Sunday, September 18, 2005

Overrated Horror Movie No. 19
'Sleepaway Camp'

I like horror movies as much as the next guy, maybe not as much as the guy next to him wearing the Japanese 'Evil Dead' shirt, but, yes, I like 'em. However, I have been frequently snake bitten by the overrated horror bug. These films are usually not known by most mainstream moviegoers, but have received considerable acclaim by the guy you don't know who sits next to you at 'Revenge of the Sith,' or your the guy in your dorm who organizes 'Friday the 13th' marathons and ends up being the only one watching them. They point to these movies as one of their all-time favorites and are shocked that you have not seen them. More often than not, these horror flicks prove to be slightly more entertaining than the good episodes of 'Saved by the Bell: The College Years.'

The most egregious example of this is Last House on the Left, a movie so disappointing and unworthy of any praise that I cannot even go into detail about it in this sentence (it deserves a post unto itself), but the most recent offender is Sleepaway Camp, which I had the displeasure of seeing last night. Hailed by its legions of fans as one of the camper slasher genre's best, and lauded by even more for its 'surprise' ending, 'Camp' apparently has enough interest in it to warrant the Sleepaway Camp Survival Kit, a boxed set that includes all three movies and even a Sleepaway Camp Diary!

The following words in this post will contain massive spoilers about 'Sleepaway Camp,' and I have no regret doing so because I feel that this is a public service message so that no other unfortunate souls will voluntarily waste 90 minutes of their life watching this mess.

So if you actually want to wade through the first putrid 89 minutes and truly be 'surprised' by the ending, do not read beyond this line.

'Sleepaway Camp' begins with two young kids involved in a terrible water skiing accident, resulting in their father's death. Fast forward 8 years and the two kids, Ricky and Angela, are off to spend the summer at Camp Arawak. Ricky is your normal 13-year-old boy, while Angela does not speak and will not even acknowledge someone is talking to her. This is all well and good until a cook at the camp tries to show her some home cooking in the walk-in refrigerator. After said incident, said cook is bowled over by a wave of boiling water.

More 'accidents' like this occur, usually after someone slights our lovely Angela. A boy is drowned, another boy is stung to death by bees while locked in a bathroom stall. Meanwhile, Angela is still not talking, until a friendly boy starts paying attention to her. They hold hands and kiss, but when the boyfriend wants any more action, the party's over (he'll find out why soon enough). As campers and counselors are killed off, we have people saying "oh it's just you" or "what do you want?" when the killer approaches them, building up suspense for the unmasking of the murderer.

It's completely obvious to anyone watching that the killer is Angela, and here's the twist:


You sure?

Here goes:

Angela is . . . A BOY!!

Yep, that's it. Seems that in the water skiing accident, angela somehow had her scalp torn off or something, so when she went to live with her aunt, she made him into a her. This is hardly a surprise either, since she doesn't want to be touched and doesn't shower with the other girls. But what makes this yawn-inducing 'surprise' ending even worse is how it is presented:

We see Angela stroking the face of her boyfriend, counselors run to her, we see that the boyfriend is just a head, and Angela stands up, naked, with blood covering his/her chest and starts making noises akin to a slighted mother bear. Close up, fade to credits.

Okay, so she's a boy, but unlike any good movie with a surprise ending, this doesn't change anything with the rest of the movie. All this explains is why Angela wouldn't let her boyfriend touch her, and I guess why she felt the need to kill everyone. The rest of the movie is completely forgettable as there is no suspense, humor or any remarkable characters.

So now you're probably wondering how they could make a sequel (two sequels!) to this trash. Well, Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers, puts Bruce Springsteen's little sister (no joke) in the role of Angela, and is largely known for having one of the worst posters imaginable (Ha! Look she's going back to camp and is taking Jason's mask, Freddie's glove and a chainsaw!) Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland gives us more Pamela Springsteen, this time at an inner city camp, looking for more blood. The boxed set even includes footage from the fourth installment, 'The Survivor,' which was never finished. Gee, how could that have happened?

1 comment:

Mike Sheffler said...

That's ... bizarre. So, does that mean that the main character in each movie is gender-confused? That seems like a ... difficult preise from which to construct a series. And why the bear noises?

I must admit that I want to see Sleepaway Camp a lot more now than I did about five minutes ago.