Sleepaway Camp / Nightmare Vacation (1983)

The kitsch factor in this is absolutely off the charts. I was laughing my ass off so much while watching this that I would actually describe this as more of a comedy than a horror movie. First of all, it’s not very spooky. Not in the slightest. I’ve seen erectile dysfunction commercials that have been scarier than Sleepaway Camp. In fact, you pretty much keep forgetting that there’s even a murderer on the loose inside the camp site due to how non-nonchalant the movie keeps being about all the deaths until the very end when people in the camp finally go in full panic mode. Second of all, the writing is so over the top and subtle as a jackhammer at times that you can’t help but to laugh at the movie. You simply cannot take anything that happens in it that seriously. The only thing that stops it from being a parody is the lack of self-awareness.

Take for example the summer camp’s fat cook character: he turns out to be a blatant pedophile in less than a minute into his first appearance. The only way he could possibly make it clearer that he’s going to molest some kids during the summer would be if he’d actually diddle one of the children while wearing a T-shirt that said ‘future registered sex offender’ as he talks about all the underage poon he’d like to smash. The best part of the scene is that his coworkers don’t even blink and instead just joke about knowing what he’d like to do with the kids. Ah, the 80s. Back when child molestation was a standard subject for water cooler jokes. Good times, good times. And don’t you just know it, it’s only like five minutes later that the fat pedo is already trying to molest one of the main characters, Angela, in the kitchen’s storage room, only for Angela’s cousin, Rcky to rescue her at the last minute. Ha ha, oh that obese rascal!

And the cook is just the tip of the iceberg. To add to the bizarre weirdness, you also have Angela’s aunt and Ricky’s mother, who we see sending the two kids off to the summer camp at the beginning of the story. The second you see her,  you immediately notice that there’s something off about her. It’s like suddenly you’ve slipped into the twilight zone. Really, I’m not kidding. I for the life of me can’t make up my mind whether the actress was simply that awful and stilted, or if it was some kind of a conscious decision by the director to have her horribly overact every line she delivered. Now add to the mix all the small oddball mannerism and so blatantly fake cheery attitude that she portrays and you’d swear she resembled an android trying to act like a doting human mother, but not really getting the tone right. I literally kept wondering what the hell was going on with her the entire time she was on screen. And of course when you reach the twist ending of the movie and she appears again right before the credits start to roll, they somehow manage to make her even more perplexing of a character. Trust me on this, when you get to that scene in the end and learn a little more about the aunt character, you will find yourself shouting “WHAT?!” at the screen at the top of your lungs.

Honestly, I like this movie far more than I logically should. Almost nothing interesting ever happens in terms of plot, the acting is a bit all over the place and considering how this is meant to be a slasher movie, there’s way too little killing going on. Not to mention all the murders, apart from maybe one, end up being obnoxiously lame . I mean honestly, one of the murders is just locking a guy inside bathroom stall when he’s doing his business and then the killer dropping a hive of angry bees/wasps inside so the guy locked in the stall gets stung to death. That’s it. Yet despite all the things wrong with the movie, somehow I find myself liking this trainwreck. It’s so awful in all the right places that you can’t turn away from it, it’s so unintentionally funny that you’re in danger of getting cramps from all the laughing.

 

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