Quick Movie Review: Sleepaway Camp (1983)


I’m not a big fan of horror movies. In fact, I will almost never watch one unless it’s from before the year 2000. The effects these days are too lifelike. Plus, there’s something more fun about cheesy effects and makeup.

I had heard good things about Sleepaway Camp and that it’s not very scary. Which is true up until the very end–for me, at least. I get freaked out easily. And the way the flashbacks are lit is pretty great, making it even creepier.

The premise is intriguing to me since it takes place at summer camp–which I’m a sucker for. I grew up going to camp and it’s probably my favorite setting for movies.

We open with a traumatic boating accident that takes place on a lake at the camp. A man is with his son and daughter when some careless teenagers kill him and his son with a speedboat.

Eight years later, his daughter Angela is seen living with her aunt and her cousin. She and her cousin, Ricky, start their first day at camp. But throughout the summer, every kid or counselor who misbehaves gets murdered. The mystery of the movie is finding out who’s doing it all.

The story as a whole is fairly uneventful. The runtime is pretty short, but the narrative still seems to drag. We get a ton of filler scenes, which lack substance, but are entertaining nonetheless. You do feel like you’re at camp. Plus, the mystery of it all keeps you engaged.

And it pays off, despite the filmmakers intentionally trying to throw us off about the killer’s identity. But it’s more of the way they do it–which gets a little disingenuous at times. I can’t elaborate on it too much without giving anything away, but you’ll see what I mean.

The acting is below par, but it’s also a case of poor material and direction. It’s only distracting a few times, because the bad performances actually fit in perfectly with the movie’s campiness (pun kinda intended).

Even though it’s obvious that this film came to fruition due to the writer having a great idea for a twist ending, thus building the movie around it–it’s an enjoyable watch. And one that will probably stick with you for a long time.

Twizard Rating: 82


Quick Movie Review: National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)


Maybe growing up on National Lampoon’s Vacation would have helped my appreciation, but the humor is dated and the laughs are few and far between.

Not to say that there aren’t any–and the ones that are present are actually quite funny–but when a film decides to be an irreverent comedy, you expect it to be fairly consistent. Many scenes that are meant to be funny aren’t even the ones that I laughed at the hardest. Some of the funniest bits are when Chevy Chase is just being Chevy Chase. Like having a prophetic conversation with his son (Anthony Michael Hall) as his glasses are subtly falling off of his face. Or denying his family from visiting the Gateway Arch in St. Louis–rather, going to places like the world’s 2nd largest ball of twine instead

There are some clever scenes, but in an early-John-Hughes fashion, they appear underdeveloped and disconnected from each other much of the time. It’s a compilation of instances, rather than a story.

The film is about the Griswold family driving from Chicago to Los Angeles to visit a sendup version of Disneyland, called Walley World. On the way, they experience Murphy’s Law firsthand, as just about everything on the trip goes haywire. Chevy Chase plays Clark Griswold–the enthusiastic patriarch whose idea it is to drive to California rather than take an airplane.

Watching the movie, I was never bored, but also not really invested in the characters or in anything that was happening. The film isn’t bad by any means when compared to other comedies. It’s just average. A few memorable scenes, but the rest are throwaways. That is, unless you’re nostalgic about the film–then you can probably recite the lines in their entirety.

I can appreciate its impact and place in popular culture. It’s just that having not grown up with the movie, it’s hard to see past what I’m actually watching.

Twizard Rating: 71