In terms of horror franchises, the most "love" goes to iconic slashers like Freddy, Jason, Leatherface, and Michael Myers, amongst others. One particular franchise doesn't get as much love or appreciation in my opinion. For most horror fans, it is very much a "cult horror" franchise. Either way, the infamous "Sleepaway Camp" series should be a definite must for horror fans and slasher fans. As a series, it "carved" itself a niche into our hearts, and it demands frequent "visits."
1. "Sleepaway Camp" (1983)
This unforgettable entry into "summer camp horrors" was a "head" above the rest. Featuring classic performances, especially by Jonathan Tiersten as the awesomely foul-mouthed Ricky ("Eat shit and live, Bill..."), this film managed to balance some serious laughs with some serious splatter!! It's almost like one of those "good-time" 80s summer camp comedies, but with a body count! The central performance of the film, however, is Felissa Rose's creepy portrayal of Angela, a girl who is taunted and humiliated by fellow campers and councilors for being a little "different"... She had various nuances with her performance that made it very chilling. Her "ice cold stares" were something to behold. Dealing with such controversial topics such as pedophilia and homosexuality, this film really dared to be different, which is why it's so awesome! The most noteworthy aspect to the film is the bizarre, bat-shit carazy ending!!! For these reasons, "Sleepaway Camp" is most definitely recommended for all horror nuts!
Don't look at her eyes!!! Avert!!!!
Fast-forward five years later...
The home video market was booming, and horror movies were thriving in that department, especially slasher films. In response to this, two back-to-back "Sleepaway Camp" sequels were produced, therefore elevating the status of this cult series. These two sequels should NOT be thrown off as mere cash-ins for a franchise though. Both of these films are unique, hilarious, and gory send-ups of slasher flicks, and they deserve much appreciation!!
2. "Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers" (1988)
Angela Baker returns after a nice stint in a mental facility and manages to find herself a nice cozy job as (what else?) a camp councilor at Camp Rolling Hills, which is dangerously close to the infamous Camp Arawak, where the first murders took place. Throughout the film, Angela dispatches various campers and councilors that don't quite fit her moral standards (despite the fact that she's a transsexual serial killer, but that's besides the point), and much hilarity and gleeful depravity ensues... I love this film! It is chockful of all things that made 80s horror great!! It had copious amounts of sweet gore, awesome nudity, crazy 80s hair, tubular heavy metal, and Pamela (fucking) Springsteen!!!! The kid sister of The Boss himself, Pamela balanced her moral scruples with her deadpan humor. With lines like, "Dead teenagers brains," she really created a unique slasher villain that you can root for alongside Freddy, Jason, and Chucky! Also serving as a parody to 80s films, the many campers are named after brat-packers!! Such characters like virginal Molly (Ringwald), uber-bitch Ally (Sheedy), and weasly little shit campers like Judd (Nelson) and Emilio (Estevez) poked some fun at 80s teen culture, as well as 80s horror! The film featured a memorable sequence in which two practical jokers dressed as Jason and Freddy respectively, get menaced by Angela, dressed as Leatherface!!! This film is totally ripe for repeated viewings, and is a nice piece of slasher fun!!!
"Sleepaway Camp 2" found success in the home video market, and one year later, the third film was released, allowing Angela to continue her murderous exploits (much to many a horror fan's delight)!
3. "Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland" (1989)
After laying low for a while, Angela returns to her old killing grounds to face a new bunch of annoying-as-hell assholes begging to be killed (I loved the 80s...)!! The campground that used to be Camp Rolling Hills is now Camp New Horizons, which is host to a new experiment in "sharing." Two different classes of people, in this case, a bunch of lame-o rich brats, and a group of street-wise urchins, are paired to learn each others cultures- blah, blah, blah... kill 'em already!!! She most definitely does, using a wide array of weapons at her disposal, including firecrackers, an axe, a lawnmower, a garbage truck, and deadly chemicals!! This sequel is unique as it is a scathing commentary on class differences, as certain teen stereotypes are played out, lived up to, and are eventually decimated by Angela with smirking bravado. One such scene is when she blows up a tent with campers inside of it, in which she then roasts some marshmallows!!! Although the presence of Felissa Rose is regrettably lost in these sequels, Pamela Springsteen made the character her own, and established herself as one badass horror heroine!!! Parts 2 and 3 are great in that they were both unique slices of horror mayhem, and are actually "good" sequels!!! Don't let the roman numerals fool you, this is the good stuff!!!
Angela Baker, I love you!!! Marry me!! I'll be as good as you want me to be!!!
In conclusion, the original trilogy is a classic franchise of horror, and deserves to be appreciated just as much as the "Nightmare" series, the "Friday the 13th" series, the "Chucky" series, etc. I have not seen the recent sequel "Return to Sleepaway Camp," but i do indeed want to check that one out...
but until then, the glorious pile-on!!!!