WHERE THIS EVIL HAILS FROM: 1983 sexploitation slasher classic Sleepaway Camp
WHY THIS EVIL MADE ME FILLE THE FEAR: As a bespectacled, tooth-braced, awkward nerd with a 15-letter long last name, let’s just say I was no stranger to bullying, which, to make things worse, wasn’t really called that in 1986 when I rented Sleepaway Camp from our local video store (for you young ones, that’s Netflix in a physical building I had to walk and pick up a physical VHS tape from). Angela is a sweet, awkward, lonely final girl/murderer, tormented to no end by the totally together hornballs at camp. She’s self-conscious, never showering in front of anyone, and terrified of the water since HER PARENTS AND BROTHER DIED IN A BOATING ACCIDENT (which you’d think the jerks at camp would understand, but nooooo). Plus she had two dads, which for the time was pretty progressive, if problematic in this context since it’s supposed to be part of the reason she’s kind of batty.
Anyway, the campers suck, and one by one they start being killed off in gross and super-disturbing, though also kind of satisfying, ways. In the end, it’s revealed that Angela is the murderer and that (spoiler alert) SHE HAS A PENIS! SHE’S ACTUALLY HER BROTHER, PETER, AND ANGELA DIED! His crazy aunt wanted a daughter and forced Peter to assume his sister’s identity. The last scene (seen below) will scare the living daylights out of you. I don’t care how old you are or whether or not you’re expecting it.
Though the end was a shocker for my bubble-wrapped, pre-Crying Game little brain, it wasn’t Angela or her gender identity that horrified me. It was the fact that I was supposed to be horrified by that when all I could do was sympathize with her. Those campers though? They were bastards. So were the adults who facilitated their torture of an awkward kid trying to come to terms with some pretty heavy history and identity issues. They were the truly evil ones.
HOW THIS EVIL STILL DOES: Those campers are still around, man. You know the ones. And the identity issues that underlie the entire film? Lots of people are still struggling with those in myriad ways. We’ve come a long way, but not all the way. Plus, now that I have a teenager, the campers’ horniness is a new kind of terrifying.