Sleepaway Camp: Wikis


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Sleepaway Camp
Directed by Robert Hiltzik
Produced by Robert Hiltzik
Jack Grossberg
Jerry Silva
Michele Tatosian
Written by Robert Hiltzik
Marshall Brikman
Starring Mike Kellin
Katherine Kamhi
Paul DeAngelo
Jonathan Tiersten
Felissa Rose
Karen Fields
Christopher Collet
Cinematography Benjamin Davis
David M. Walsh
Editing by Ron Kalish
Ralph Rosenblum
Sharyn Ross
Distributed by American Eagle Films
United Film Distribution
Release date(s) 1983
Running time 88 min.
Country USA
Language English
Budget $350,000
Followed by Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers

Sleepaway Camp is a 1983 cult classic horror movie written and directed by Robert Hiltzik—who also served as executive producer. The film is about teen campers getting killed at a summer camp. The film came at a time when slasher films were in their heyday. The film is widely known for having one of the most shocking endings in cinematic history.



The film opens in the summer of 1975, with a family consisting of John Baker and his two children Angela and Peter Baker out on a lake near a summer camp. After their small boat accidentally flips, John and the children begin to head ashore, where John's lover, Lenny is calling to him. As the family swims, a pair of teenagers pulling a water skier in a motorboat fail to notice them in time and hit them, killing both John and Peter. The surviving Angela is sent to live with her eccentric aunt Dr. Martha Thomas and Martha's son Richard "Ricky" Thomas.

Eight years after John and Peter's deaths, Angela and Ricky are sent to Camp Arawak by Martha. Due to her introverted nature, Angela is ridiculed and bullied, her main tormentors being fellow camper Judy and camp counselor Meg. During lunchtime, Angela, having not eaten for some time, is taken into the kitchen by head counselor Ronnie to see if there is anything in there she would like to eat. Left with the head cook Artie, Angela is taken into a back room by Artie, who intends to molest Angela. Before any harm can come to Angela, Artie is found in the midst of unfastening his pants by Ricky, who flees from the kitchen with Angela after Artie threatens him. After the incident in the pantry, Artie is seriously injured when he is knocked off a chair by an unseen figure while tending to a large pot of boiling water which spills on his face and hands. Artie's injuries are deemed accidental by camp owner Mel Costic, who pays off the rest of his kitchen staff, including Ben to keep the event quiet.

The next day, Ricky, Paul and the rest of the boys in their cabin, including geek Mozart, are playing baseball with Kenny, Mike, Billy and the rest of the boys from their cabin. After Ricky wins the game to the older guys, Kenny talks with Mike on how to get back at Ricky. Later that night in the recreation cabin, Angela is accosted by Kenny and Mike who begin mocking her, prompting Ricky and his friend Paul to get into a fight with the boys which several others join in on, fulfilling their plan on getting back at Ricky. After the brawl is broken up by Gene, Ricky and the rest of the boys involved in the fight leave while Paul stays behind and succeeds in befriending Angela by telling her about misadventures he and Ricky would get into when they were younger. Later, out on the lake, Kenny is drowned, his body being found the next day and his death is also ruled accidental by Mel, despite suspicion from camp employees and the police, especially Frank the Cop. Later that day, Angela is hit in the face with a water balloon by Billy, who is then grounded for the rest of the summer by Mel. After Billy is killed when he is locked in a washroom stall which has a beehive dropped in it, Mel grows suspicious of Ricky, who he believes is killing those who bully Angela.

The relationship between Angela and Paul grows strained when Paul attempts to make out with Angela on the beach, causing Angela to have a flashback to her youth when she and her brother witnessed their father in bed with Lenny. Confused and angered by Angela's rejection of his advances, Paul is easily seduced by Judy, who lures him away from a game of capture the flag, a game assembled by counselor Jeff, and into the woods where the two are found kissing by Angela and Ricky. Guilty about what happened between him and Judy, Paul attempts to explain himself to Angela while on the beach. As Paul talks to Angela, he is shooed away by Judy and Meg, who throw Angela into the water. After being taken out of the lake by lifeguard Hal and having sand flung at her by several small children, a clearly disturbed Angela is comforted by Ricky, who swears revenge on her aggressors. After the affair at the beach, Meg, while preparing for a date with Mel, is murdered with a knife while taking a shower, having her back sliced open.

