Sleepaway Camp (1983) (1983)
July 23, 2014 5:03 PM - Subscribe

Slightly traumatized and painfully shy Angela Baker is sent away to summer camp with her cousin. Not long after Angela's arrival, things start to go horribly wrong for anyone with sinister or less than honorable intentions.

This week's selection for both the MeFi Horror and MeFi Summer Camp Movie Clubs, this cult favorite is... an 80's relic? A cult gem? An underappreciated gem of the slasher era? A bizarre head-scratcher with a WTF ending? The film is available for viewing on YouTube.
posted by DirtyOldTown (63 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Holy crotch bulges, Batman!

Seriously, most horror movies have big breasted women running around naked and getting slaughtered, but Sleepaway Camp opts instead for ripped dudes in mesh shirts and short shorts that are so tight you can see their mushroom caps. I only wish they had guys in half shirts, because I am still not sure if that was a real thing or just a fever dream.

Also, they just throw in the fact that their dad is intimate with another dude without judgment or really saying anything. I felt like the scene where the dad and friend are getting it on was great. The kids are watching from the door, surprised. Not because it isn't heteronormative, but because any kids watching their dad banging would be shocked. At least in my opinion. And of course the brother and sister decide to start poking at each other to see what it is all about. Creepy, but not especially surprising.

Oh and the movie is hilarious. What a great film.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:33 PM on July 23, 2014

That previous comment was my summer camp opinion, this one is my horror opinion.

While the movie wasn't really scary at all, the kills were more or less all inventive which more than made up for it. The effects were also pretty weak, but still the scene with the pedo cook's skin boiling off was both horrifying and hilarious. Popping up under a capsized canoe? Genius! A beehive into a locked bathroom stall? YES! About the only cliched murder was of the counselor in the shower, but even that was interesting because the director opted away from the typical full nude shower that you would expect in a slasher movie.

Of course the real payoff in the movie is the ending, and it is wonderful. I think I saw this movie like 20 or more years ago, so had this inkling of what was going to happen but I wasn't sure. Then it all comes tumbling down and you see 'Angela' with a dude's head in her lap and a crazy look on her face. That wide eyed, open mouthed face is terrifying! And then the reveal, which is not only comepletely ridiculous, but it also makes it so the only real nudity in the film happens to be male full frontal. Excellent!

So even though the movie isn't really scary at all, the end scene opens up so many avenues of horrific thought that Sleepaway Camp scores a solid unadjusted 5.0 on the MULPSEAPH scale, which makes it just slightly less horrific than walking in on your parents getting it on.
posted by Literaryhero at 6:20 PM on July 23, 2014

I feel like this movie is a relic from some parallel earth where Pink Flamingos hadn't really caught on so John Waters tried to cash in with a Friday the 13th knockoff.

I kind of love this movie.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:09 PM on July 23, 2014 [5 favorites]

Also, they just throw in the fact that their dad is intimate with another dude without judgment or really saying anything

Maybe I'm not giving them enough credit for being forward thinking, but that wasn't my read on it. I think they threw that in there, as well as the crazy aunt "you get to be my girl" thing, as the reason for what screwed the kid up and turned him into a maladjusted mixed up murderer. This movie...sorry, just not giving it the benefit of the doubt on that. There was just so much gross, off color stuff in this movie. The 80s, man. Glad that shit is over.

Also I did a bit of research after this because I gather it's a cult movie, and people were on about the "twist" ending. How is that a twist? I thought it was an editing error because it was so obvious which kid survived the boating accident. I mean, I assumed it was an error until the end, but even still--so the fuck what? Why is the kid standing there naked? Is that supposed to be a mindfuck or something? This movie was kinda gross.
posted by Hoopo at 7:30 PM on July 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

For me, this was mostly noteworthy as an 80s relic. Angela's cousin in the cowboy hat with a feather and the football jersey? Dudes in midriff shirts? "Eat shit and die? No man: eat shit and live"? There was a certain verisimilitude to the kid interactions that showed through, even with the bad acting. (God, remember how much kids swear at each other? No? Well, fuck you and eat shit.) And I admired that. But I thought the attacks were ridiculous, and not in an awesome inventive slasher way, but in a How Could Any Self-Respecting Psychopath Feel Comfortable She'd Get Away With Those? Way. Still, the bulk of the enterprise is loony enough and singular enough that I get why it has such cult appeal.

