There’s a lot of ground to cover with the Sleepaway Camp series, but I’m going to focus on the first movie, because it’s obviously the best one. This is an early ’80s-kids-getting-killed-at-summer-camp movie, and it’s fairly decent for what it is… but then you get to the end, and the movie becomes somewhat legendary.
In fact, I don’t even want to write about it at all, I just want to post a big picture of the killer and leave it at that, but if you haven’t seen Sleepaway Camp, the big reveal is bolstered by having watched everything that comes before it. Though you could easily look it up and view it out of context, I’d recommend against it. Just watch the movie, the payoff is there.
One summer, young Angela and Peter are out on the lake with their dad and his gay lover, Lenny, when tragedy strikes. Eight years later, Angela is living with her lunatic aunt and cousin Ricky, and the two of them are sent to Camp Arawak. Angela is pretty introverted, and the other kids bully her. Other stuff happens, and the camp really sucks until people start dying, then it becomes awesome. Despite people missing or being found dead, the camp never closes.
Then, it ends and it’s great. If you only watch one Sleepaway Camp movie, make it the original. There’s Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers and Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland, directed by a different guy, and with Angela played by Bruce Springsteen’s sister, Pamela. These two look like they were filmed back to back, and aren’t nearly as dark as the original, but they can be worth watching in the right setting.
Sleepaway Camp IV: The Survivor is directed by yet another guy, but I’ve never seen it. The original director, Robert Hiltzik, made a real sequel (ignoring the previous three), called Return to Sleepaway Camp, picking up where the first movie ended. I’ve also never seen this one, but I’m going to look into it. Hiltzik is apparently working on a conclusion to his trilogy called Sleepaway Camp Reunion, while the guy who directed Sleepaway Camp II and III wrote a script for Sleepaway Camp: Berserk, but who cares?
Did you get all of that?
Basically, just watch Sleepaway Camp. MAYBE watch Sleepaway Camp II and III, if you’re in the mood for goofy camp slasher movies you haven’t seen before. And then there’s Return to Sleepaway Camp and Sleepaway Camp Reunion, which are part of an authentic Sleepaway Camp trilogy because the series creator made them.
Get it on Amazon.