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Traumafession:: James on Sleepaway Camp (1983)

November 22nd, 2020 by unkle lancifer · 1 Comment

Sleepaway Camp. No other movie has psychologically scared me as extremely as this movie has. I actually watched it for the first time while CAMPING with my Dad and Uncle in a small Evil Dead-type cabin deep in the woods of Pennsylvania!

The movie has a series of things that made me uncomfortable. These kids weren’t just mean to each other, they were emasculating and castrating. Watching the cook blister and writhe in agony over for what seemed like an eternity, the snake emerging out of the open mouth of the most visually disturbing drowned corpse I had ever seen, and the curling iron up the genitals with brute force and sizzle. It all brought me down to a very vulnerable place. Then the ending put me in the truest form of shock one can experience. I retreated inside the safety of my mind and everything went numb as the guttural growling and hissing of the very embodiment of a critical psychological breaking point manifested itself onscreen. I don’t think I talked much afterward. It took years for me to watch it again. Now it’s a favorite.

I didn’t revisit Sleepaway Camp until watching Unhappy Campers. Renting the sequel was very therapeutic for me. Its lighter comedic tone eased me out of the trauma. It’s not without its own sort of brutality. I think the outhouse murder and the incredible monologue Angela delivers as she commits the act is very powerful and has become one of my favorite movie scenes. I’ve read that it was taken straight from Robert Hiltzik’s original script for the sequel, before changes were made and infused with comedy. I can only imagine watching that scene played out with the grim, dead serious tone it was intended to have, more like the original, and having no comedy before or after to alleviate its morbidness. Imagine that.

-James of The Esoteric Interpreter

Tags: Traumafessions




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