I have been over and over that ending in my head from the very first time we bandied about watching this. I hadn't seen the film back then, but I was aware of the ending. And all I can say is holy shit. The loony aunt character is sort of interesting in a campy way, but still... there's a definite stink of "Of course Angela is a monster, she's a freaky gender-mixed up mess!" And yet, AND YET, I think the movie wants us to root for her. Throw in the part where they walk in their dad in a homosexual embrace...

I don't know. One of the reasons I was interested to see MeFi tackle this movie is because this is a place where I've learned a lot about LGBT issues from people who actually have skin in the game. I wanted to see what folks thought of this. My knee jerk reaction is that the movie is essentially saying Angela ended up a monster and killed people because DUH Dude Living Like a Lady! But even that fuckedupedness is interesting as a discussion point for a 30+ year-old film.

Having watched this, now I kinda wanna go back and watch Summer Camp Nightmare, which I dimly remember as also mixing bad acting, believably foul-mouthed and prurient kids, and half-understood plot provocations.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:12 PM on July 23, 2014

I honestly don't know what we're supposed to think about the ending, other than, "Whoa...fucked up." (To be fair, I think if the film had had a different ending, it would probably be even more obscure than it is now...possibly forgotten.) I too would like to hear the opinions of LGBT people on it, because yeah, while it's easy for me to enjoy it for its sheer bizarreness, I also realize it could be offensive to trans* folks. I don't think it's equating being trans* with psychosis, mind you; if anything, it seems to say that a person living what for them is a sexual lie can lead to Very Bad Things, which is kind of the opposite of any kind of phobic message.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:57 PM on July 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Much love for:
Random aggression at a baseball game
Random baseball game at the beginning of a horror movie
Classic loafers, no socks look. So terrible.
Gaylicious crop tops sported by the guys
Judy is at least 28, right?
Yeah, that poking is gonna take someone's eye out, alright. Holy shit, the POKING. 
Conserving water after a killing. 
In a camp full of weirdly aggressive kids, there's only one candy wrapper in the woods. 

The worm when the first kid drowned. Ughhh. 
Yes, let's go the lake, where someone was murdered. Not a bad idea at allll. 
Wait, who got the damn flag? I never saw the end of the game. 
Damn, Meg. How hard-up are you????
I'm not sure WTF happened with the curling iron but for the love of all that's holy, nobody tell me!
OMG. That ending. I'm choking with laughter. The head atop a completely different body, the very bad special effects. Just, wow.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 9:24 PM on July 23, 2014

I'm not sure WTF happened with the curling iron but for the love of all that's holy, nobody tell me!

I almost forgot about that. That was really disturbing to me because what you don't want to think happened there actually happened in the building next door to where I lived IRL when I was like 8 years old. That freaked me the hell out and I was pretty glad we moved soon after.
posted by Hoopo at 9:29 PM on July 23, 2014

Hoopo, I was on the fence of how to take the dad's sex scene, but because of all those guys in short, tight shorts I decided to go the other way and assume the filmmakers were saying 'hey, it is ok to look at and like dudes if you are also a dude'. I could be totally reading it wrong, though, and I am by no means an expert on the issue so apologies in advance if I am being insensitive.

