Sleepaway Camp title

AKA Nightmare Vacation

Tag line : ...You won't be going home.

Sleepaway CampOriginally released in the UK under the title "Nightmare Vacation", this was one of many early 80's slasher films to quickly follow in the wake of Friday the 13th's popularity.

Set at a kids summer camp (how original) the film centres around young orphan Angela Baker (Fellissa Rose) who's there with her cousin Ricky (Johnathon Tierston). Trouble flares when some spiteful teenagers start harassing poor Angela, only to go missing shortly afterwards, and turning up dead in a variety of nasty ways. As does anybody else who happens to upset her.

Suspicion falls upon her overly protective cousin, but fearing claims of a serial killer will be bad for business, the camps owner tries to pass of the recent misfortunes as being a series of bad accidents. But as more bodies pile up in increasingly suspicious circumstances, including the chef being drenched in scalding water, and one nasty girl being brutally knifed in the shower "Psycho" style, it looks like a killer is indeed at work.

Not as good as the other films of this ilk from around that era, this is an enjoyable enough slasher pic, though it pails in comparison to Friday the 13th. It does however manage to pull off one of the most bizarre plot twists ever during the films climax.

Overall marks : 5/10.

Terrifying Trivia.

  • The US DVD box set issued in 2003 was originally made to look like a 1st aid kit, but had to be changed following complaints from the US Red Cross.

  • The part of "Judy" was originally offered to Jane Krakowski (Elaine from Ally McBeal).

  •  A grisly scene showing Judy's dead body was reportedly cut out to secure an R rating with the US censors board.

  • The camp caretaker Ben was played by Robert Earl Jones, who's the father of James Earl Jones (Darth Vader's voice)

  • The film was originally heavily cut for it's UK release under the title "Nightmare Vacation", in which the BBFC removed  57 seconds of footage prior to awarding it an 18 certificate. This toned down most of the gore, as well as shortening the sequence of the scalded chef lying on the floor and a close up of Meg's dead body after she slumps out of the shower.

  • The films budget was $350,000

  • The US DVD issued by Anchor Bay in 2003, missed out, or shortened, several key scenes. Namely, where Kenny's dead body is discovered in the canoe, and when Meg's body is found in the shower, as well as toning down Ricky's swearing and shortening the scene where the guys go skinny dipping, prior to them jumping in the water. The baseball game scene  was also shortened as was Mozart's practical joke in the dorm room. It has been suggested that the print used for this transfer was taken from an unused TV version of the film.

  • This was the last film character actor Mike Kellin, who plays the camp own Mel, appeared in. He died the year of the films release in 1983 of cancer.

  • The UK DVD release by Anchor Bay, under the title "Sleepaway Camp" re-instated the previous BBFC cuts made to the "Nightmare Vacation" release but was struck from the same version as the cut US DVD, so is missing the same snippets as the US release. However, the UK DVD contains the missing scenes from the original theatrical version as a bonus "easter egg" feature.

  • The original US theatrical version, which contains the scenes missing from the current US DVD was available on US video by "Media". A bootleg Canadian DVD of this by "Entertainment" distributors  has also been released.

  • The film has spawned 2 sequels so far, with Pamela Springsteen in the role of Angela, as well as an aborted 4th film entitled "The Survivor" with B-movie actress Carrie Chambers taking the lead. The footage of this film has only been released in special US DVD box sets of the Sleepaway Camp films available only in "Best Buy" stores. A fifth movie entitled "The Return" is currently in production with original cast members Fellisa Rose and Johnathon Tierston.

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