remembered than many underrated slashers of it's time period, that contain more suspense, creative bloodshed and atmosphere in their entire run-times than this film does. But nostalgia is one hell of a drug, and horror fans will continue to recommend this film, if only for it's infamous denouement. For anyone expecting a cult-gem, they should be prepared for disappointment.
My Rating: 4/10
My Rating: 4/10