Of course it is never ideal to put these scenes in a film where they can easily be misinterpreted, so in that light I guess it probably wasn't very well thought out by the director.
posted by Literaryhero at 9:33 PM on July 23, 2014

You may be right, but then I also sorta remember dudes dressing like that in the 80s. Short shorts and belly shirts and stuff. Did I mention I am glad the 80s are over?
posted by Hoopo at 9:40 PM on July 23, 2014

I feel like the gay scene was really just a throwaway. It was too G-rated. I would expect more to have happened there if the film makers were portraying that as a negative. If anything, it's a positive because it happened when Peter's dad was still alive. The bad things started after the accident

That is truly disturbing, Hoopo.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 10:00 PM on July 23, 2014

The whole film definitely pings my gaydar, especially in comparison with the rest of the horror milieu. Although they're not that strong, the sequels are interesting in contrast, boobs-a-popping everywhere.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:44 PM on July 23, 2014

I don't know what I think about this one. My thoughts, as the film progressed, were along these lines:

- Whoa, that is some BAD acting. Like, Pink Flamingos-level acting
- More short shorts?
- Seriously, these shorts are insane
- What a weird word 'shorts' is when you say it over and over
- Gee, there sure are some backwards attitudes in this movie
- Wow, that is an amazing crop top, dude. You should be proud
- This is not a very good film. Why do people reference it so often?
- OH. I just realised I already know the surprise ending of this film because I saw the final 'shock' image in some 'Top Ten Twists You Didn't See Coming' listicle somewhere. Disappointing
- Hmm
- BEES. I love a scene that involves people being murdered via the domestic honey bee
- I don't really understand what this film is trying to tell me about gender or sexual orientation, but I have a vague sense that if I DID understand, I wouldn't like it
- And... there it is. Well, well, well

So I guess I'm glad I saw it? I finally know what people are talking about, and I liked the bees.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 12:43 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

> I feel like this movie is a relic from some parallel earth where Pink Flamingos hadn't really caught on so John Waters tried to cash in with a Friday the 13th knockoff.

Oh hey, snap.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 12:44 AM on July 24, 2014

Having watched this, now I kinda wanna go back and watch Summer Camp Nightmare, which I dimly remember as also mixing bad acting, believably foul-mouthed and prurient kids, and half-understood plot provocations.

Summer Camp Nightmare is basically this minus the horror elements and the most outrageously technically bad stuff, plus some Lord of the Flies. It's like Heavyweights played in the style of Sleepaway Camp.

I have lots of thoughts on this movie (which I love, as a fan of bad horror cinema it is a precious, beautiful gift), but I'm going to focus on one thing for now (Ik ben afgesneden mentioned it above): Mel and Meg. Mel and Meg. SITTIN' IN A TREE.

Was it a casting mishap that really should have required a script re-write to make any sense? Because it's not presented as if it's a joke of some kind...It really looks like a romantic relationship between a teenage girl and a 65 year old man. Right out in the open, and no one cares.
posted by doctornecessiter at 5:10 AM on July 24, 2014

Was it a casting mishap that really should have required a script re-write to make any sense? Because it's not presented as if it's a joke of some kind...It really looks like a romantic relationship between a teenage girl and a 65 year old man. Right out in the open, and no one cares.

To be fair, this is the same movie where the cook is just a straight up pedophile and everybody laughs it off. "They call 'em baldies, where I come from"? I mean Jesus, someone really should report that. I'm looking at you, James Earl Jones's dad.

My favorite aspect of the Meg and Mel thing, though, is that Mel is so frustrated by the fact that he can't sleep with a teenager that he straight up tries to murder a child. I mean, I get that he was excited, but that's an overreaction.

Other thoughts:
I know it's been said, but this the acting in this is terrible. At it's best it manages to be merely seem like the acting in a commercial. Half the time, it seems like a high school play.

It really bugs me that the Dad capsizes his boat and then proceeds to splash about playfully until he dies. Teach your children proper boating safety, people.

As to the way it approaches trans issues, I think the movie can be rehabilitated, somewhat, on that point, by the fact that Angela isn't really trans, and what warps her is being denied the right to express (his) actual gender identity, but I'm not sure it's worth rehabilitating on that point: the final shot, with Angela growling, looking deranged and revealing her penis ? I can't imagine that would make me feel anything other than shitty and attacked if I were trans.

