Sleepaway Camp is at least 10 times more enjoyable than Friday the 13th, which proceeded it by three years and more or less set the tone for the teen slasher genre. It is probably a hundred times more enjoyable.
The film opens with a scene at a summer lake. A father and his two children are drifting in a small sailboat, and the kids get into a fight in the outrageously heavy Brooklyn accents that colors the speech of most of the cast, and become the first of many things to love about this movie. The father’s friend is on the shore reminding him that it is time to “go see the lawyer.” At the other end of the lake, a boating instructor is pulling a skier and allows a girl who is not trained on boats to take over the wheel. This being a teen slasher film, the inevitable happens, and soon the father and boy are floating face down, while the skier hysterically screams “Oh my God! Somebody help those people! They are going to DIE!”. Cue the familiar “8 years later” title card so familiar to the genre, and Angela, the girl who survived the accident is living with her eccentric aunt and male cousin Ricky. The two are sent to sent to camp where Angela does spectacular job of not fitting in, and Ricky does his best to protect his awkward cousin.
Robert Early Jones, father of James Earl, plays an assistant cook at the camp, but most of the the other actors are unknown. So there is plenty of amateurish acting to revel in. People get killed with all manner if implements, including a large pot of corn soup, and all of the teen horror films memes are there, including a chubby kid name Mozart, girls getting stabbed in the shower, and dirty old men as camp counselors. The ending of this film is legendary, but I am not about to give it away, and urge anyone who is in the slightest bit interested in this to watch it without reading too much about it first.