Sep 20, 2015

Sleepaway Camp

Aside from when I saw a number of the A Nightmare on Elm Street films and John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) when I was a little kid and my initial viewing of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and its sardonic sequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) when I was in middle school, I cannot think of very many slasher flicks that have ever left any sort of deep impression me, especially after I became a teenage and was no longer impressed by pseudo-mystifying retarded masked killers and bare breasts, though I can think of at least one film from the mostly hopelessly banally formulaic and singularly soulless horror subgenre that left me, like most first time viewers of the film, quite shocked and even repelled. Indeed, Sleepaway Camp (1983) aka Nightmare Vacation directed by Robert Hiltzik is notable for having one of the most ridiculously shocking and equally repugnant twist endings in all of cinema history and luckily when I first saw the film when I was about 18 no one had already spoiled it for me (in fact, if you have not seen the film and want to, you should probably refrain from reading this review, even though the flick will probably still surprise you even if you know what to expect). While more or less just as tasteless, illogical, ineptly directed and artless as the average stupid disposable slasher turd, the film somehow has lots of character, charm, gallons of venomous gallows humor, and a preternaturally perverse conclusion that is guaranteed to internally wound the legions of LGBT lobotomized lemmings belonging to the forsaken generation known as millennials. Featuring ugly muscular wops in booty shorts that accentuate their genitals, preteen boys doing crude borderline homoerotic things like putting their bare asses in other boys’ faces, a goofy minstrel-esque Uncle Tom negro with large frog eyes, creepy gay dream-sequences involving small children and their bourgeois flamer ‘fathers,’ a superlatively shady and ambiguously Hebraic summer camp owner who is more concerned with losing business than losing campers to horrific deaths, and slutty guidettes that have dedicated their sad little petty lives to making sure that all boys have their eyes on them and no other girls, Sleepaway Camp is a pleasantly offensive and bittersweetly sickeningly piece of pseudo-Freudian slasher trash as directed by a seemingly psychopathic kosher would-be-comedian who uses the horror sub-genre as a means to playfully poke fun of pedos, homos, sluts, dumb wops, buffoonish blacks and various other kinds of people that are easy to make fun of yet are rarely satirized in cinema nowadays because Hollywood is run mostly by culture-distorting cultural Marxist degenerates of the largely Judaic persuasion who want the masses to believe that flooding the United States with third worlders, pretending that all races and genders are equal, and accepting a guy that wants to have his balls chopped and dick turned inside out is normal are all important religious doctrines that will lead the country to becoming some sort of magical utopia where race, sex, and morality have all been transcended in a manner that makes the peak liberal future world depicted in John Boorman's Zardoz (1974) seem outmoded and counterrevolutionary by comparison. Arguably one of the most idiosyncratic elements of the film aside from its singularly shocking ending is its shameless misuse of histrionic melodrama in a manner that reminds the viewer they are watching a film about a bunch of goofy New York City and New Jersey Jews and Guidos and not some boring uptight WASPs like the ones that are mocked in Hebraic Hollywood hack Barry Sonnenfeld's Addams Family Values (1993), thus making the cinematic experience all the more racially insensitive and, in turn, hilarious. Bathed in more (seemingly unintentional) bathos than blood as a distinctly tasteless yet undeniably creative slasher piece where all the victims are murdered in various absurd ways that makes a mockery out of their fairly violent and brutal deaths, Sleepaway Camp is like a disharmonious marriage between the seemingly discordant cinematic sensibilities of veteran Semitic smut-peddler Lloyd Kaufman and an exceedingly emotionally stunted pothead Douglas Sirk. 