That said, what I think the movie does actually do well, is get us to sympathize with Angela's being bullied. It really pulls no punches there, and I found a lot of the bullying genuinely uncomfortable to watch. The murders were rather tame in comparison.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:37 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

How many deaths does it take to close down a camp and call out more than one cop?
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 5:48 AM on July 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

This movie is absolutely horrible and very backward about gender/LGBT issues, but it's worth it all for Angela's crazy aunt's acting choices. You can see that actress going for...something...and though it never turns into a believable human being doing things that people from Earth do, it's fascinating to watch. It's just All The Acting put into the most mundane dialog, especially at the beginning.
posted by xingcat at 5:55 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just looked into the director a bit. I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised and find out he was a gay man and that the "follow the short shorts" theory had some support to it. In that case, maybe the more forgiving interpretations of the LGBT content could hold more water. Turns out the director is married to a woman and has three kids.

OTOH, a skimming of the plot to the sequel he directed shows a bunch more pseudo-homoerotic content, including a guy who falls face first into another's crotch, earning the nickname "Blowjob." A group of bullies strips a guy nude. And yeah, there's another "shocker" Angela Baker ending.

I don't know if Robert Hiltzik is closeted, obsessed with gay panic, or what. But I am positive he needs therapy.

Got to about 7:08 in this clip for the "shock" ending to Return to Sleepaway Camp.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:07 AM on July 24, 2014

Having watched 30 seconds of Return to Sleepaway Camp, I'm forced to reconsider just how bad I think the acting in the original movie is. That's really a new floor.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:39 AM on July 24, 2014

There's a moment when they first arrive at camp and there are just a bunch of boys standing on the roof of a cabin. Because this is a world where, you know, teenage boys, goats, whatever.

I was fascinated by this film when I saw it. Still am.
posted by maxsparber at 6:43 AM on July 24, 2014

The cop's electrical tape mustache is the secret MVP of this movie. That and Judy's tshirt.
posted by troika at 7:33 AM on July 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

I have a real problem connecting names with faces on real people, much less movie characters, so Judy's T-shirt is a clutch move from a director catering to my specific needs.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:35 AM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Would you like to see a terrible, 15 minute long short film by the guy behind the Sleepaway Camp fan site in which Karen Fields reprises her role as Judy?

posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:30 AM on July 24, 2014

So far, this short film is an interesting exercise in blending genre tropes, with the caveat that the genres are: horror movie, ambulance chasing lawyer ad, and domestic violence PSA.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:40 AM on July 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

I believe the name for this style of cinematography is "My cousin has a camcorder and for lighting, we'll just shoot it in my kitchen with all the lights on 'high'!"
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:00 AM on July 24, 2014

I'm not educated enough in music to be able to nail this one down articulately, hopefully someone here can understand what I'm about to babble on about, but there's a certain kind of pop song style/progression that was applied to a few 80s slasher movies' tie-in songs...Off the top of my head I can think of this one ("Angela's Theme") and the title theme to The Final Terror (here's the whole damn movie, just pay attention to the opening credits)...And Weird Al nailed it with his "Nature Trail to Hell".

I'm sure the various synth riffs were attempts to re-create the magic of "Tubular Bells" in The Exorcist and the Halloween theme, and maybe a little emulation of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, and then adding a certain dramatic pop flavor to all of that. These three I've cited sound very samey to me, in a way that wouldn't necessarily specifically say "horror movie soundtrack" -- apart from some of the instrumentation, and Weird Al's lyrics and sound effects, of course -- to me in their fundamentals, except that they all are also very of an era associated with cheap teen-oriented horror cinema.
posted by doctornecessiter at 9:04 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Goblin's spoundtrack to Suspiria may be the pinnacle of that style. And really coming in 1977 as it did, it's the one that likely inspired many that came after, though it was certainly inspired itself by "Tubular Bells."

In addition to that samey-sounding synth progression you mentioned, the theme to Suspiria also has mocking/chanting/whispering demonic voices, percussion that sometimes seems to be banging on garbage cans, and voices shouting "WITCH!" In short, it is deeply awesome.

