on September 6, 2007
[PLEASE NOTE: This 2007 review was posted to, and concerns, the Legacy Entertainment edition DVD as compared to the Anchor Bay edition DVD, both of which are out-of-print. Amazon often places all reviews under the same title, despite which release page the review was originally posted. This does not contain a detailed review of the Blu-ray/DVD edition of Sleepaway Camp, released on 27 May, 2014. Though I have yet to do a full frame-by-frame comparison of that newest release, it appears to include the complete, remastered edition of this film in widescreen.]
The Legacy Entertainment (VHS generation loss affected) 1.33:1 ratio edition DVD is otherwise uncut (if not widescreen), unlike the Starz/Anchor Bay (cleanly remastered) 1.85:1 ratio edition DVD of which most customers purchase.
This is classic low-budget horror with the most memorable ending of any such film in its genre, whether you care for it or not. Instead of elaborating on my opinion of the film, I thought some would be interested in knowing what makes the Legacy Entertainment edition DVD uncut.
In the Anchor Bay (abbreviated as AB) edition, five scenes are missing. Those scenes can be found in the Legacy Entertainment (abbreviated as LE) edition. The total cut is only 23 seconds, but they are interesting if not odd omissions. The cuts are as follows:
1. The 'skinny dipping' scene where the boys are shown running and jumping in to the water is cut by seven (7) seconds. The uncut LE version shows them naked from behind as they were running.
2. The first death scene of the boy found under the overturned boat is cut by six (6) seconds. The AB version of this scene has two (2) shots of the boy with the snake, while the LE version has four (4) shots of the boy. The first (boy only) and fourth (boy with snake almost completely out of mouth) shots are identical in both versions. In the uncut LE version, you see the snake as it first exits the mouth as well as an additional shot.
3. The 'water-balloon attack' scene was cut by four (4) seconds. In the uncut LE version, there is a shot of the boys making obscene gestures towards Angela after she is helped up from the ground.
4. During the 'kissing' scene in the woods, Judy's response ["Same to you"] following Ricky's middle finger gesture, is cut for no apparent reason.
5. In the strangest and most complicated cut, a mere two (2) seconds were cut and altered from the shot of Mel finding Meg dead in the shower. In the uncut LE version, Mel didn't only say "He did it" after finding her, he also said "to get back at me." Furthermore, he twice says "I had him", but one was cut in the AB version. And finally, the shot of Meg on the floor is one second longer in the uncut LE version.
In total, only 23 seconds were cut from the seemingly-complete Legacy Entertainment version. However, there are two notable differences not mentioned above. One regards the credits, which begin rolling two seconds sooner in the LE version. The other is very interesting and concerns the film as a whole.
The AB version purports to be fully widescreen. This is not truly the case. As another poster noted, the widescreen presentation is cut from the full film aspect [matte] ratio of 1.37:1. Thus, the viewer is losing a large portion of every frame by viewing the 1.85:1 version. If you carefully watch the night scene in which Angela is seated on the beach, back turned, you will notice that the image from left to right in both versions (AB & LE) are in sync. This should not be the case. Oddly, the frames on the left and right sides are equal on both versions only during this scene.
A motion picture cut in widescreen format should generally show more to the left and right than a pan & scan TV edit. The widescreen (AB) edition of this film forces the top and bottom to be trimmed. Simply put, if you watch the AB widescreen version, you are not only missing out on 23 seconds of film time, you are seeing only a portion of the more complete filmed image. Unfortunately, this means DVD viewers would have to sit through a worse quality print from Legacy in order to view this film in its complete form. Hopefully, the day will soon come when a complete, uncut, remastered, and full aspect ratio version of this film will be released.**
This information would likely only interest videophiles, but if you have any strong interest in this motion picture, you may want to know these details. If not long-winded, I hope some will find this information helpful.
**- 27 May, 2014
on April 22, 2000
Sleepaway Camp is first and foremost, another summer camp slasher film. A very popular slasher subgenre originated with the 1980 classic Friday the 13th. Angela and Ricky are young teenagers off to camp Arawak for the summer, Ricky the likable popular type, and Angela, the quiet and 'different' type. When all kinds of scuzzy camp regulars begin to give Angela a hard time, they start dying rather brutally...much to the dismay of the camp's burnt out owner Mel (Mike Kellin). Sleepaway Camp is a slasher film, however, it goes a bit deeper than that, what gives Sleepaway Camp its distinction, is the bizarre homosexual themes running throughout the film. Why they are there are anybody's guess,but from the strange transvestite (?) Aunt Martha, to Angela's gay father, the truly shocking and disturbing final shot and more, Sleepaway Camp is sick, grisily, twisted, yet always fascinating. Of course, its not always great, many scenes in this film are just laughable, like the melodramatic boating accident at the film's start, or the character that wears a shirt with her name on it, and even the scenes with Chef Artie, the local camp sleazeball. Sleepaway Camp however, always manages to be charming, despite its warped themes and lurid subject matter, this one certainly isn't for everybody, but those with a taste for something not quite the norm will find much to savor here with Sleepaway Camp, a truly strange film that stands in a tired subgenre, but stands out as a unique achievement-even if partially a fluke.