Meg's disappearance goes largely unnoticed and camp activities go on as usual with a social being held. At the social, Angela is approached by Paul, whom she tells to meet her at the waterfront after the social. Next, six young children, the ones who threw sand at Angela, are taken out to go camping with counselor Eddie, and when two of them ask to go back, Eddie takes the two back to his car and drive back to the camp. But when Eddie comes back, he finds the other four children in their sleeping bags, hacked to bits with Eddie's axe (which was used to cut wood) lying on the ground dripping in blood. Next, Judy, who had decided to skip the social, is killed in her cabin when the murderer shoves a pillow on her face and forces a curling iron some where unknown believed to be the vagina. After the social, the camp is thrown into a panic when Eddie calls them back and tells them about the deaths of the four children. Ricky, who had missed the social due to feeling ill, overhears this news before being attacked by Mel, who had discovered Meg's corpse and blames Ricky for her death. After beating Ricky seemingly to death, Mel stumbles into the camp archery range, where he is shot in the throat with an arrow by the real killer.

As the counselors and the police scour the camp, Angela meets Paul on the beach, where she tells him to undress, which Paul enthusiastically agrees to do. After finding the dead Meg and Mel, as well as the still living Ricky, Ronnie and Susie find Angela nude on the beach, softly singing to herself and clutching a large knife and Paul's severed head in her hands. Angela is revealed to be both the killer and a boy - the thought-to-be-dead Peter. Through flashbacks it is shown that after Martha gained custody of him, she decided to raise Peter as a girl, already having a son and coming to the conclusion that another boy "simply would not do." It's also implied that the children were mentally affected in a very negative way by seeing their father sharing a homosexual embrace with another man. The film ends with "Angela", male genitalia in full view, letting out an animalistic hissing sound.


  • Mike Kellin as Mel Costic
  • Katherine Kamhi as Meg
  • Paul DeAngelo as Ronnie
  • Jonathan Tiersten as Ricky Thomas
  • Felissa Rose as Angela Baker
  • Karen Fields as Judy
  • Christopher Collet as Paul
  • Desiree Gould as Aunt Martha
  • Owen Hughes as Artie
  • Robert Earl Jones as Ben
  • Susan Glaze as Susie
  • Frank Trent Saladino as Gene
  • Rick Edrich as Jeff
  • Allen Breton as Frank the Cop
  • Dan Tursi as John
  • James Paradise as Lenny
  • Tom Van Dell as Mike
  • Loris Sallahain as Billy
  • John E. Dunn as Kenny
  • Willy Kuskin as Mozart
  • Michael C. Mahon as Hal
  • Fred Greene as Eddie

Transgender Criticism

Rose Colored Glasses, a blog that reviews television and film "from a Transsexual perspective," claims many Transgender people have reported the film is empowering but concludes that the film is a negative exploitation of transsexuality. [1] Joelle Ruby Ryan, Ph.D., in her doctoral thesis cites the Sleepaway Camp films as continuing a negative stereotypes of Transgender people as the Transgendered Monster stating "While trans people are frequently murdered in vicious hate crimes, these films perform a reversal of reality by presenting transgender folks as killers. By doing so, they cement fear of gender variance and perpetuate the continued demonization of transgender women." Reel Gender: Examining the Politics of Trans Images in Film and Media


Over the years, the Sleepaway Camp films gained a loyal cult following. In the late 1980s, Michael A. Simpson directed two sequels, Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988) and Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989). In them, Angela (now played by Bruce Springsteen's younger sister, Pamela Springsteen) resurfaces at a nearby summer camp, but this time masquerading as a counselor after a sex change that made her entirely female. Much like at the previous camp, she gleefully tortures and kills everyone upon whom she can get her hands.

Another rogue sequel, Sleepaway Camp IV: The Survivor, directed by Jim Markovic, was partially filmed but never completed. In 2002 the unfinished footage was released and made available as an exclusive fourth disc in Anchor Bay/Starz Entertainment's Sleepaway Camp DVD boxed set.