IIRC, the soundtrack to either Waxwork or Waxwork II: Lost in Time (both of which I really enjoy) rips this theme off shamelessly.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:12 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

(And we can't forget Jeff Hayes' theme song to Judy, a mini-movie by Jeff Hayes.)
posted by doctornecessiter at 9:18 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

That little short movie was probably more fun to make than it is to watch. And good on that guy for finding his weird favorite thing and just freaking running with it. I may not personally dig it, but I salute him all the same.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:19 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Not to go off topic, but re: Suspiria, let me also say that I regularly check and r/fullmoviesonyoutube for Suspiria, and the very instant it shows up with better availability, I assure you it will go to the top of the queue for this club.

Also, re: HorrorClub bidness... John Dies at the End is the next pick. I'll post the FFTalk announcement as soon as my 24 hour clock is refreshed.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:25 AM on July 24, 2014

I actually own the BOX SET of the Sleepaway Camp movies, and the two sequels (plus a partially filmed 4th movie) are SO MUCH WORSE than this one. AND they star Bruce Springsteen's sister as Angela!
posted by leesh at 10:39 AM on July 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Why is the kid standing there naked? Is that supposed to be a mindfuck or something?

Funny, you mentioned that Hoopo. I keep coming back to that. Even assuming we take the least problematic interpretation of Angela and her motives, how does she get to the point where "And then when I kill this last dude, I'll just stand naked hissing and expose my genitals" makes any sense, even to a psychopath? They could have at least written it into more of a "skinny dipping gone wrong" psychopath moment, so there'd be a frigging reason for the exposure.

And the hissing! WTF with the hissing!
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:44 AM on July 24, 2014

I thought I was the only one that didn't like the sequels...I've heard them praised as highly as you can praise movies in such a low-bar series, but I thought that the intentional attempts at comedy cancelled out any scares, and since they weren't funny either I was just bored.
posted by doctornecessiter at 10:45 AM on July 24, 2014

File under Least Surprising News Ever, but a reboot is in development.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:50 AM on July 24, 2014

Doesn't Angela say that they should go swimming with their clothes off? I figured the nudity was fairly well explained by the combination of teenagers and night swimming. I assumed the implied story was that they went swimming, he saw Angela's penis, freaked out, and she murdered him. Indeed, a part of the problem with the ending is that it sets up a fairly realistic situation where (in the real world) transgendered women are often the victims of violence, and flips it around to make the cisgendered person the victim of violence.

The fact that she remains naked and screaming while people stare at her is less explicable.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:54 AM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Well, what would be the point of screaming nakedly unless you have an audience?
posted by maxsparber at 10:57 AM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

how does she get to the point where "And then when I kill this last dude, I'll just stand naked hissing and expose my genitals" makes any sense, even to a psychopath?

I've often wondered how much thought Robert Hiltzik actually put into the staging of this ending. It's so freaking bizarre that it works in totally creeping me out, but the ineptness of the entire movie suggests that he might not have known that it would come across as bizarre at all, other than the content of the "twist". Maybe he dramatically misread a medical journal somewhere and he thinks that transgender murderers tend to make that face and hiss, and therefore he thought that was the best way to make sure that absolutely no one misses what's being revealed...?

Or, he may have known that all of this would come across as this strange from the beginning, it was intentional and he's some kind of mad genius.
posted by doctornecessiter at 10:58 AM on July 24, 2014

Doesn't Angela say that they should go swimming with their clothes off? I figured the nudity was fairly well explained by the combination of teenagers and night swimming.

Upon rewatching, this seems to be exactly what happened. My bad. Most likely, I didn't see that part because my eyes were rolling so hard by then, they were gazing back into my brain. Though the look on Angela's face as they strip indicates she's already planning to kill him. Actually, the way you had it (maybe he saw her penis, freaked and she killed him) would have been better, because it would again tilt toward some degree of empathy for Angela as a trans person. The way it actually plays out is more like, "Your life just got horrible, because not only do I have a penis, but I'm also going to kill you!"
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:58 AM on July 24, 2014

Also: were we supposed to know it was Angela or was that supposed to be a surprise too? I honestly can't tell if that was meant to be a "secret" until the big reveal.
posted by Hoopo at 11:33 AM on July 24, 2014

The only other suspect even halfway entertained was Ricky. Prolific swearing and boob fixation aside, he's still a pretty gee whiz milquetoast of a kid, so that was laughable. Is this the face of a killer?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:40 AM on July 24, 2014

I just can't recall them ever showing Angela actually killing someone--it seemed very deliberate in obscuring who was doing the killing, just arms and shadows. There was the canoe scene where you saw the long dark hair though which pretty much ruled out Ricky--his hair was long too, but not THAT long.
posted by Hoopo at 11:45 AM on July 24, 2014

Hoopo: You may be right, but then I also sorta remember dudes dressing like that in the 80s. Short shorts and belly shirts and stuff. Did I mention I am glad the 80s are over?