on July 10, 2005
This is the fully uncut version of the film! The Anchor Bay dvd has a few slight cuts to some of the death scenes. The picture and sound on this version are that of an old vhs but still watchable. If you have the box set get this one too just so you can see what has been cut from the Anchor Bay version. You cant beat a dvd for $5!
Sleepaway Camp is, for me, a horror classic. Not so much for the standard scares and chills aspects, but just becausr Sleepaway Camp has a special place in my heart as a fond memory of good old-fashioned 80s cheese-horror-comedy.
That said, the final 60 seconds contain one of the freakiest, genuinely creepy endings and still images in all horror. Frankly, I find it creepier than Jack sitting in the snow at the end of The Shining.
If youre a horror fan, you've gotta set some time aside one night to catch this one!
on August 15, 2008
Who knew that there was a good 80's slasher film that I somehow over looked. I really do miss that genre of movies, and I was ecstatic to see in all the pile of mixed baggage there was one that came out on top. Even though this had a lot of the same qualities as all of the other slasher films ( Friday The 13th in particular) Sleepaway Camp still brings you enough originality and twists to make it an instant classic.
After surviving a horrific accident 8 years prior Angela is forced to live with her crazy Aunt Martha and cousin Ricki. Ricki and Angela are persuaded by Angelas aunt to go on a vacation at camp Arawak. Angela is a very quiet girl that makes all of the other teenagers at the camp uncomfortable, which in return makes her the object of everyones taunting. Ricki tries to stick up for his cousin, but it seems he is always too late to do anything helpful. After a few people end up dying the individuals at Camp Arawak are all suspects and victims at the same time.
Never did the film become dull nor was it over the top exciting edge of your seat thrills. The film is not overly gory, but does not take away from the greatness. There is some descent acting, and if you are familiar with slasher movies you will understand the rareness of good acting in that genre. I know there are a lot of other reviewers that have raved about the very twisted ending, I agree with all of them. I will admit that the finale is one of the very top finales in a horror movie ever. It had me sleeping with my lights on that evening, and like I stated in a another review, I am a very hard person to scare. The last image of this cinematic adventure will be forever implanted in my brain. If you go into this film blind you will be nothing less of blown away, just by the ending alone.
on July 19, 2014
This may be the freakiest of all the 80's slasher films. The ending is notorious, for good reason, but the entire film has a disturbing aura about it. All the young men walking around in skin tight short shorts. Or the pretty girl who prefers the company of this old seedy looking guy, when there's a handsome young man she COULD have had(and no, the old guy is by no means rich......she just seems to like him better.......which is hard to figure, since he's not exactly John Forsythe).Or the fry cook who openly refers to his predeliction for children.(yes, his pedophilia seems to be known and ACCEPTED by his coworkers). It's almost as if they perceive it the way you or I might if a peer at work was constantly late, or didn't pitch in at the office Christmas party, or some other more-or-less harmless idiosynchrasy. As opposed to what most people seem to regard as the most heinous offense known to man.......
Then there's the ending.........This takes the freakiness to another level, ALTOGETHER.
I have always loved movies where nice people retaliate in brutal fashion against not-so-nice people. Sure, I admire forgiveness, and turning the other cheek......but there's no question, revenge makes for a better movie. Carrie is one of my all-time favorites. Now, don't get too carried away.......Sleepaway Camp is no Carrie. But it does set up a revenge premise, and carries it out reasonably well.
With a twist, of course, which feeds in to the classic finale of the movie.
I love slasher movies, and 99% of the great ones were made during the 80's. Sleepaway Camp manages to stand out, largely for its in-your-face perversity. But aside from that, it's pretty standard fare. The protagonist is a shy, cute, sweet girl. Kind of awkward and cryptic, but seemingly harmless. She gets harassed and bullied, and the evil-doers begin to suffer extremely unpleasant fates.
They let the obvious questions surface, and simmer.......Is she taking revenge? Is someone taking vengeance on her behalf? Or is the violence unrelated to her situation, altogether?