 After a pseudo-omnious and pointlessly long establishing shot of an abandoned summer called ‘Camp Arawak’ where a piece of wood reading “For Sale” is nailed to the main sign, the film cuts to a shot of a little boy named Peter and his twin sister Angela play fighting on a boat while their discernibly effete divorced single father John Baker (Dan Tursi) sunbathes like some rich old self-absorbed queen. When a moronic lifeguard who is clearly desperate for pussy foolishly allows a Jewish American Princess named Mary Ann (Alyson Mord) take over the steering wheel after she desperately begs him by saying outstandingly arrogant things like, “I know who to drive these things…My old man’s got one twice as big,” things get a little bit ugly and reveal why a man should never allow a woman to drive. Indeed, not long after the father and his kids’ boat tips over after the poof-like patriarch clumsily loses his balance and causes the entire small sea vessel to flip over, Mary Ann loses control of the speedboat and runs them over, thereupon killing the patriarch and his son, or so it initially seems. Curiously, a random queer named Lenny (James Paradise), who watches while in a state of paralyzed horror when the speedboat mows down the family, screams when he sees the father’s corpse floating in the lake, thus hinting that the kid's daddy is a donut-puncher. Flash forward eight years later and the little girl, Angela Baker (Felissa Rose), is now a seemingly autistic teenage girl of the extremely introverted sort who lives with her gregarious guido cousin Ricky Thomas (Jonathan Tiersten) and discernibly deranged aunt Dr. Martha Thomas (Desiree Gould), who is seeing the kids off to summer camp and, for whatever reason, strangely opts to give the kids phony medical documents for a physical, but not before warning the two, “Just be careful not to tell anyone how you got them. Oh, no, no…I’m afraid they would not approve of that at all…even though they know that I am a doctor.” Aunt Martha, who dresses like some sort of super chic French lipstick lesbian and seems to suffer from some sort of comorbid Bipolar disorder, is such an exceedingly eccentric woman that she tied a string around her finger to remember to give the kids the medical documents, though it will not be until the end of the film that the viewer discovers the true degree of her derangement. 

 Camp Arawak is owned and run by a dirty old man named Mel Costic (veteran Jewish actor Mike Kellin, who appeared in Richard Fleischer’s The Boston Strangler (1968)) that looks like he could be the debauched brother of pulp auteur Samuel Fuller and seems like the sort of guy that made his fortune illegally peddling porn, pussy, and PCP, among other things. Unbeknownst to Mel, one of his campers this summer is an aspiring sadistic killer who has a fetish for creative killings and does not take kindly to unscrupulous conmen like himself who are not above hiring pedophiles and paying his negro employees a slave wage and treating them like they are retarded farm animals. When Angela and her cousin Ricky arrive at the camp, the perennially passive-aggressive protagonist refuses to both eat and talk, so a nice guido camp counselor of the stoic and muscular yet dumb sort named Ronnie (Paul DeAngelo) asks a morbidly obese slob of a cook named Artie (Owen Hughes) to specially prepare her whatever meal she might fancy in the hope that she will finally eat something. Unfortunately, proudly boorish vulgarian Artie is an repentant pedophile who calls underage girls “fresh chicken” and “baldies,” so naturally he seizes the opportunity to try to molest Angela when he takes her in the back of the camp kitchen, but luckily cousin Ricky walks in before he can whip out his pedo prick. Somewhat strangely, not long after he attempts to defile Angela, Artie is critically injured and has all of the flesh on his flabby body horribly burned as a result of a mysterious camper causing a giant pot of boiling water to spill on the hapless hog-like kiddyfucker. Of course, kosher conman Mel is more interested in covering up the incident than the safety of his head cook, so he offers an extra $50 to each of the other cooks, who all happen to be meek acting nonwhites, to keep their mouths shut. As one might expect after seeing what happens to Artie after he attempts to molest the protagonist, every single character that dares to mess with quasi-autistic introvert Angela meets a grisly end, though one is not completely sure until the very end of the film as to whether or not she is actually the killer, especially since her cousin Ricky, who has serious anger problems, is especially protective of her. 

