Summer is here and what better way to celebrate, then packing the kids up, sending them to god knows where and having hormonal teens watch over them for a couple weeks. Where is my martini? I have never been to summer camp but I always wanted to when I was a kid. Watching movies like Meatballs or Meatballs 2, I thought summer there would be comical romp strewn with adventure and meeting girls (I was 8 or 9). However, when I got older I realized it would probably be more dangerous like the following films. I mean, if I almost drowned on a day trip to a beach with some parks & rec teens supervising me , I'm sure I would have been the Voorhees kid within days of going to one of those camps.
I did have the summer camp horror films though, the terror of maniacs slicing and slashing there way through sexual active counselors and mean campers were good enough for me. And a lot less bug bites too.
Here are 5 Summer Camps of Terror:
5. Sleepaway Camp (1983) - Years after her family died in a tragic boating accident, Angela's weird aunt sends her and her cousin, Ricky to Camp Arawak for the summer. Ricky reunites with old friends and Angela creates enemies with her lackluster attitude and an strange inability to speak with people. While this is going on, people are dying from bizarre accidents and Mel, the camp owner is trying to figure out who the killer is, without letting anyone know there is a killer. This movie has the most haunting image at the end of the film and it is still ingrained into my memory. The story isn't new but Robert Hiltzik does a terrific job telling it. Some good kill scenes, some silly camp humour and an ending you'll never, eeeeeever forget!
4. The Burning (1981) - While at camp, some young lads decide to play a prank on Cropsy, the camp caretaker, to get revenge for his shitty attitude. The prank goes horribly wrong and burns Cropsy alive, leaving him with scars and burns that deform him and take 5 years of hospital care to heal. You got Punk'd Cropsy! Once released, Cropsy kills a hooker and decides to go back and exact his revenge on Camp Stonewater! This movie was the first movie for Jason Alexander, Fisher Stevens and Academy award winner Holly Hunter. Not to mention the music was done by Rick Wakeman from Yes, (This was a big deal in the 80's) but the real star of this movie is the amazing special effects by Tom Savini. The plot is thin, but there is an abundance of killing with some great gore!
3. Cheerleader Camp (1988) The Lindo Valley cheer squad has arrived at camp and ready to win first prize!(?) Unfortunately, their head cheerleader Alison has been having nightmares and is worried her boyfriend Brent doesn't love her anymore. Shortly after they arrive, a hot cheerleader, Brent was talking to, kills herself and then people on her team start disappearing. Alison thinks she might be the murderer, because of the dreams and only has Cory the mascot to talk to about her problems. the camp numbers are dwindling and they have to find the truth! The movies O.k, more cheap laughs and silliness than blood though. It has a young Betsy Russell (Jill Tuck from SAW), Leif Garrett (was a big deal) and direct from Breakin & Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo, Lucinda Dickey! (This was her last film role, for obvious reasons) The story is really, really thin but it is worth a watch and a laugh.
2. Summer Camp Nightmare (1987) - Camp North Pine is a real drag this year, now that Mr. Warren is the new head counselor. No TV, a meditation room and a case of butterflies in front of his cabin, so you can learn about butterflies. Fuck you and your Butterflies, Mr. Warren! Luckily, Franklin Riley has just read some books about terrorism and psychology which he uses to form a band of revolutionaries and they take over the camp from Mr. Warren and his butterfly loving goons. How do you bastards like being in the meditation room, Mr. Warren? However, things start to go awry, when they liberate the girls camp as well. The place is a mess, there is violence and even one camper is brought up on raping a female camper. Has things gone to far at summer camp and is there any generic nerdy kids that can stop this teenage gestapo? The movie is kind of dull and forgettable, half way through I realized I'd seen it a long, long time a go. There is only two killings and one's accidental. Most of the movie is the kids going to a dance and sleeping in late. I was surprised when they brought in the rape aspect, because it's a dumbed down Lord of the Flies, that you could watch with kids up until that part. You don't see anything, but here screams, then they talk about it and hold kiddie court on it. Watch it, if you can't find anything else.
1. Jason Lives: Friday the 13th, Part VI (1986) - Tommy Jarvis fresh out of the mental institution with his buddy Horshack drive down to the cemetery to burn Jason Vorhees dead. When they get there, they dig up Jason and Tommy flips out. He starts stabbing the dead Jason with the fence iron rod, now exhausted from his tantrum, he leaves the iron rod in Jason's chest. Luckily, it is a dark a stormy evening so when lightening strikes the rod, it lights Jason up like a Christmas tree and gives our favourite serial killer new life! Jason immediately dispenses of Horshack and Tommy runs off to get help from the sheriff. When Tommy get to the sheriff's office and lets them know what he did, good work Tommy, they lock him up and call him a nut. Coincidentally, the sheriff smoking hot daughter, Megan is a counselor at the new Camp Forest Pines (formerly Camp Crystal Lake) summer camp for kids which opens the next day. She and her counselor friends, can't find 2 of their friends and were wondering if the sheriff could look for them. Tommy decides to give them the heads up on Jason, which freaks most of them out and causes Megan to fall in love with Tommy? The sheriff ushers the counselors out, drops Tommy out of town and tells him to never come back. Meanwhile, Jason is killing people. The next day the kids arrive at camp and it happens to be Friday the 13th. Can Tommy stop Jason? Can he save the kids from Jason? Do Tommy and Megan ever get together? You'll have to watch and see! There are so many interesting things about this Jason movie. It is the first one where they have campers, it is the first one without nudity and it is the first one to break the 4th wall with self-referential humour. It even gives a nod to the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Writer and Director Tom McLoughlin does an incredible job bringing humour into a very rigid series. The body count is huge and is a terrific story. This one, along with The Final Chapter and the original have really held their ground over the years and still stand up as fantastic horror films. A must see for any horror junkie.
These films really bring out the best parts of summer when you were a kid, like being outside in the fresh air, swimming in a cool crisp lake and knowing that you could be cut up at any time by a machete wielding maniac in the woods. To be a kid again.