Robert Hiltzik’s entire movie career has basically been in telling one story, that of Sleepaway Camp. Hiltzik wrote and directed the original, as well as Return to Sleepaway Camp. So who better to discuss Sleepaway Camp‘s move to Blu-ray from Scream Factory on May 27 than Robert Hiltzik himself.
Hiltzik recently sat down with Dread Central to talk about some interesting aspects of this horror staple, which was released in 1983. “I was in graduate film school at the time and I wanted to do my own film,” Hiltzik said, when discussing the origins of the movie. “I wanted to figure out what would get me into the marketplace the easiest. The path of least resistance. I figured dramas and comedies would be very subjective, but everyone likes a good horror film. And I figured shooting a horror film in one location would keep the budget modest. So I thought that was the best way to go.” As many young filmmakers do, thus the large number of careers springboarded by the horror genre.
Hiltzik discussed the process he used in coming up with the concept. “In creating the film, I came up with the beginning and then I came up with the ending,” Hiltzik said. “I knew I needed a good beginning to grip the audience and a great ending so when they leave the theater they’re still talking about it. Then I filled in the middle.”
Always known for its shocking ending, Sleepaway Camp is also loaded with fantastic humor. “I don’t think you can keep people on the edge of their seats for 90 minutes,” Hiltzik said. “You need to break that up and comedy will help you bring people into a different frame of mind. Then, when the horror comes in, it’s a little more of a jolt. If you’re on the edge of your seat the whole time the impact isn’t the same. You become a little used to that. And there are a lot of humorous things that go on at a camp and I wanted to bring that whole flavor to the story.”
As for Angela, she’s well established as quite the legendary character. Hiltzik discussed what she means to him. “She’s somewhat iconic,” he said. “What I like about her character…and what I was very mindful of this while I was developing the story…one of the things I was trying to accomplish was not to have murders happen just because people are standing there. There are actions on behalf of the victims that, one could argue, kind of justify her reactions. They’re not just random victims. The people have done things that merit some response. Whether it’s the kind of response they suffer, that’s another story. But it is a horror movie.”
Finally Hiltzik discussed the reaction of a new generation of fans to Sleepaway Camp as he’s seen first-hand. “I went to a screening about two years ago in Chicago and they showed me the theater they were going to screen it in and it was the biggest movie theater I’ve ever been in,” Hiltzik said. “It was absolutely massive, one of those old time theaters. And I was thinking to myself, ‘This is going to be a disaster.’ because the theater is so cavernous that how many people can possibly show up here that are going to be interested in my movie 28 years later. When I showed up that evening, it was about 75 percent full, which was tremendous. And after the film, I talked to fans for probably four hours. They actually had to kick us out because they were closing up. But I was amazed by the interest and I was most impressed with the fact that most of the audience was teenagers and people in their 20’s versus 40 or 50 year olds who saw the film when it first came out. So it looks like it jumped into new generations.”
Shout Factory releases Sleepaway Camp on Blu-ray on May 27.
Avid fans and collectors please take note: Those who order SLEEPAWAY CAMP Collector’s Edition Blu-ray from ScreamfactoryDVD.com will receive the exclusive 18”x24” poster featuring the newly commissioned artwork! These are only available while supplies last.
After a terrible boating accident killed her family, shy Angela Baker (Felissa Rose, Return To Sleepaway Camp) went to live with her eccentric Aunt Martha and her cousin Ricky.
This summer, Martha decides to send them both to Camp Arawak, a place to enjoy the great outdoors. Shortly after their arrival, a series of bizarre and violent “accidents” begin to claim the lives of various campers. Has a dark secret returned from the camp’s past…or will an unspeakable horror end the summer season for all?
From its grisly makeup effects to the truly shocking, and unforgettable, climax, Sleepaway Camp is no ordinary slasher film…it’s a cult classic!
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