I’m just going to say what we have all been thinking for a long time – the 80s was a pretty embarrassing decade. Sure, some things were pretty awesome, like the NES, Transformers, Rocky 3, and hip hop that actually had something to say besides “Check out how many bitches I have.” But a lot more stuff lurks in our collective past that we would rather forget about. And one thing that we just cannot get over are slasher movies. Love ’em, or hate ’em, no one can deny that slasher flicks are not exactly fantastic pieces of cinema, and this week’s Ass Bin entry, Sleepaway Camp, is no different. My fellow writer, Parchita, has this to say about the mess we’re getting ourselves into:
Sleepaway Camp is my favorite movie. Yes, it’s a really terrible film, but it’s pretty much the quintessential example of “So Bad, It’s Good.” So when I gave the film to Dryden for The Ass Bin, I did it with a bit of hesitation. I know the film is ripe for parody (it’s what makes it so enjoyable) but I was hoping that he’d really get it. Thankfully, he did. (Which is good, because I’m going to blackmail him into helping me stage the musical adaptation of this movie that I’m writing.)
For those of you who have never had the pleasure of seeing Sleepaway Camp, it’s a quaint foray into the milieu of your typical 80s summer camp; cruel pranks, mullets, late-night skinny dipping, and midriffs with short shorts… on men. (I’m pretty sure that I was conceived under these conditions, good times for all!) The story focuses on two cousins, Ricky and Angela Baker, as they navigate their way through the turbulent waters of friendship, honor, love, and puberty that play out against this harrowing backdrop of life and death! A killer lurks among this seemingly whimsical utopia… who will live? Who will die? And will they figure it out in time?
The thing about Sleepaway Camp is that it’s actually really clever. The more you watch it, the more you see hidden clues planted everywhere. The problem comes with working on a shoestring budget and a cast of 14 year olds… that’s why Sleepaway Camp is relegated to The Ass Bin, yet takes a place as a shining example of a really fun experience for all!
I laughed hard enough at Sleepaway Camp that I cried during some parts. It gets that bad at times. So instead of denying you the blood soaked bits of joy, this week’s Ass Bin will go through my
bottom top ten so-bad-it’s-good moments during this 80 minute travesty.
10. The DVD is so low quality that it skips right past the menu and goes straight to the movie. Maybe the producer knew that viewers would rage at the three minutes of establishing camp scene shots during the opening while they are forced to watch the credits and just wanted to jump right into it? Probably not.
9. Two words clearly describe the head cook – child molester. The movie undeniably points to it, yet other characters seem unaware of his pedophilic urges, even laughing off his comments on how sexy the girls are as a joke. Of course, his dialogue comes straight from an HR department’s sexual harassment video. Even better, the unassuming counselors leave him alone with campers.
In a walk-in refrigerator.
And no one questions why he walks out fixing his belt and drinking a beer. *sigh*
8. Speaking of beer, the staff drinks and smokes in front of the campers with reckless abandon. As a former summer camp lifeguard, I can assure you that camp counselors drink, smoke, and have sex just as much as, if not more than, slasher movies show…but not in front of campers! Holy crap. With role models like this in the 80s, the 90s suddenly make so much more sense.
7. All the counselors are gay. All of them. *Short* shorts (even for the 80s), belly shirts, obvious crotch bulges, etc. When the female counselors reject their group invite for skinny dipping, they just go without them. And at every chance, the boys “fight” by jumping in a big pile and touching each other’s asses. Take that as you will.
6. Why are “hawt” girls in 80s movies actually hideous man-beasts with lion’s mane hair dos and four foot wide shoulders that no guys can resist? Did teased hair and shoulder pads ever really give guys boners?
5. Adding to the confusion, these secksay babes score an 11/10 on the Slutty Bitch Scale. The main two constantly harass Angela because one guy talks to her a few times, which offends their whorish regime, apparently. How slutty are they? Queen Bitch Judy has a butt length bathrobe…with a slit up the side. Fortunately, the killer solves that problem by using a hot curling iron to, uh, cauterize her axe wound, if you catch my drift.
4. Some of the dialogue actually comes off really well. My favorite line occurs early in the movie during a baseball game between protagonist Ricky and douchebag camp bully, Bill. “Eat shit and die, Ricky.” To which Ricky responds, sarcastically, “Eat shit and live, Bill.”
3. The police take the “wait and see if more people are killed before we decide there’s a problem” approach that works so well in every other horror movie ever. See, the camp staff has a stronger reaction towards a water balloon fight than a murder. Though after a few deaths, they decide that Ricky wants to get the camp closed down…for some reason, maybe because everyone there treats him and his cousin Angela like total shit. *shrug*
2. P.S. The cop has two different mustaches, a real one during his first time on camera halfway through the film, and a fake mustache seemingly made from electrical tap during the last scene.
1. Sleepaway Camp does have one connection to Hollywood stardom. James Earl Jones…*dramatic pause*…’s father plays one of the camp cooks and also the black stereotype. You know which one I’m talking about. If he had said “yessuh masta” while shucking corn, which he does do, no one would be surprised. Except for the fact that one of the greatest African American actors has a father that apparently doesn’t care about black representation in movies. But you know, whatever.
0. I am extremely disappointed that the teenage sexual escapades slasher flicks can be counted on showing turned out to be the fugly Angela making out with an annoying blonde creep, at which point she remembers walking in on her dad having sex with her other dad and runs away horrified. Oh, and that event is subtly implied to be a reason why she is reclusive and also a serial killer. Yup, let your kids see you have gay sex, which means staring into your lover’s eyes and stroking his chest hair, and they will become murderers. At least it’s an accurate description of what homos do in the bedroom, right?
-1. If you look up this movie online, you might find praise for the surprise ending. Yes, Angela is the killer, but if that comes as a surprise after watching for more than ten minutes, shoot yourself directly in the frontal lobe. You weren’t using it anyway. No, the surprise comes during the closing moments, and if you don’t want it spoiled for you, try to avoid the next line.
Angela is a boy. Watch all the way to the end, and you will see his penis. And you do not want to see that penis, I promise.
Recommendation: Okay, yeah, this turned out to be a bottom 12 list, but if you watch the movie, you’ll see why I just had to keep going. Any fans of bad acting and poorly implemented horror will eat up Sleepaway Camp with a shovel. You know, ‘cause it’s crap. Get it? Shovel? Crap?