How many people do you run into that claim to be movie buffs, and then bore you with stories of their obsession for typical, worn out, overrated films like "Saving Private Ryan", "Fight Club", "Evil Dead" and "Jaws"...you know the types. They think they know all there is to know about all movies no matter how obscure and underground. Yet many of them have never heard of the most crucial, entertaining and groundbreaking series to ever burn itself into cinematic history...SLEEPAWAY CAMP.
My personal introduction to the series was an obscure one that almost didn't happen. Back in 1987, before shops that sold video tapes were common, there was a chain of stores called Wall to Wall Sound & Video. After getting dropped off at the mall by his parents, my life-long buddy Dave Mosca and I wandered into the store and came across a video box that caught our eye immediately...the classic image of the hunting knife pierced through a child's sneaker immediately made its impression on our young pre-warped minds. On the back of the box on the original pressing of SLEEPAWAY CAMP, there was a letter from a camper to his parents saying "You've got to get me out of here right away!"...the letter went on about the horrible events that have been happening at camp, and then at the end of the letter it said "wait a minute, i hear someone coming up behin-----"...followed by a splatter of blood. I instantly wrote the cover art off as a priceless work of art and was instantly obsessed with the film and hadn't even seen it yet. For some strange reason, Wall to Wall sold Dave the unused SLEEPAWAY video without the box. It came in a plastic bag. We still have no idea why this happened, but nonetheless he threw the $10 down and we went home and threw it on.
We were not at all impressed with the first 20-30 minutes of the movie. At first it seemed like a bad after school special about a poor little girl that can't make any friends. So far, it was nothing like HALLOWEEN or FRIDAY THE 13TH...no one had died yet. The chef had been burned, but that was about all that had happened. The overlong baseball scene was the last straw. We stopped the tape. Dave was still angry about getting jipped on the box and that made it easier for him to want to hate the movie and take it back to the store. I wasn't about to disagree, because I was also uninterested.
But after the tape was returned, SLEEPAWAY CAMP stayed on our minds. We questioned the point of the movie, the director's intentions, and why nothing scary had happened for 30 minutes. We also joked about the video coming brand new in a plastic bag. It wasn't long after talking about SLEEPAWAY a lot that we became curious about what happened in the rest of the movie. So, one year for Christmas, my aunt and uncle got me a movie that i already had...KISS MEETS THE PHANTOM OF THE PARK. The price tag was ripped off, but from the remaining tag I could still see that it had been bought at K Mart.
I finally went to exchange the tape at K Mart and went searching for a different movie, and there...lying in the discount bin all by itself, was the hunting knife slashing through the sneaker. It didn't take long for me to realize that this flick needed a second chance. Without hesitation, I made the exchange and went home for another attempt to sit through the movie again...this time by myself.
I can remember feeling more comfortable and entertained this time during the first 30 minutes...I felt familiar with the characters...I could relate to them because they were around my age. After sitting through the infamous baseball scene where we had stopped it previously, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that all hell breaks loose after the camp social and I was instantly on the edge of my seat entertained by the murders of my could-have-been peers. I found myself extremely interested in the mystery of who was killing these kids. No, it couldn't be Angela...she's too small, too quiet, too shy. I was already satisfied by the fact that these jerks were dying horrible deaths and they all deserved it. another thing that caught my attention about the film was that these murders were extremely brutal without the aid of blood and gore. With that aside, the film was still effectively scary and creepy. The individuality of the film hooked me right then and there, and by the time I got to the extremely out-of-left-field ending...I was a happy camper for life.
I had to convince Dave to give it another shot...I don't remember it being easy to do, but we watched it again...and again...and again. Eventually we had memorized the entire movie...every scene, every scream, every joke, every mistake (such as Ricky's cowboy hat moving back and forth during his fight with Billy and Kenny at the social.) We felt like we knew these people. the characterization was so well developed in this unknown 84 minute classic that we actually felt like we knew the cast. We wanted to track down some of the actors but back then without the internet it was almost impossible. We wondered if anyone shared our obsession. Sadly months after I had gotten the movie, SC went out of print and pretty much was forgotten by everyone but us. Then came the sequels...
