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Blu-ray Review: Sleepaway Camp (Collector’s Edition)
Adam Frazier   |  @   |  

Scream Factory Presents Sleepaway Camp

Sleepaway Camp
Blu-ray + DVD Combo
Director: Robert Hiltzik
Screenwriter: Robert Hiltzik
Cast: Mike Kellin, Katherine Kamhi, Paul DeAngelo, Jonathan Tiersten, Felissa Rose, Karen Fields, Christopher Collet, John E. Dunn
Scream Factory
Unrated | 87 Minutes
Release Date: May 27, 2013

If you’re a connoisseur of ’80s horror movies, odds are you’re familiar with Robert Hiltzik‘s 1983 cult classic, Sleepaway Camp. A summer camp slasher in the vein of Friday the 13th and The Burning, Sleepaway Camp is an ode to short shorts and side ponytails – and the wholesale slaughter of horny kids and camp counselors with Long Island accents, of course.

After a horrific boating accident killed her family, Angela Baker (Felissa Rose) is sent to live with her eccentric creepy, possibly schizophrenic Aunt Martha (Desiree Gould) and her cousin Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten). Good ol’ Aunt Martha sends the little kiddies off to Camp Arawak for the summer to enjoy the great outdoors.

I mean, who doesn’t have fond memories of summer camp? There’s canoeing, campfires, water snakes – the ever-present threat of pedophilia – what’s not to love? Shortly after their arrival, a series of bizarre and exceedingly violent “accidents” claim the lives of campers and counselors. Camp owner Mel Costic (Mike Kellin), however, is seemingly unconcerned about the rising death toll. He’s kind of like Mayor Larry Vaughn from Jaws, but more Milton Berle-esque.

If you’ve never seen Sleepaway Camp, you’re missing out on truly one of the most WTF-worthy slasher flicks in film history. It’s amateurish in every aspect of filmmaking – writing, directing, cinematography, lighting, acting, editing – and yet it is one of the most watchable, absorbing horror movies I’ve seen. It’s hilarious and bizarre – like a space alien’s interpretation of a slasher film.

Sleepaway Camp Blu-Ray Review

Sleepaway Camp is like a bad dream you can’t wake up from – one that stays with you days after. It’s not that it’s particularly frightening or disturbing, it’s just so outlandish and shocking that you’re left wondering how it even exists. I mean, we’re talking about a film that begins with the dedication, “In fond memory of Mom, a doer.” WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN!?

Sleepaway Camp hits Blu-ray via a brand new 2K scan of the film’s 35 mm negative. As with most Scream Factory releases, this film looks better than it has any right to, with healthy grain retention and full colors. As someone who has only seen this film on VHS, I’m blown away by the transfer. A 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track is limited by the mediocre quality of the source track, but dialogue and music remain well-balanced throughout.

As for extras, Scream Factory’s collector’s edition comes with not one but three audio commentary tracks: one with Felissa Rose and Jonathan Tiersten, one with writer/director Robert Hiltzik, moderated by webmaster Jeff Hayes, and the original audio commentary from the previous DVD release with Hiltzik and Rose. There’s also a 45-minute documentary titled “At the Waterfront After the Social: The Legacy of Sleepaway Camp” – a retrospective featuring new interviews with the cast and crew.

Other extras include “Judy,” a short film by fansite webmaster Jeff Hayes that follows up on Karen Fields’ character. Weirdly enough, this collection also features a music video from Jonathan Tiersten, who is now a musician. There’s also your typical assortment of behind-the-scenes photos, a demo of the 2K scanning process, and trailers and TV spots.

I would highly recommend this collector’s edition Blu-ray of Sleepaway Camp. Scream Factory has provided horror fans with yet another definitive release of a beloved cult classic. I can’t imagine this film ever looking better – or finding a group of film freaks who would put more time into trying than Scream Factory.


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PS: In the late ’80s, Michael A. Simpson directed two sequels, Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers and Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland. In them, Angela (now played by Bruce Springsteen’s younger sister, Pamela Springsteen) resurfaces as a counselor after a sex change that made her entirely female.

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