 Undoubtedly Angela’s biggest nemesis at summer camp is a conspicuously cunty guidette slut with a glaringly large head and petite body named Judy (Karen Fields) who is so shamelessly narcissistic that she wears a shirt with her name on it and is jealous of any girl that gets more male attention than her, including creepy introverts like the protagonist.  Naturally, Angela makes Judy feel quite uneasy by incessantly staring at her while maintaining an emotionless facial expression that ultimately causes the teenage she-bitch to fly into irrational rages.  As is insinuated at the beginning of the film, Ricky and Judy were apparently a romantic item the previous summer, but now that the little slut has the attention of older boys, she has no need for the little lad, who calls her a “bitch” under his breath after she blows him off upon the two being reunited for the first time in a year. Unfortunately for Angela, Judy is best friends with the main female camp counselor Meg (Katherine Kamhi), who also develops a special irrational hatred and resentment towards the ‘passively antisocial’ protagonist. Luckily for Angela, at least a first, Ricky’s sweet and generically handsome yet insufferably banal Aryan friend Paul (Christopher Collet of Michael Apted’s Firstborn (1984) and Marshall Brickman’s The Manhattan Project (1986)), soon develops a crush on her and treats her with an inordinate degree of kindness and respect that she is not used to. In fact, the first time he talks to Angela, Paul manages to get her to speak for the first time in the entire film (she simply says “goodnight,” which causes the would-be-loverboy to jump with joy), but the same night, a mullet-adorned boy named Kenny (soap opera actor John E. Dunn of the long running show All My Children aka AMC) who insulted the protagonist by rather rudely asking her “why are you so fucked up?” is drowned in the camp lake and found the next morning by an agitated counselor with snakes and other creatures on his already rotting corpse.  Of course, conman Mel treats Kenny's death like it is an accident, even though he knows that the teen was a good swimmer.  When a group of boys dare to pelt Angela with water balloons from the relative safety of a cabin roof, the leader of the craven culprits, Billy (Loris Sallahain), soon finds himself locked inside a bathroom stall while taking a “wicked dump” where he is soon stung to death by a large swarm of bees in a fashion that recalls Curtis Harrington's TV movie Killer Bees (1974) after some mysterious killer drops a beehive inside the locked piss-stained makeshift prison cell.  Needless to say, the enigmatic mystery killer suffers from an eccentric form of sadism as reflected in the fairly eclectic ways he decides to dispatch his/her victims and the deaths only get all the more absurd as the film progresses.

 When Paul makes various attempts to kiss and get physical with Angela and he is routinely rebuffed by the unconventionally shy protagonist for seemingly no reason, he naturally becomes sexually frustrated and soon falls prey to the lustful charms of alpha-slut Judy, who is jealous of the attention that the female lead gets from the ‘nice boy’ and thus takes him into the woods and begins kissing him even though she seems to have no genuine sexual interest in him. While Paul eventually pushes Judy away, the damage is already done as both Ricky and Angela witness his treacherous pseudo-romantic encounter with the resident camp whore. Of course, Paul immediately begs Angela to forgive him, but jealous wench Judy ruins his impassioned apology by revealing to the protagonist that he called her a “prude” due to her unwillingness to take their relationship to a more physical level.  Meanwhile, conman Mel, who is more or less hysterical over the fact that reputation of his summer camp business is ruined due to all the recent violent deaths and is thus extremely desperate to discover the identity of the killer, comes to the somewhat dubious conclusion that Ricky—a fairly verbally violent and emotionally erratic young man that loves calling his enemies “cocksuckers” and threatening them in various way—is the mystery murderer and even grabs and attacks the young man and accuses him of the crimes while Amy and Meg proceed throw Angela into a lake. Needless to say, both Judy and Meg do not live long after what they do to Angela. 

 Indeed, Judy dies in what is arguably the most horrific yet fitting death scene when the killer visits her in her cabin while she is all alone, knocks her out, and the proceeds to shove an electric curling iron in her seemingly overused pussy while she is semi-conscious, thus causing the bitchy high school harlot to scream in abject horror as she perishes as a result of her badly burnt baby-chute. Additionally, after curiously agreeing to meet Mel for a romantic dinner despite the fact that he is probably old enough to be her grandfather, cunt counselor Meg is killed after someone literally stabs her in the back while she is showering in preparation for his dubious date with the dirty old man. Needless to say, when Mel, who was hoping to get a piece of young counselor cunt, goes looking for Meg when she does not show up for their planned dinner date and eventually discovers her unclad corpse lying face down with brutal stabs wound on the back, he breaks down and self-righteously declares in regard to Ricky, who he still believes is the killer, “He did it! I had him and I let him go…Please forgive me, Meg. I’ll stop him. I gotta stop him. He won’t get away, Meg. He won’t get away from me again.” Meanwhile, Paul meets up with Angela and pleads with her to give him a second chance and she replies by uttering the famous foreboding line, “Meet me at the waterfront after the social.” Around the same time, four out of six little preteen boys that were responsible for throwing sand at Angela are brutally hacked into pieces in the woods. When Mel finally finds Ricky, he begins brutally beating him to death with his bare hands like a savage rabid ape and then proceeds to attempt to escape from the camp so that no one will discover the deplorable things that he has done. Unfortunately for him, Mel decides to walk by the camp archery target and gets killed after the mysterious murder shoots an arrow into his neck, but not before saying while in a state of paralyzing denial upon observing the identity of the killer, “It can’t be you. It can’t be. It can’t be.”  Of course, at this point in the film, it becomes fairly clear that Ricky is not the killer as he has just been beaten within an inch of his life by Mel and could not possibly have caught up with his would-be-killer so soon.

