Sleepaway Camp is a 1983 horror movie released by American Eagle Films and United Film Distribution.  It stars Felissa Rose as Angela, Jonathan Tiersten as Ricky, Karen Fields as Judy, Christopher Collet as Paul, and Mike Kellin as Mel.  The producers are Jerry Silva (Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers) and Michele Tatosian (Return to Sleepaway Camp).  The director is Robert Hilzik (Sleepaway Camp Reunion).

The film opens with Angela Baker, her brother Peter, and their father John out on a lake.  After their boat accidentally capsizes and they fall into the water, some careless teenagers driving a motorboat run right over Peter and John, killing them both.  Angela is sent to live with her Aunt Martha Thomas and her son Ricky.  Eight years later, Angela and Ricky are sent to Camp Arawak.  The teen campers there constantly harass Angela because of her shyness.  During lunch one day, Angela is taken to the kitchen after the head counselor discovers that she doesn’t like the prepared food so she can find something she likes.  Artie the cook is left alone in the store room with her and attempts to molest Angela just as cousin Ricky enters.  The cook warns them to keep quiet about what happened.  Later on as Artie is tending to a large pot full of boiling water, a figure out of camera view knocks out the stool he had been standing on.  As a result, he accidentally spills boiling water all over himself.  Camp owner Mel Costic pays off the kitchen staff to keep the incident from the campers.  Ricky beats fellow campers Billy, Mike, and Kenny in a baseball game and they vow to get even.  Mike and Kenny later accost Angela.  Ricky and his friend Paul intervene.  A fight ensues, resulting in Ricky and the rest of the boys leaving while Paul stays behind to befriend Angela who finally speaks for the first time since arriving at the camp.  Later that night, Kenny mysteriously drowns.  His body turns up the next morning.  Again, Mel attempts to cover it up.  Billy dies when he is trapped in a bathroom stall with a beehive.  The camp owner suspects cousin Ricky is the culprit as many of Angela’s bullies were the ones killed.

Despite many differences, Sleepaway Camp appears to be very heavily inspired by Friday the 13th and the horror slasher genre that was popular in the 1980’s.  One could argue that some scenes in the film were almost complete replicas of those seen in Friday the 13th.  One particular part immediately comes to mind, which is the scene where Judy and Meg throw Angela into the water.  In the 1980 horror classic, future slasher icon Jason Voorhees drowns in the lake after being forced in by some cruel campers.  Jason couldn’t swim.  Another similarity is the unseen killer feature.  In this film, we notice only the victims’ reactions to the presence of the killer and not the killer himself/herself.  Friday the 13th brings a similar idea as we only see the killer’s shadow until the end.

In Sleepaway Camp, there may have been a less obvious motive for the killer to kill.  In the opening scene of the movie, Angela’s brother and father get killed when a motor boat runs over them as they swim in the lake.  As she is calling for someone to help, all the people there were too shocked to do anything about it.  It could be perhaps that he/she started killing because he/she assumed a similar reaction would be had by the campers and camp staff.  Once they discovered the bodies, they would be too stunned to do anything to stop the killer.

To wrap, Sleepaway Camp is a cult classic.  While not nearly as successful as Friday the 13th, it carries many of the same characteristics and I believe that if you enjoyed Friday the 13th you will get a kick out of Sleepaway Camp!