Yes. I grew up in the 80s and definitely had short shorts (those were all you could get, to be fair), half shirts (no excuse, really) and a Def Leppard legionnaire's cap for some reason (I did not like Def Leppard). It was a confusing time to be a dude wearing clothes.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:15 PM on July 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

I just can't recall them ever showing Angela actually killing someone--it seemed very deliberate in obscuring who was doing the killing, just arms and shadows.

They never did. They showed only the killer's hands. And my wife said, immediately, inadvertently spoiling the whole thing, "Those aren't a girl's hands." Which, yes, correct. Somewhere in the DVD and/or Blu-ray supplements, it's explained that Felissa Rose's mother forbid her to participate in the filming of the murder scenes, thus Jonathan Tiersten's hands (I think) were used as stand-ins. If you watch it carefully, it is pretty clear that those are not Angela's hands. And then there's that scene toward the ending where you see The Killer in a doorway in silhouette and it's obviously Tiersten rather than Rose. Some pretty sloppy stuff in here, but it's a potent ending — and not diminished much, I don't think, by the amount of time a contemporary audience might spend trying to unpack the film's payload wrt gender roles, transphobia, etc. If anything it makes the whole experience more discomfitting, which is kind of the point. Not a good movie at all, but a very interesting one.

OMG. That ending. I'm choking with laughter. The head atop a completely different body, the very bad special effects. Just, wow.

I disagree with this completely. That's a terrific image and a very successful special effect, especially because you can't figure out at first why it looks so weird. (It was a naked drunk college student wearing a frozen-grimaced life mask of Felissa Rose over his head!) It's one of those few pre-CG images that totally lives in the uncanny valley.
posted by Mothlight at 5:04 PM on July 24, 2014

How much of Felissa Rose's adult life do you think has been spent at cons having people beg, "Do the face!"?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:45 PM on July 24, 2014

there's a definite stink of "Of course Angela is a monster, she's a freaky gender-mixed up mess!"

On a related note, there's the book Flavor Of The Month by Olivia Goldsmith. SPOILERS CONTINUE AFTER THIS PARAGRAPH, IF THAT'S AN ISSUE FOR YOU.

The book is about three actresses in the "hit" TV show of the season, all three of which have juicy tabloid spoilers about them (one is sleeping with a guy she thinks is her biological brother, another has had an amazing amount of plastic surgery to look 12 years younger and unrecognizable as her old self). The third is the child of Hollywood stars. Lila....well, it's indicated early on that she's had a boob job at 16 and takes hormones and her mother wants to marry her off to a gay guy ASAP so he won't want to sleep with her, but you find yourself forgetting about all of that because the plot moves on pretty far from there. Lila is one of the biggest assholes in the book, bar none. She's pretty much incapable of loving or being nice. She's a colossal user and abuser.

But when you find out WHY....well, she had a horribly fucked up childhood, her gay dad wasn't up to parenting and her mother was nuts AND she created a rivalry between Lila and her two puppets that was even worse than anything Candice Bergen ever went through.... And even worse: Lila may not have even been born trans* at all. Her mother decided that her husband couldn't deal with a son and combined with the kid having one undescended testicle, well, she'd just have a girl then. So Lila was forced into a gender, she had this huge secret she couldn't tell, she couldn't really get into relationships even if she wanted any and she hated everyone around her. NO BLOODY WONDER YOU'RE SCREWED UP, EH? Though in this case, it's not just the gender, it's the crazy and the manipulation and lack of love and straight up mental abuse too. The gender's part of it, but Lila probably would have come out horribly batshit as a Lyle, too.