 When Paul finally meets Angela at the waterfront, he is predictably excited when she seems to shed her sensual shyness and tells him to take his clothes off so that they can go skinny-dipping together in what one would assume would be a rather romantic late night swim between two virginal lovebirds. When counselor Ronnie and a nice female counselor named Susie (Susan Glaze) go looking for unaccounted campers due to the various string of brutal murders that have occurred that night, they eventually happen upon a completely unclad Angela, who is quietly singing to herself while cradling an equally naked Paul like he is precious little baby. At this point, the films begins getting especially unhinged and Angela has a flashback from eight years before when her crazy Aunt Martha sinisterly stated to ‘her’ upon adopting her after the death of her father and sibling, “Oh, you're going to enjoy living with us so much. Yes, I know you are! As a welcome home present, I bought you such wonderful new clothes. I just hope that Richard doesn't get jealous that I didn't get him anything. Oh, but then, he is such a dear. I'm sure that he won't mind. You see, I've always wanted a little girl. But, of course, when my husband left... Oh, well, that's all water under the bridge, as I always say. Water under the bridge! But it certainly will be a nice little surprise when Richard comes home to find a little girl in the house. Yes, I've always dreamed of a little girl just like you. I mean, we already have a little boy, so another one would simply not do. No, no, absolutely not. A little girl would be so much nicer, don’t you thinks so, Angela? Angela…such a lovely name.” Indeed, in a terrible transsexual twist, Angela is revealed to be not actually Angela but ‘Peter.’ Indeed, after his father and twin sister died, Aunt Martha forced Peter to assume his sister's identity and take her name, hence the protagonist’s reluctance to shower with other girls at the camp and forged medical record, among other various questionable things that do not quite add up until the very end of the film.  Since Aunt Martha is a doctor, she probably regularly injected poor Peter with female hormones when he was growing up.  After the flashback scene, Ronnie and Susie are startled to see that ‘Angela,’ who is completely naked aside from blood that is soaked all over her body and is growling like a rabid beast in heat while holding Paul’s decapitated head in one hand and a bloody knife in the other, is actually a male and has a swarthy little cock. Ultimately, Ronnie is more shocked about the fact that Angela has a penis and no tits than he is about coming to the revelation that she is actually the mysterious killer and that she has just decapitated Paul with a fairly small knife as demonstrated by the gregarious Guido’s remark, “How can it be? My god, she's a boy!”  Indeed, unfortunately it seems that Aunt Martha did not have enough skills as a doctor to personally give Angela a full sex change.  Of course, the viewer is also more startled about the fact the ostensibly female protagonist has a prick than the fact that (s)he has just killed a very nice and caring young gentleman who would not dare to even harm a fly.

