Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sleepaway Camp (1983)

Meg: If she were any quieter, she'd be dead!
After a horrible boating accident kills her family, Angela, a shy and sullen young girl, moves in with her eccentric aunt Martha, alongside her protective cousin Ricky. One summer, Martha sends the kids to Camp Arawak. Soon after their arrival, a series of bizarre and increasingly violent accidents begins to claim the lives of various campers.
Also known as "Nightmare Vacation", the slasher film "Sleepaway Camp" was limited in its releases to various theaters in the US on November 18, 1983.  With a budget of $350,000.00, it beat out its horror competition "Amityville 3-D" by taking in over $430,000.00.  The film would eventually earn over $11 million at the Box Office.
Written and directed by Robert Hiltzik, there weren't any award nominations for "Sleepaway Camp".  What should be noted, however, is that it is considered by many enthusiasts to have one of the most shocking endings among horror films.
There were only a couple of noticeable actors in "Sleepaway Camp" with the supporting role of Mike Kellin who played the camp director, Mel, and also the brief appearance of Robert Earl Jones who played the part of Ben.  If the name Robert Earl Jones sounds familiar, it's probably because he's the father of well-known actor James Earl Jones (Robert also had a role in the Oscar-winning film, "The Sting" starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford). 
From American Eagle Films, the cast in "Sleepaway Camp" were a lot of unknowns.  It starred Felissa Rose as Angela, Johnathan Tiersten as Ricky, Karen Fields as Judy, Christopher Collet as Paul, and Katherine Kamhi as Meg.  For all of them, this film was their debut as they weren't in any feature films before.  Felissa, Johnathan, Christopher, and Katherine would further their acting careers, but this was the one and only production for Karen.
Filmed in Argyle, Fort Edward, and Glens Falls, New York, here's some more behind-the-scenes information you might like to know about what has become a cult classic and the base for a few sequels...
1.  This film wasn't just the debut film for the leading cast.  It was also the first film directed by Robert Hiltzik.  He had no idea that his "Sleepaway Camp" had gained such a devoted following over the years until he was contacted in March 2000 by Sleepawaycampmovies.com's Jeff Hayes who then arranged for him to record a commentary for the Anchor Bay Entertainment DVD.  This film was his first project ever.
2.  Robert Hiltzik dedicated "Sleepaway Camp" to his mother.
3.  Jane Krakowski (she was Cousin Vicki in National Lampoon's "Vacation") was originally cast to play Judy.
4.  Some of the campers seen getting off the busses at the beginning of the film are relatives of the cast and crew.
5.  Rescue workers seen carrying away an injured cook in the movie were actual paramedics from the local town. Their jackets proudly display what squad they belong to.
6.  A shot of dead Judy was cut by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) for being way too grisly.  That's why all you see is the silhouette against the inside cabin wall.
7.  Christopher Collet, who played Paul, had a latex version of his head created for the final scene.  However, someone on the set took the head.  To this day no one has come forward with it.
8.  There were 3 original songs (which were not just orchestrated) used in this movie, but only 1 ever made it out to a soundtrack album.
9.  Only in the US was this film released as "Sleepaway Camp".  In other countries it was released as "Nightmare Vacation".  However, in October 1985 at a video premiere in, then, West Germany, it was released as "Sleepaway Camp".
10.  "Sleepaway Camp" was translated as "Campamento de Verano" in Spain which translated as "Summer Camp".  In France, "Massacre au camp d'ete" ("Sleepaway Summer Camp").  In Hungary, "A halal angyala" ("The Angel of Death").  In Poland, "Uspiony Oboz" ("Dormant Camp").
And now you know.
I was 15 years old when this film came out.  Personally, since I was a closeted gay teen at the time, not only did I appreciate a scary film with characters approximately my own age, but I appreciated that, for once, there was a rated R slasher flick that showed more male skin or nudity than that of the female.
Please enjoy the following original theatrical trailer of "Sleepaway Camp" followed by over 100 picture stills of the characters and film itself as arranged in chronological order following the storyline...

Now the characters...

And now the storyline...










Aunt Martha: Oh, you're going to enjoy living with us so much. Yes, I know you are! As a welcome home present, I bought you such wonderful new clothes. I just hope that Richard doesn't get jealous that I didn't get him anything. Oh, but then, he is such a dear. I'm sure that he won't mind. You see, I've always wanted a little girl. But, of course, when my husband left... Oh, well, that's all water under the bridge, as I always say. Water under the bridge! But it certainly will be a nice little surprise when Richard comes home to find a little girl in the house. Yes, I've always dreamed of a little girl just like you.






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