I kind of wish I could see a movie of this book, but there's just no way in hell you could do the casting for Mary Jane/Jahne (the one with the surgery), and Lila herself might be hard to cast as well.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:31 PM on July 24, 2014

Man, this was kind of painful. A few observations, though:

- The guy who plays Mel, the camp owner, is head and shoulders above everyone else in this when it comes to acting, even with the crazy amount of scenery he chews. Even his death is a fairly well executed practical effect.

- The shorts, the mesh shirts, the crop tops... This must have been the kind of "camp" Susan Sontag wrote about.

- Everyone's horrible. The actors are horrible actors, and the characters are horrible human beings.

- Those Noo Yawk accents, though.

- What the hell is preening-aunt-who-vaguely-looks-like-seventies-Zooey-Deschanel going for? I'm sure she's going for something, with the mannered speaking patterns and the constant pensative touching her chin, but fuck if I can figure out what it is.

- There's one pair of stereotypical slasher movie big boobs in this movie, but they're on the bodybuilder guy, who survives.

- These are the most negligent camp counselors ever, to the point of just laughing off the weird comments of an obvious pedophile employee.

- The mustache! I'm guessing the guy who played the cop shaved between his scenes.

- The hissing mask face thing is genuinely disturbing, and feels like an entirely different movie.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:17 AM on July 25, 2014

Oh, and there's a lot of weird sexual stuff going on in this movie. The two giggling toddlers watching their father embraced by another man in bed as a traumatizing event is kind of absurd (and the kids don't look horrified or shocked at all).

Then there's the obvious pedophile everyone's ok with, and Mel's abortive dinner date with Meg, of course, where she seems genuinely excited to go on a date with the cigar-chomping stereotype who's a good 40 years older than her.

On the other hand, Mel's selection of cargo shorts and socks make up for a lot. That man's wardrobe is a dead ringer for what my grandfather wore in summer in the early 80s.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:23 AM on July 25, 2014

the characters are horrible human beings.

Pretty sure there were 2 counsellors that were OK. One of the female ones with the big feathery 80s hair was nice to Angela, and there was also the super muscly dude counsellor that seemed to be nice. Can't recall if they did anything to change that by the end.
posted by Hoopo at 8:36 AM on July 25, 2014

Yeah. Long Island Bodybuilder Jewish Counselor was a nice person. Dimly recall Feathery Haired Nice Female Counselor.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:31 AM on July 25, 2014

I love that scene where two folks are chatting in the foreground and Long Island Muscle Guy is just standing in the field in the background lifting weights. I can't even remember what that scene was about, I was so distracted by his weird placement.
posted by troika at 10:58 AM on July 25, 2014

I kind of really want to cover Sleepaway Camp 2 just to talk about how the camp owner there seems to try on a different accent every scene, from sad old British man to proud, genteel Southerner.
posted by yellowbinder at 11:04 AM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well, that was the gayest movie I've seen in a while, and I just watched Pit Stop last week. It's impossible for me to think the man who directed that movie wasn't at least bi. The way he showed off male bodies? That's kind of unique in horror movies to that point, isn't it?

And did anyone else catch that after the kids see dad and his boyfriend in bed, they're in bed and starting to touch each other, too? That's what Angela's remembering when the sweet boy is trying to unbutton her shirt. So much creepiness.

The interviews at have some gems, including this bit of real-life horror from cousin Ricky that expands on what Mothlight said above about that transphobic-but-unforgettable final scene:

JH: What about the classic shocker ending? Was that Felissa standing behind a dummy-made body?
JT: No...That was actually a college kid that wore a plaster mask of Angela's face over his...and had his body shaved. I remember he didn't want to do was very cold that night...and he was like crying...but he needed the money.

Good lord. And here's cousin Ricky on the director not being gay:

JH: Rumors have surfaced that Robert [the director] may have been gay (because of the theme of the movie) and that he himself dressed in drag to play Aunt Martha??
JT: No way! He was certainly not gay...he very much liked his women. And It was a WOMAN who played Aunt Martha...she was a weird lady in real life too!