 As can be expected for a film that was created on a relatively minuscule budget of $350,000 yet went on to earn $11,000,000 at the box office, Sleepaway Camp was followed by a couple sequels, albeit of the apparently unauthorized sort. Indeed, Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988) and Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989) feature Bruce Springsteen's younger sister Pamela Springsteen as a post-op tranny Angela who has achieved her dream of becoming an ostensible biological woman with a gash yet still has a big enough undying homicidal urge to masquerade as a counselor at a nearby camp so that she can exterminate dumb teenagers in a variety of creatively malefic ways. Instead of the original director Hiltzik, Michael A. Simpson was responsible for directing both of these ‘rogue sequels,’ which have a sort of somewhat schlocky low-camp tone and are notable for predating both Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994) and Scream (1996) in terms of being darkly comedic pieces of ‘metacinema’ that poke fun at the outmoded clichés and conventions of the slasher subgenre. The director of the two unofficial sequels, Michael A. Simpson, apparently wrote a screenplay for a third sequel entitled Sleepaway Camp: Berserk, but it is doubtful that it will ever get made, especially considering he has no rights to the franchise. A third unofficial sequel entitled Sleepaway Camp IV: The Survivor directed by Jim Markovic began production in the early 1990s but was aborted, though the footage from the unfinished film was included with Anchor Bay/Starz Entertainment's Sleepaway Camp DVD boxed set and in 2012 the film was even completed after recycled footage from the previous films was mixed with the new footage in an Ulli Lommel-esque fashion and subsequently released on DVD. After discovering that the original film had such a large cult following, the original Sleepaway Camp director, Robert Hiltzik, who curiously never directed another film after his first, decided to direct the first ‘official’ sequel. Indeed, while welcomed by fans, Hiltzik’s sequel Return to Sleepaway Camp (2008) proved to be an abject disappointment and has next to nil of the charm, charisma, or effective dark humor of the original film. Apparently, Hiltzik also began working on a third ‘official’ sequel entitled Sleepaway Camp Reunion so as to complete a trilogy, as well as a remake, but hopefully neither of these films will reach past the pre-production stage as the franchise has become even more laughable than the A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Halloween, and even Leprechaun film series. 

 Undoubtedly, Sleepaway Camp hold a special place in American 1980s horror cinema history alongside William Asher’s Night Warning (1982) aka Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker and A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985), and Robert Harmon’s The Hitcher (1986) as a rare sodomite slasher flick that baffles the mostly braindead fans of the horror subgenre. Of course, unlike the other mentioned films, there is nothing ambiguous in terms of the innate gayness of Hiltzik’s film, which will surely offend the hell of out preposterously prissy LGBT social justice warrior types due to its uniquely flattering depiction of a homicidal boy who had a gay dad and whose deranged aunt inspired his murderous tendencies after forcing him to become a crypto-tranny when he was still just a little boy. As real-life true crime history like the life of American serial killer Henry Lee Lucas demonstrates, ‘Angela’ is not the first person who grew up to become a serial killer after his caretaker made him wear dresses. Despite the fact that the film features nil female nudity and is plagued by fairly creepy and/or crude insistences of random homoeroticism (including a scene where a young boy puts his bare ass in another boy’s face) and extra perverse male nudity (aside from the shocking ending, the film also apparently featured a male skinny-dipping scene featuring male full-frontal nudity but it was later cut), Sleepaway Camp director Hiltzik is apparently a married father, thus it would not be hard for SJWs to accuse him of being a homo-hater. Somewhat curiously as revealed in an inter-title featured at the very beginning of the film reading, “In Fond Memory of Mom, A Doer,” Hiltzik dedicated the film to his mother, which becomes all the more strange to think about when one considers the film’s many similarities with Hitchcock’s classic proto-slasher flick Psycho (1960). 

