This unique entry into the slasher canon of the early '80s was the result of director Robert Hiltzik's graduate school work; he wrote the script as his senior thesis. While most of the gender-bending story's sexual confusion is ultimately half-baked, the plot twists are like sharp smacks in the face when compared to the tedium of a hundred other Friday the 13th rip-offs. Combined with imaginative murders, some realistic touches from the preteen cast (who curse up a blue streak and treat their peers with a true-to-life cruelty), and plenty of guffaw-worthy dialogue, Sleepaway Camp offers an enjoyably creepy ride into revenge-slaying territory. The famous shock ending might be evident early on to some viewers, but it still packs a wallop, if only of the "I can't believe what I'm seeing!" variety. Director Hiltzik does an admirably professional job in this, his only film to date. (Though a number of sequels followed Sleepaway Camp, he was involved with none of them.) Apparently, this was the only story he felt compelled to tell, and it sure is a weird one. While still a basic slasher film at its core, Sleepaway Camp is distinctive enough to warrant required viewing for genre enthusiasts.
by Fred Beldin review