Most of the cast don't make any particular impression on me. But Felissa Rose is priceless. Her mere presense elevates the film. There are times when she can seem so menacing, and mysterious. Other times, she comes across as so forlorn and vulnerable.(her body language conveys an epic lack of enthusiasm for summer camp). Then, out of the blue, she manifests this quirky, adorable charm.('Burt Reynolds!') Those moments really stand out in such a dark, perverse movie.
This charm, and underlying warmth, are one other factor that remind me of Carrie. You get a little brief insight into what this kid might have been if so many people had not been so cruel and abusive towards her.
The final scene is the stuff of legend. It is nightmarish, and utterly unforgettable. It is one of those cinematic moments I wish I could go back and see again for the very first time.
For some reason, the sequels to this film all went the direction of silly black comedy. But this one adopted a tone that was dark, twisted, violent......and they built upon that tone and maintained it throughout, culminating in one of the most unforgettable finales in movie history.
on June 7, 2014
This 1983 horror film stars Felissa Rose and Jonathan Tiersten.
A quiet girl and her cousin are sent to summer camp where a
mysterious killer lurks about. This is a good 80's slasher flick
that followed in the footsteps of others like "Friday the 13th"
featuring a good cast & unforgettable ending. This set features
the uncut version of the film with nice picture and sound plus
neat extras. I recommend this for your horror collection.
on May 2, 2014
Scream Factory brings a true slasher film gem to Blu-ray for fans to enjoy in high-definition. 1983's "Sleepaway Camp" has everything one could want in a genre piece and more. Not only does the movie have one of the best surprise endings ever conceived, it also does a better job than most at establishing characters you can truly identify with emotionally.
After a tragic boating accident, Angela is taken in by her kooky Aunt Martha and Cousin Ricky. Angela and Ricky are sent to summer camp to enjoy themselves and make new friends. Not long after arriving, a series of accidents begin occurring. Are they all mishaps or has someone returned to the camp looking for some type of retribution?
Writer / Director Robert Hiltzik has fashioned one of the finest examples of the slasher genre with "Sleepaway Camp." All the right ingredients are here. There's suspense, mystery, gore, and characters you actually feel sorry for. Don't get me wrong. You also want to see several of them die as well.
The "Sleepaway Camp" Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack Collector's Edition is presented in 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.78:1). The Blu-ray was made from a new 2K scan of the original camera negative. The picture isn't perfect by any means, but it's superior in comparison to VHS copies of the film.
A DTS-HD Master Audio Mono mix assaults your ears with every beautifully over-exaggerated scream of a victim. Edward Bilous's musical score perfectly enhances all the action and violence occurring onscreen. All the environmental sounds you could expect to hear at camp blare out at the audience.
Scream Factory packs the "Sleepaway Camp" Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack Collector's Edition with loads of bonus material. Actors Felissa Rose and Jonathan Tierston provide new commentary for the movie. The original commentary with Director/Writer Robert Hiltzik, Felissa Rose, and Webmaster Jeff Hayes is found, too. It also features new interviews with the cast and crew, a scrapbook, Jeff Hayes' short film entitled "Judy," a theatrical trailer, and more.
The "Sleepaway Camp" Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack Collector's Edition is unrated and contains bloody graphic violence, language, adult situations, and nudity. Let's just say a lot of bloodshed takes place onscreen. A shocking scene at the end of the movie will leave a visual impression on the viewer they'll never forget.
I can't think of a more perfect film to sit next to your copies of "Friday the 13th" and "The Burning" on your shelves. The new Blu-ray edition of "Sleepaway Camp" is an essential piece of slasher and horror genre history. If reflected upon through the mind of someone watching it in 1983, you begin to realize just how pioneering its surprise ending was.
on June 21, 2014
I received and watched SleepAway Camp on Blu Ray a few weeks ago and the picture quality is really good...not fantastic, but not bad either. Some scenes look crystal clear while other shots look somewhat grainy....but not to the point where it looks terrible, it just doesn't look as great as current movies on Blu Ray. While that is understandable because this is a movie from 1983, they did a 2K scan of the film (which I can't comment on since I do not have a 2K resolution Television....yet, lol.) But overall the picture quality is very good and the sound is pretty good too. There is also 2 commentary tracks which are very interesting and I enjoyed listening to it. There is also a short documentary on the film that was great to see as well. So, if you are a fan of SleepAway Camp, I don't think you will be disappointed in this Blu Ray.