 The ultimate chick-with-a-dick slasher flick, Hiltzik's somewhat sophisticatedly sleazy cinematic work is an assault on the viewer, especially the male heterosexual viewer, who spends a good portion of the movie thinking about what is under the strange female lead’s panties, only to discover it is a shriveled flaccid cock, Sleepaway Camp certainly deserves the dubious distinction of being a sort of slasher equivalent of Michael Sarne’s botched Gore Vidal adaptation Myra Breckinridge (1970). Indeed, in terms of its bizarre approach to gender-bending and fairly cynical look at humanity, the film is probably the only slasher flick that could be screened as a double feature with Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s masterpiece In einem Jahr mit 13 Monden (1978) aka In a Year with 13 Moons, though I think it work best in a double screening with Paul Bartel’s underrated Hitchcockian ‘trans-slasher’ Private Parts (1972), which features a carnally confused killer who is a chick that wished she had a dick. Aside from Bartel’s film, other films that feature a transsexual killer whose gender confusion is an innate ingredient of their homicidal rage include William A. Fraker’s A Reflection of Fear (1972), Don Gronquist’s Unhinged (1982), and Geoffrey ‘Romper Stomper’ Wright’s Cherry Falls (2000) starring tragic Hollywood diva Brittany Murphy. Additionally, Bob Clark’s debut She-Man: A Story of Fixation (1967) and Russ Meyer's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) provide more absurdist examples of tyrannical transsexual sadism and savagery.  Exceedingly Hebraic in its summer camp setting (as films like Dirty Dancing only cryptically hint at, most American Hebrew children go to Zionist summer camps where they are brainwashed into oblivion about the superiority of their race), almost vaudevillian murder gimmicks and lowbrow humor, and post-Freudian sexual perversity, Sleepaway Camp is ultimately like The Burning (1981) with balls and a bad attitude, at least as far as sleazy Semitic slasher flicks are concerned, though thankfully it lacks the involvement of kosher creatures like Jason Alexander and Harvey Wenstein. In its wicked subversion and transexualization of the played-out ‘final girl’ trope and decidedly dubious depiction of the victims as ‘getting what they deserved,’ not mention its depiction of a autistic teenage chick with a prick, Hiltzik's film is ultimately more cleverly transgressive than most of the films associated with the Cinema of Transgression movement, albeit it was clearly constructed to appeal to an unwitting mainstream audience, thus arguably making it all the more subversive.  Of course, unlike most slasher flicks, Hiltzik's film is at least partially scary, as nothing would be more horrifying to a teenage boy than to taking off a girl's panties and finding a wrinkly cock instead of creamy cunt staring back at them. Naturally, the film would also probably scare the hell out of certain parents and child alike in its particularly perverse ‘Primal Scene’ (or what Freud called ‘Urszene’) flashback segment where the mentally perturbed protagonist recalls giggling with his twin sister upon catching their beloved daddy in bed with his lover.  Indeed, you know a horror flick is doing something right when you do not know whether or not you should laugh or vomit during scenes that have nothing to do with violent death, dismemberments, etc.  Indeed, if there was a slasher that might inspire Bruce Jenner to get the testicular fortitude to go all the way with his patently preposterous post-midlife-crisis tranny charade and make the mistake of a lifetime by getting his cock and balls hacked off, it is mostly certainly Sleepaway Camp, which plainly demonstrates that a chick with a dick is an unspeakable sight that incites a sort of short-term metaphysical affliction in those individuals that are unfortunate enough to witness such a thing.

-Ty E

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a curious time in our history; a perfect time, in fact, to review a film like Sleepaway Camp. Haven't seen this in years but I do, of course, remember people being "shocked" by the big reveal; it was all most of the kids I knew who'd seen it could talk about. As you pointed out, there are fairly strange instances of homoeroticism, as well -- they stood out to me even as a kid, though I was pretty blissfully unaware of that sort of thing most of the time.

Here's the thing, in regard to this film: I have no problem with cinematic depictions of buggers, clam-munchers and trans-whatchamacallits as long as filmmakers are willing to tackle the more unsavory (i.e. realistic) aspects of these communities. What we get now, decades after the rainbow lobby pressured the psychiatric community out of defining homosexuality as a mental aberration, is little more than one-dimensional cheerleading for swishiness, anal sex, and shoe-shopping with fag hags as the ideal state of existence for men. What we get now is a calculated refusal to acknowledge the various links that history has drawn between homosexuality/gender confusion and various serial killers and acts of antisocial destruction. What we get now is sheer leftist propaganda that exists to actively cover up the health risks posed by the homosexual lifestyle, to cover up the homosexual community's practice of "converting" boys as young as possible, to cover up the oft-noted connection between childhood molestation and the later development of a gay identity.

Sleepaway Camp exists as a relic from a time when one could note these connections in a mainstream film and not be boycotted, picketed and campaigned-against to death. As such, it's a more honest piece of work than anything one is likely to see today on the subject of our friendly little disease vectors.