Oh f%^&! That was my bona fide reaction to the final scene, and I'm pretty sure it will also be yours as long as you go into this film with no outside knowledge about what happens. I laughed off this film's claim to offer "the most shocking climax in the history of American cinema," but I'm here to tell you these guys were serious - and they deliver the goods. This may or may not be the most shocking ending of all time, but I'm here to tell you that it's way up there on the list. Up until that point, this was just a slightly better than average slasher, but now I want to out and shout "Sleepaway Camp" from the rooftops. It has been so long since any slasher offered me even the smallest of surprises, then here comes along this cult classic from 1983 to totally blow me away. If you have even the smallest iota of interest in horror films, you simply must watch Sleepaway Camp.
What parent wouldn't want to send their little angel to Camp Arawak? The guy who runs the place is a dirty old man, the head cook's a pedophile, and the counselors are worse than the kids. Here, your child can take part in water balloon fights atop a sloping roof, wander out into the lake to skinny dip or dump his canoe passengers any time night or day, and be as mean to the other kids as he wants. Yep, this is a great place for kids to go camping. One kid who does not enjoy the experience, however, is Angela (Felissa Rose), who is sent there along with her cousin Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten) by Aunt Martha. Martha is a strange one; she looks weird, she talks weird, and she's completely loony tunes - but she has been Angela's guardian ever since a tragic boating accident made her an orphan. It's no wonder - after all she's been through - that Angela is shy and withdrawn among the other kids at Camp Arawak. Naturally, the other kids tease her mercilessly because she won't talk or take part in any activities - and Ricky can't be there to protect her all the time.
Things go south almost from the get-go, as one man suffers a horrible accident. Then one of the kids drowns. By the time we get to the third death, it seems pretty obvious that these are no accidents - a killer is staking Camp Arawak. The amazing thing is that a couple of dozen kids are still there by this point, as you would think even the worst parent in the world would have to honor the three-death rule and take his/her kids home. That would ruin all the fun, though, as the killer still has a lot of work to do. Who could the killer be? That's the big question, of course. Knowing this film boasted a shocking revelation at the end, I was really focused on figuring out the killer's identity. I was overanalyzing everybody, especially the most likely suspects. In the end, my efforts were largely in vein, as the filmmakers succeeded in shocking the hell out of me.
The ending of this film is so impressive that I have to give it five stars. Sleepaway Camp should be on any and every list of must-see horror movies. Stop reading about this film right now, and get your hands on a copy. Don't look at any storylines for the sequels, and don't let anyone spoil the surprise that awaits you in the end. If you don't know what's coming, just sit back and prepare to be blown away.