Tuesday, May 13, 2014

SLEEPAWAY CAMP (Scream Factory Blu-ray) - You May Not Be Coming Home, But That Doesn't Mean the Blu-ray Won't.

The real question on your mind should be, what is that damn song that Angela is humming ever so delicately, ever so romantically in the moonlight by the lakeside holding the one camper she'd let get close to her? Man, does that get in your head. Of course you know that's not the only thing you're going to get stuck in your head at the end of this feature (and we won't tell you what else there is to remember if you don't know). There's actually so much to enjoy in Sleepaway Camp and not just the original Hiltzik classic. Whether it's the strange choice of color that makes you feel uncomfortable, the simple but poignant score, the overacting, the underacting, the poorly drawn on mustache or maybe just the special effects creativity; believe it or not this movie actually gets under my skin.  The entire series has merit whether it be well executed horror comedy, filthy smut rehash or perhaps the worst of the worst sequels (that would be part IV). Of course there's Return to Sleepaway Camp as well which is a world all it's own. Scream Factory has started off the Summer of Fear with the most appropriate title to get you in the mood to be outdoors, in nature, watching your friends get eaten by fish or bees or boiling water.

Synopsis from Scream Factory:

After a terrible boating accident killed her family, shy Angela Baker (Felissa Rose, Return To Sleepaway Camp) went to live with her eccentric Aunt Martha and her cousin Ricky.

This summer, Martha decides to send them both to Camp Arawak, a place to enjoy the great outdoors. Shortly after their arrival, a series of bizarre and violent “accidents” begin to claim the lives of various campers. Has a dark secret returned from the camp’s past…or will an unspeakable horror end the Summer season for all?

When I was a kid, my sister and boyfriend picked up Sleepaway Camp to watch with me. We had heard that it was shocking, but of course at that point there was no internet to spoil the movie for us. The ending left us shocked. My mother even more so. I hope the trauma has wiped her memory clean. From there a jumped to Sleepaway Camp II which became my favorite. I think at first it was just the VHS cover, but I would in no way say that SCII is a better movie or scarier than Sleepaway Camp. In fact Sleepaway Camp is actually a really scary movie once you get past some of the budgetary restraints and forced dialogue. Some of it just feels so damn real. The interviews mentioned that fans complain about the baseball scene that takes FOREVER. Well, it just felt like camp to me, and has some of the greatest insults and one-liners in the entire picture. Go back and watch it again now that you're not waiting for boobies (skip to part two or three for numerous party hats).

I was amazed at how good this movie looked. I mean, I have an old DVD copy and a VHS copy of this movie, and I didn't know that it could look this good. The colors so vibrant and the picture so perfectly clear. We're about a movie that is as close to a 35mm print as you're going to get, with well truly great sound. This is a new 2K scan of the original camera negative. The slip sleeve cover contains a disc with reversible artwork, one side is the newly commissioned artwork from the extremely talented Nathan Thomas Milliner that I think really captures the key moments form the film. The other side contains the traditional knife-in-shoe pic. Each disc, the DVD and Blu-ray features the traditional cover art feature.

Extras include several commentaries with Felissa Rose (Angela) and Johnathan Tierston (new), one with Robert Hiltzik, Felissa Rose and Jeff Hayes (the guy behind the greatest Sleepaway Camp site every created). There's an interview reel with full discussions by all the important folks in the movie that is absolutely fantastic put together by Justin Beahm of Fango fame. Truly if you need an excuse to pick this disc up and the updated transfer and cool cover art isn't enough, this feature is the thing that should get you. There's a Sleepaway Camp Scrapbook, film by Jeff Hayes (Judy) which must be watched to be believed... which I'm afraid isn't entirely a good thing in this case.

I was raised on summer camp horror. Beyond Sleepaway Camp and its sequels, I think that Summer Camp Nightmare is fantastic. There's the obvious movies like Friday the 13th and its sequels or The Burning, but I never get the feeling of being at camp like the original Sleepaway Camp. The sense of dread is completely realistic even if the acting is less than real, and it's balanced with humor to keep you entertained while you're trying to figure out who the killer could possibly be. You'll think you know. You'll be right and wrong at the same time. Sleepaway Camp as released by Scream Factory might just be the feel good hit of the Summer of Fear. It's sure to shock you even if you know exactly what's going to happen. You can never prepare for THAT! Do yourself a favor and make Sleepaway Camp part of the your pre-campfire tradition. Hey, at least if you don't come home, you'll have seen the movie can say it told-you-so.

For a complete look at the entire Sleepaway Camp series join me and Jeff Konopka on Dead Air's retrospective series for Sleepaway Camp HERE.

Sleepaway Camp is available May 27th. Order now!
-Doc Terror

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