A new film, Return to Sleepaway Camp, was completed in 2003 and initially struggled to find distribution. It was directed by Robert Hiltzik, the director of the original 1983 film. He decided that this chapter will ignore the story lines of the previous sequels, stating that he wanted to pick up from where the original film ended. According to the digital effects were redone from 2006 to 2008. The film finally found distribution, and was released November 4, 2008, by Magnolia/Magnet Pictures. Review copies of the film had been sent out, and the movie's screener had already been leaked prior to the release.

The purportedly final film in Hiltzik's SC trilogy is also in the making. Its working title is Sleepaway Camp Reunion, distribution has already been arranged via Magnolia Pictures, for DVD with a limited theatrical release planned in 3D.

Michael Simpson, the director of Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers and Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland. recently wrote a script for his series of Sleepaway Camp movies as well, titled Sleepaway Camp: Berserk and is now in its 2nd draft.

Resurrection of the legacy

In the late 1990s, Jeff Hayes and Australian Web master John Klyza brought the fan base of Sleepaway Camp into the open, with the first official Sleepaway Camp Web site. Today, both Klyza and Hayes have their own SC sites, with Hayes running the official Sleepaway Camp and Return to Sleepaway Camp sites and Klyza running the official sequels site. Hayes did audio commentary for the first Sleepaway Camp on DVD, while Klyza provided commentary for Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers and Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland.

References in pop culture

  • Art punk band The Blood Brothers borrowed the title of their song "Meet Me at the Waterfront After the Social" verbatim from a line spoken by Angela.
  • Metal band Frightmare wrote a song about the film, simply titled "Angela."
  • Senses Fail named a song after Angela Baker, titled "Angela Baker and My Obsession With Fire."
  • Robot Chicken aired a sketch about the movie, which included a horrified Robert Hiltzik exclaiming "Oh my god! Someone remembered this movie and wrote a comedy sketch about it!"
  • The band (and movie features) CKY (Camp Kill Yourself) is named in reference to the movie. They also released an EP entitled "Disengage The Simulator EP" in which Angela is on the cover. Also the lead singer Deron Miller is married to the actress who played Angela. They met on the set of Return to Sleepaway Camp.
  • Bill Engvall references Sleepaway Camp in a stand up act, commenting on the warning on curling irons to not insert into any orifice (like Judy's death in the movie)
  • Features songs from the metal band OBSESSION (featuring Mike Vescera) including the title track "Methods of Madness".


In the commentary on the DVD, Hiltzik and Rose tease that perhaps there isn't a sole killer in the movie. In fact, the only real continuity error in the film involves the killing of campers at a tent site far enough away from the main camp that they took a car to get there in the same night that four other people were murdered.

The Anchor Bay DVD is a cut version of the film. The older Media Entertainment and Video Treasures VHSs are fully uncut as well as the Canadian DVD version by Legacy Entertainment, which was produced from an uncut VHS master, and thus is of lower quality than the Anchor Bay DVD release. Even though the Anchor Bay DVD is a cut version, the cuts are only slight. From the official website:

"Writer/Director Robert Hiltzik has told me on many occasions that there are no 'missing scenes' anywhere out there. He says that he 'made the movie per the script' and that is how he makes a movie. He also says that he doesn't film a bunch of stuff and then decide how to put it together during editing. Fans have always been intrigued by the notion of extra scenes. In fact, that was even a question asked at the SLEEPAWAY CAMP REUNION. Robert assured the crowd that there were no missing scenes floating around. And that's it, straight from the creator/writer/director.

If you compare the MEDIA ENTERTAINMENT videocassette of SLEEPAWAY CAMP (which was released in 1984) with the ANCHOR BAY ENTERTAINMENT DVD (released in 2000), you might notice that a few scenes have been slightly shortened. One scene, in particular, is the 'Dead Kenny' shot. In the MEDIA video, you can see the watersnake when it first comes out of Kenny's mouth, but on the DVD, the scene cuts to when the snake has already made its way out of Kenny's mouth. A scene that is also missing is the shot where the boys jump off the dock and go skinny dipping!!"

External links

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