And the director himself with an unsatisfying answer:

Other popular questions in Texas involved the film's "Homo-Erotic" Vibe. This seems to be a very popular area of intrigue, as I have received numerous e-mails over the years about it also. What was all the "Gay" undertone stuff all about?? Was it some sort of hidden message or gay statement? An audience member noted that the film was full of "naked men running around and being in bed together." To Robert the answer was simple and in 3 words he explained the whole "gay" nature of the film to answer that question: "That's called foreshadowing!"

And, of course, the mustache story.
posted by mediareport at 8:54 PM on July 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

[By the way, just want to note Pit Stop is actually a really sweet love story about two men in a small Texas town with complicated private lives who don't actually meet until 65 minutes into the 75-minute-long movie and who consistently just miss each other at the local gas station (i.e., pit stop). It's not perfect but it's the best queer flick I've seen since 2011's fantastic Tomboy, and not at all what some of you were probably thinking when I said "Pit Stop," you dirty-minded savages, you.]
posted by mediareport at 9:02 PM on July 28, 2014

I spent a lot of time thinking about this movie 15 years ago, and I can pretty confidently say that Ricky had to have killed at least some of the victims.
posted by one_bean at 2:17 PM on October 23, 2014

That is a theory I would love to hear.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:09 PM on October 25, 2014

The timing doesn't make sense for a single killer. On the final night, the six little kids are out camping, and two of them asked to be taken back to camp. Their counselor has to drive them back. When he finally returns to the campsite, the four that stayed were killed with an ax. At the exact same moment, Judy meets her untimely end with her curling iron. No way that Angela could be in those two places simultaneously.

The canoe death has to be Ricky, too, because of Angela's fear of water. About 59 minutes in, there's a scene where Meg and Judy threaten to throw Angela in, and she totally loses it. Makes sense, given the boating accident. Meantime, Mel specifically says that he saw Ricky in the locations where the first few murders occurred.

All of the hints that Ricky is the "real" killer and protecting Angela are not red herrings, but actually confirming that he is willing to kill for her (e.g., his threatening the kids who throw sand at her).

The capture the flag scene is the other evidence. There's no reason to include that if not to show that they clearly work well together to plan out complicated movements.
posted by one_bean at 12:38 PM on November 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think that would be a fantastic explanation for what the intent of a careful, shrewd, intelligent filmmaker who had carefully considered all of the possible angles would be.

I am not, however, even a little convinced that the filmmaker in question is that person.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:38 AM on November 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Well, at the very least, you could argue one_bean's theory offers a fascinating glimpse into the movie the director's subconscious mind *wanted* to make.

Btw, has anyone else seen the Australian horror flick Found? I laughed, I cringed, I got bored, I gagged at the eyeball scene. It's quite a gruesome look at suburban family life, with a couple of truly awful sexualized torture-porny scenes that left me deeply unsettled, but it's got some decent satire and thoughtfulness going for it as well. It's 15-20 minutes too long, with one too many pre-teen angst scenes involving the young protagonist, and one kinda lame motivation for the older brother/killer (luckily his other motivation works better), but overall I'm pretty sure most Horror Club folks would like it.

There were surprisingly positive reviews from outlets not usually known for gushing praise of vomit-inducing indie horror, like Hollywood Reporter ("River’s Edge meets Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer") and Variety ("solid performances, production values and general polish keep “Found” compelling, on occasion arresting"), and a more reserved take from Bloody Disgusting.

It's one of those horror films I'd hesitate to recommend to folks who might be appalled at the bloodily orgasmic film-within-a-film scenes, but if you're interested in indie horror this one is definitely worth a look. I'm not sure what I think about the news that the film-within-a-film has been Kickstarted into its own separate movie, except to note I definitely won't be seeing it.
posted by mediareport at 5:09 PM on November 3, 2014

I am not, however, even a little convinced that the filmmaker in question is that person.

Ha, me neither! What I love about this film is that there's so much weirdness in it you can read a lot without ascribing any intent. So many deaths in this movie, why not include the author.
posted by one_bean at 5:17 PM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

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