SLEEPAWAY CAMP 2 and 3 were instant classics, although it was strange to see that they had none of the original actors at all. These movies were not as dark...and the focus was a little more on humor than on horror. Pam Springsteen's portrayal of Angela cracked me up. She was as priceless as Felissa Rose...and they were completely different characters. 99% of the time, comedy in a horror movie is something that I have always detested...even to this day. But the dry, subtle humor of these 2 movies invited me in and soon I realized that this humor wasn't for everyone...I also really dug John Altyn's songs in these 2 movies ("out of control" and "sleepaway"...I want those on cd!) I soon loved all 3 movies as one. being able to share and appreciate all 3 film's comedic style and uncompromised approach made me feel like I was part of a selective club. It made me feel like I knew something that other people didn't know. In 1990 I came to the conclusion that "Batman" wasn't that great...SLEEPAWAY CAMP was.
By summer 1990, having already seen all 3 movies too many times...I decided to give going to camp a try to see if it was anything like in the movie...oddly enough it was, but unfortunately none of the asshole kids were murdered.
Over the years I started playing in several rock and metal bands as a guitarist and vocalist. I finally found my permanent niche in my current project called "CAMP KILL YOURSELF" or "CKY" for short. The name entered my mind as an homage to SC movies and other camp slasher flicks, and stemmed from an idea that I would some day make a movie myself in the tradition of SC using CAMP KILL YOURSELF as the title. Well, the band started getting recognition and I realized the movie would have to wait. We did however, start putting out low budget video tapes of us pulling pranks, doing comedy skits and being offensive...and used CKY music as the soundtrack...these videos were instantly successful. In 1999 to support our first album, "Volume 1", we went on the vans warped tour and printed up 2,000 copies of a limited cd single called "Disengage the Simulator" but we did not have artwork. This marked the first time that I was able to use my personal taste in horror movies to crossover into what I was doing with the band. It was as simple as this...I took my old copy of Sleepaway Camp, paused it at the last scene with Angela's terrifying and disturbing face and took a photo off of the TV and used it as the cover of the single. A few weeks later I got a copy of the cd in my hand and I could have cried...it looked so F***ing cool. I felt more connected to SC than ever. I felt like I was now a part of it and the history of it. Needless to say, the cd single sold all 2000 copies that summer, and the big question was "where the hell is this picture from?" But an even bigger question was in my head "where the hell is SLEEPAWAY CAMP and it's fans??" Anyway, the CKY movies and music got so big that MTV eventually snapped up the idea with us and called it JACKASS. It is pretty much the same thing as our movies, and it has our music in it as well. The one and only JACKASS that I physically appeared in, has me wearing my CKY ANGELA shirt! , waking up the parents at 2 am playing death metal music in their bedroom. Maybe you've seen that one..Angela herself, Felissa Rose, definitely saw it.
Finally I got the news that anchor bay was re-releasing SC on DVD...could be one of the top 10 best days of my life when I finally had it in my hands. Then I thought...where is the demand coming from? Could the CKY single have helped??? I finally came across sleepawaycampmovies.com and started reading what other people thought of the movie. I couldn't believe it.
More unbelievable than that, I found out that my guitarist, Chad, dated Jonathan Tiersten's (Ricky) X-girlfriend, Jenna. How big is the earth, 2 miles? I met her and she told me some funny stuff about how her and JT used to watch the movie. I found out eventually that he was in a band himself, and I contacted him through e mail. We talked about music, Jenna, and the movie...and how they were setting up production for another film. I flipped out...I really wanted to be a part of it. JT put me in contact with Felissa and she ended up being one of the nicest people I have ever spoken to, swear to god...very sweet. She was going to give me the chance to meet with director Robert Hiltzik and herself in LA where I live. Then production was postponed and I went on tour, losing contact with Felissa for a while, until a recent e mail from her about a month ago...Felissa if you're reading this- get in touch. With my schedule pending, and with them feeling whether or not there is a part for me in the script, being in RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP would be beyond a dream come true.
Dave and i are still huge fans of the series, and we could watch them all 10 times a day and never get bored. As of now the new CKY album is due out Sept. 14th through ISLAND/UNIVERSAL with a fall tour of the U.S. until November. By the way, those SC/CKY cd singles have been going on ebay for ridiculous amounts of cash...one went for $260, another for $480, and another at $760! You can also expect more SLEEPAWAY CKY references in the future, maybe a CKY song on the RETURN soundtrack...whatever it takes for me to show my neverending support for what I feel to be one of the most valuable and entertaining movies ever made...SLEEPAWAY CAMP.