Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sleepaway Camp Blu-Ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
On May 27, 2014, Scream Factory invites loyal fans and horror enthusiasts to relive the thrills and suspense of this all-time 80s cult slasher classic when Sleepaway Camp Collector’s Edition Blu-ray arrives, packed with insightful bonus content and all-new interviews. It takes place at Camp Arawak, where teenagers learn to experience the joys of nature, as well as each other. But when these happy campers begin to die in a series of horrible “accidents”, they discover that someone – or something – has turned their summer of fun into a vacation to dismember. Hailed by fans and critics alike as one of the all-time greatest twisted endings in horror film cinema, this film spawned a sleuth of popular Sleepaway Camp sequels.

Film (3 out of 5 stars)
It’s funny how movies that terrified you as a child turn out to be some of the worst-acted, terrible script movies you watch as an adult.  I was eight years old the first time I say Sleepaway Camp at a birthday slumber party.  It’s a film that my parents would never have let me watch, but at a birthday party, somehow it seemed more appropriate, though I am certain my parents wouldn’t have agreed.  The subtle sexual hints and the language were all highly inappropriate for an eight-year-old in the early 1980s.  But, I have vivid memories of being so scared that I slept on the floor in my parents’ room in my Strawberry Shortcake sleeping bag and telling my mother I didn’t want to go away to camp.

Angela lost her family in a boating accident when she was a child.  After the accident, she went to live with her cousin Ricky and his mother.  Eight years later, Ricky and Angela go away for the summer to Camp Arawak… a camp where the help is creepy and the other kids are jerks.  Introvert Angela says very little and doesn’t participate in any activities.  Ricky keeps an eye on her while also taking part in all the summer activities. 

Soon after arriving, Angela’s introvertedness becomes cause for torment.  Her cabin mates wonder why she doesn’t shower when they shower, why she doesn’t go swimming, but mostly why she doesn’t say hardly anything at all.  One boy, Ricky’s friend, Paul, however, seems to break through the shell and Angela and he begin a summer fling.  Even still, Angela is still picked on and teased. As the summer goes on, the staff members, councilors and kids who tease and torment Angela begin having convenient accidents in the lake, around the cabins, even at a camp out.  But no one knows who it is.  Is it Ricky?  Is it Angela?  Or some other unseen villain… and why are these people the ones dying?

Sleepaway Camp is another film to add to your 1980s horror movie night.  The acting is typical 80s, the storyline is 80s slasher and there’s quite the reveal in the last 30 seconds.  The comparison to a more recent movie would absolutely spoil it, so let’s just say, if you’re not paying attention, you won’t see it coming.  Felissa Rose is creepy as Angela, the quiet, traumatized girl.  All the actors were good in their roles and it was a blast from the terrifying past to rewatch one of the movies that scared me as a child. 
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
Sleepaway Camp is presented in 1080p high-definition widescreen (1.78:1) and the transfer is good.  The picture is clear and easily viewed.  As most of the film is in the dark, there is a lot of black and shadows.  These were also clear and blended well together.  Colors were bright and muted appropriately and blood was not too unbelievable.  Sleepaway Camp was good to watch on Blu-ray.
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
The DTS-HD master audio mono presentation of Sleepaway Camp was also good.  I could hear all the dialogue and the background wasn’t overwhelming.  Screams weren’t too over exaggerated and the music was just creepy enough.  English subtitles are available if needed.
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
There are a bunch of features on the blu-ray disc, not all were necessary or interesting.  The most interesting was the behind-the-scenes look at the film. 
  • At the Waterfront after the Social:  The Legacy of Sleepaway Camp – A 45-minute behind-the-scenes look at the film with interviews with cast and crew.  I really enjoyed watching this feature.  It was super interesting and I liked hearing from everyone how they became involved with the film, their experiences on set and how everyone got along.
  • Judy:  A short film by Jeff Hayes (starring Karen Fields) – A mini movie based on the character of Judy and what happened to her after she was rescued from Camp Arawak.  This was really weird and awkward.
  • Princess: A Music Video by Jonathan Tiersten – The music video for the song The Princess.  It sounded like an American Idol audition and over auto-tuned.  The song didn’t even make sense.
  • Camp Arawak Scrapbook – A photo slide show of the cast from the filming of the movie.  It’s just the photos with no background music.  I thought the slideshow could have gone faster… the photos took too long to change from one to the next.
  • Theatrical Trailer and TV Spots – The trailer and commercials for the film.  The narrator for these spots was really creepy.  And all the spots were pretty much the same.
  • Rare Images from Make-up Effects Artist Ed French – Story boards and drawings of the special effects used in the film.  Set as a slide show with no background music.
  • A Demonstration of the 2K Film Scan Process – A look at how Sleepaway Camp was scanned from the original 1983 film and remastered.  This was hard to understand what they were doing because there wasn’t really an explanation of what was going on… there was a guy explaining what he was doing, but not really why he was doing it.  It’s really technical and I found myself really bored.
  • Under the “Audio” tab:
    • Commentary with actors Felissa Rose and Jonathan Tiersten
    • Commentary with writer/director Robert Hiltzik, moderated by Jeff Hayes
    • Commentary with writer/director Robert Hiltzik and star Felissa Rose
Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
Sleepaway Camp instills so much fear in me that I still don’t want to go away to camp.  My one foray into sleepaway camp was in the sixth grade and was only for one week.  I was so scared on a night hike that a councilor had to take me back to camp and I had an extra night of square dancing.  I can’t even imagine being sent away for the whole summer.  Sleepaway Camp is a film that likely kept many kids away from summer camp over the years.  This film is nothing like the camp in The Parent Trap.  Keep your kids at home and teach them not to make fun of the quiet chick… you never know what she’s hiding or who is protecting her.

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