Now as far as the movie itself, I won't spoil anything as I'm sure there are still people out there who haven't seen it. But when I first rented SleepAway Camp from my local video store way back in 1987...my first impression was "This movie is so bad!" I thought the acting was bad, I thought the location was bad, and since I was a diehard Friday The 13th fan I was comparing this movie to the Friday the 13th's. And in doing so, I thought that SleepAway Camp was complete garbage compared to some of the bigger budget horror films. However.....I thought that Felissa Rose (the same age as me) was so darn pretty that I watched the movie again just to see more of her again. Those big beautiful eyes and that long dark hair and that pretty face, I just couldn't get enough of her. And so for the same reason, I watched SleepAway Camp a 3rd time, and a 4th time, and by then the movie had grown on me, and suddenly I loved it! Now 27 years later, it is one of my favorite horror films and is a classic in it's own. Last year while visiting family in upstate NY, I went to Summit Lake. The very place where SleepAway Camp was filmed.....and I made a video of the area. I have it on Youtube for any fans who would like to check it out. So here is the link: http://youtu.be/Mz-AYRtvFgQ
All of the cabins have been torn down, but the place still has that look and feel to it from the movie, and it was simply awesome just to be there. So if you've never seen SleepAway Camp, then give a try. Watch it late at night when it's dark and don't expect any academy award winning performances, but the film is very enjoyable for any horror fan. Now I hope SleepAway Camp 2 and 3 will be released on Blu Ray as well, that would be sweet.
"Sleepaway Camp" qualifies as one of those oddball entries in the horror genre, a movie so offbeat and sleazy in its implications that it isn't any wonder that it found its way to DVD quite rapidly. Fully deserving of its cult status, this low budget film about, surprise, a summer camp and the bloody shenanigans wreaked within its confines by a deranged killer ranks as one of the movies you simply must watch (after you have seen it) with someone unfamiliar with its sordid secrets. Regrettably, at some point a few years ago I accidentally stumbled over a major spoiler on one of those Internet review sites and ruined my experience when I finally sat down to watch the film. Don't worry, I won't spoil this gem for you, but you may want to take note of my experience and become very selective about the various synopses you may read about this picture. "Sleepaway Camp" is well worth watching, although your initial impressions about Angela and the gang might give you a certain initial degree of pause. I can't speak for the sequels based on the original film as I haven't seen any of them, but I cannot imagine they are better in any significant way than this one.
"Sleepaway Camp" opens with a tragedy as a family-two small children and their two dads (!)-sail around a lake on a little boat. When a careless gang of people with a speedboat runs over this family's vessel, only one of the children survives the catastrophe. Flash forward a few years to a new family getting ready to send the youngsters away to summer camp. Aunt Martha, a character played so over the top that her voice would melt steel, coos over her son Ricky and his cousin Angela. She wishes them the best and prepares to send them to a camp that very quickly resembles the type of place the Marquis De Sade might run if he was still alive. Called Camp Arawak, the place simmers with teenage intrigues, seething jealousies, and homoerotic situations. The hormones flow like water throughout the camp as various individuals jockey for power over other people. At the bottom of the social totem pole sits the wretched Angela, a rail thin, mousy haired young lady with eyes the size of saucers. Angela rarely talks to anyone, provoking outraged responses to her presence among her counselors and fellow campers. She finally does meet a nice boy with whom she willingly talks, but for the most part, she bears silent witness to the increasingly bizarre behavior occurring in camp.
Ricky, about the only normal guy at Arawak, takes Angela under his wing at camp, sticking up for her when needed and introducing her around to the various psychotics masquerading as counselors and fellow campers. Of course, Ricky has his own problems: his camp girlfriend from last year underwent a significant growth spurt during the intervening months and now only has eyes for older, better developed guys. Then there are the obnoxious older campers and sadistic counselors, several of whom decide to launch a vendetta against Ricky and his cousin. The quarrels between Ricky and several specific individuals become so well known around camp that when the murders start happening, and the sauce begins to flow, the head counselor seriously considers Ricky as the primary suspect in the crimes. The various killings aren't all that impressive to serious gore fans, with the exception of the cook who takes a dip in a huge pot of boiling hot water, but at least these moderately disturbing crimes lead up to a conclusion that explodes across your consciousness with the force of a nuclear bomb. The last scenes of "Sleepaway Camp" provide the most important reason you should watch this movie, but not the only one. This picture often surprises with its daring portrayals of the darker side of human nature. Controversial issues such as child molestation appear regularly as plot points, making this movie one of the seedier slasher films around.
The DVD of "Sleepaway Camp" rises above your average schlock horror film release by including a commentary track with director Robert Hiltzik, Felissa Rose (the actress who played the Angela character), and moderator Jeff Hayes. Obviously, those involved with the making of the movie realized how memorable of an experience they created. If the commentary isn't enough for you, you also get a trailer and picture quality that is quite good for a film of this age and budget. Anyway, give this morbid little piece of trash cinema a whirl in your DVD player; it may not rank as the best film ever made, but it will sure throw you for a loop once or twice. Boy, I am I glad I never went to summer camp!