Friday, April 17, 2009

Sleepaway Camp (Robert Hiltzik, 1983)

Fraught with an enumerable amount of unforeseen dangers, the summer camp is where the under fourteen set go to put their still developing organic structures at risk in order to weed out the weak and feeble in the human community. Drowning in freshwater lakes, coming to grips with your levelheaded love of teenage boys in tight jean shorts, and getting brutally murdered while bathing are just a few of the everyday hazards that stand in the way of the camping characters in Robert Hiltzik's wonderfully askew Sleepaway Camp, a film that appears to be your typical piece of slasher tripe - a faceless killer starts bumping off staff and campers. However, since no one is slaughtered in a conventional manner, that means camp life goes on pretty much like normal as the body count increases. It should be said, that underneath all the unorthodox stalking lies an undercurrent that moans pure homo-eroticism. This manly tinge comes to light during the softball game; as the older male campers flaunt their taut physiques in barely there sportswear. One can only imagine how sweaty their not-quite fully engorged genitalia must have been confined in those little shorts. My imagination, as one might expect, couldn't stop picturing their tightly packed cocks and penises pressed hard up against that untamed furry region of flesh just below the navel. The amount of accidental fiction going on down there must have been off the charts in terms of... Anyway, this man/boy display is pretty consistent throughout the film.

The deceptively serene Camp Arawak is bursting with pounds of fresh meat (as pointed out by the aggressively creepy cook), but the film focuses mainly on two fresh-faced cousins named Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten) and Angela (Felissa Rose), the latter who lost her father eight years ago in a freak boating accident. The scrappy Ricky, self-assured and hat confident (no hat is unwearable in his mind), finds life at the lake to be a breeze. On the other hand, the tranquil Angela, shy and withdrawn, is immediately seen as a threat by the shrewish Judy (Karen Fields) and Meg (Katherine Kamhi).

Now, you'd think these two brunettes would get along with a fellow dark haired lass (discuss the benefits of having your carpet match your drapes and hairbrush etiquette in the late twentieth century), but Angela's penchant for not verbalizing words and staring blanking into a gelatinous void rubs the two comely vixens the wrong way.

The fact that Paul (Christopher Collet) has taken a liking to Angela doesn't help matters; and it's not as if Paul is super hunky or anything, it's just that Judy ("How come Angela gets to talk to the boys all day, and we have to play volleyball?") and Meg ("That's Meg: M-E-G.") don't like it when boys find girls who are not them to be worthy of an awkward grope.

The rivalry between these three brunette girls is what actually separates Sleepaway Camp from being your average kill festival (kill-fest or kill-o-rama), not the fact that a curling iron is employed as a weapon or that boiling hot water is used to scold human flesh when it should be cooking a shitload of corn (the killer had the misfortune of poring it on a real screamer).

Giving performances that transcend your usual girls in red short shorts behaving catty in a wilderness setting, Felissa Rose, Karen Fields, and Katherine Kamhi managed to destroy my ability to think objectively with the sheer power of their cognitive process.

Tall like a glass of water that is large in size, Katherine Kamhi's Meg utters put-downs like an underpaid dockhand and glares with the gingerly grace of a caged beast. Taking what Miss Kamhi brought to the cheaply assembled table and somehow managing to out-bitch her, Karen Fields is unpleasantness personified as the hateful Judy. A scurrilous harpy, who sports one of the best "no one will fuck me" faces I have ever seen, Miss Fields takes hose-beastery to a whole new level of skankishness.

Channeling the likes of Catherine Deneuve and Maria Falconetti, Felissa Rose sits and stares as if her life depended on it. Boasting the stillness of a statue, yet always appearing as though she is utterly alive, Felissa gives an outstanding performance as the aloof Angela. Maybe it was the largeness of her gaze, or maybe it was the way she sat; either way, Felissa is mesmerizing from start to finish (and boy, what a finish).

Even though she only appears briefly, the performance from Sleepaway Camp that I will treasure the most is the one given by the gorgeous Desiree Gould as Aunt Martha. Leaving you wanting more, I was in total awe of what she managed to accomplish in just two mere scenes. Awash with kinky mannerisms, and an even kinkier wardrobe (her red and blue head covering was sublime, and her white pantyhose were absolutely to die for), Desiree creates a character so memorable, that all I could think about afterward was how amazing it would be if she was my aunt or frequent sex partner. The prospect of going on an outdoor picnic with her sends my spirit to a magical place, a place without gender rules and one that lacks pesky dress codes. I get giddy just thinking about all the normal things we would do to one another.

Sexy aunts who tie string around their fingers in order to remind themselves of junk, wear brightly coloured outfits in the middle of the day, and touch their chins while answering their own questions are my new religion. Now, do I want to touch Aunt Martha inappropriately with one hand, while gently caressing the exquisite darkness of her jet black hair with the other? Hmmm? Very much so. In fact, I'm doing it right now. (It feels like heaven.)

Oh, and the only place I've come across so far (and believe me, I've looked) that has been bold enough to make the correlation between the odd mannerisms of Desiree Gould's Aunt Martha and the cinematic works of Rinse Dream is a blog called Awesomeness For Awesome's Sake.



  1. Nice review. I enjoyed this flick.

  2. I loved the review. But, that being said, how could you have written a review of this movie without mentioning "baldies"?!


  3. Well, that explains why my Aunt Martha post has been getting so much love!

    Thanks, Yum-Yum...and you really outdid yourself on this one.

    This movie is a fucking classic and it's in no small part thanks to Desiree Gould.

    Hey, maybe she could adopt us both and we'd live happily ever after smashing that silly old Parsons model with our "kinky mannerisms, and an even kinkier wardrobes!"

  4. -METALHEAD- : Thanks, -METALHEAD-

    JM: Baldies? You mean genitalia without hair? I guess I was consumed by the brunette rivalry, and Aunt Martha, that I totally forgot about the "baldies." My bad.

    Mr. Canacorn: I like to read the Desiree Gould quotes you provided in your "Aunt Martha Is Awesome" every and now then for inspiration. She's a super lady.

    It's too bad she's not in the sequels (though her name is dropped a lot in Unhappy Campers).

    Kinky mannerisms/wardrobes are, no doubt, the key to eternal happiness.

  5. I love this movie. It's one of my favorite movies I saw when I was growing up.

  6. Ever seen Sleepaway Camp 2? It's not scary, but it has more boobs then you can shake a stick at. It also has someone being drowned in an outhouse (!!!).

  7. Hey, Cliff. Yeah, I've seen Sleepaway Camp 2.

    The boobs were great, and the outhouse drowning was... quite something.

  8. The Sleepaway Camp franchise is one I can say I really love and enjoy. The first is of course the best to me. Angela Baker is my hero.

  9. This movie still traumatizes me. It really didn't need sequals.

  10. Hi YUM YUM miss your reviews. Hope everything is going well with you. Good review but i think rick and angela are cousins not brothers.