Sleepaway Camp

Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Felissa Rose, Christopher Collett
Extras: Commentary Track, Theatrical Trailer

’Sleepaway Camp’ is an odd little film, which was a late entry into the ’Slasher Cycle’ of the early 80s. The movie plays like a cross between ’Friday the 13th’ and the Bill Murray comedy ’Meatballs’. (It’s also unusual because there is no nudity and little gore, unlike most slasher films.) The film opens with a boating accident in which a father and a child are killed. We then jump ahead eight years, where the surviving child, Angela (Felissa Rose) and her cousin Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten) are going to camp. Once at camp, the shy and quiet Angela is constantly tormented by the other campers. Then, a series of grisly murders begin. Who’s doing the killing? Is is Angela? Is it the hot-tempered Ricky?

If you can get past the lackluster plot and the horrible costumes (When will people learn that tight shorts and knee socks don’t look good on men?), you’ll get what is hands down (or should I say, ’pants down’?) one of the best shock endings in film history. The ending will stay with you long after you’ve forgotten the first 80 minutes of the movie. The bulk of ’Sleepaway Camp’ is very average, but the finale makes this movie a must-see.

Despite the relative obscurity of the title, Anchor Bay Entertainment has a very nice job with the DVD of ’Sleepaway Camp’. The film is presented in an anamorphic widescreen and is letterboxed at 1.85:1. Anchor Bay has once again taken a low-budget film from the eighties and made it look very good. The digital transfer is very crisp and clear and surprisingly, shows no flaws in the source print, except for some lines on the film in Chapter 19. Also, there is little grain in the print, save for one night scene near the end. The colors on the print are very true, but a bit washed out at times. The single-layer disc shows no problems with compression or artifacting, most likely due to the short running time of the film. If it weren’t for the dated clothing in the film, you’d never guess that ’Sleepaway Camp’ was 17 years old while watching this DVD. The audio on the DVD is a Dolby Digital Mono track, which offers a limited dynamic range, but does give an acceptable presentation of the dialogue, music, and sound effects.

The DVD features an audio commentary by writer/director Robert Hitzlik, star Felissa Rose, and webmaster Jeff Hayes. The commentary is entertaining, as Hitzlik and Rose relate many anecdotes about the making of the film and working with so many teenagers. But, the commentary is also lacking, as Hitzlik is very vague about any deeper meaning of the film or how the final shot was done. Also, Rose’s constant, ’Yeah, baby!’ gets a little old. People watch this film to see the shock ending and it would have been nice to know a little more about it. The DVD also features a trailer, which is letterboxed at 1.85:1, but has a running time of only one minute, making it feel more like a TV spot.