Son of Sleepaway Camp?

It’s common practice for movies, TV shows, etc., to be re-titled for different parts of the world. This is done to avoid issues such as copyright infringement, confusion over words, phrases, or references the audience won’t be familiar with, or unwelcome associations with something from a country’s past. WWE’s (mostly) annual Elimination Chamber event, for example, is known as “No Escape” in Germany because “elimination chamber” to them evokes images of the gas chambers used during World War II, and we all know they like to forget about that. Likewise, in Italy, the Disney movie Moana goes by “Oceania” because Italians associate that mononym with celebrity pornstar Moana Pozzi.

I’ll give you a second to Google her videos.

In the VHS era especially, distributors played fast and loose with their titles, extending multiple series by marketing unrelated movies as sequels to each other. It’s fun to look back at these makeshift series and wonder what the hell they were thinking. So many random choices were made. Scroll down, you’ll see what I mean.



La Casa

The Evil Dead (1981)

La Casa 2

Evil Dead II (1987)

La Casa 3

Ghosthouse (1988)

La Casa 4

Witchery (1988)

La Casa 5

Beyond Darkness (1990)

La Casa 6

House II: The Second Story (1987)

La Casa 7

The Horror Show (1989)




Troll (1986)

Troll 2

Troll 2 (1990)
note: totally unrelated

Troll 3

Quest For the Mighty Sword (1990)
The Crawlers (1993)




Demons (1985)

Demons 2

Demons 2 (1986)

Demons 3

The Ogre (1988)
The Church (1989)
Black Demons (1991)

Demons 4

The Sect (1991)

Demon’s 5: The Devil’s Veil

The Mask of Satan (1990)

Demons 6: Armageddon

The Black Cat (1989)

Demons 7: The Inferno

Dark Tower (1989)

New Demons

Demonia (1990)

Demons ’95

Cemetery Man (1994)

Why were House 2 & 3 “La Casa” movies, but not 1 or 4? We’ll probably never know. One of the strangest products of this bygone practice is “Son of Sleepaway Camp”, an “international version” of Memorial Valley Massacre (also known as Memorial Day and Valley of Death) which is notable for reusing Edward Bilous’ score from Sleepaway Camp without crediting him, and adding hardcore inserts.

Hol’ up, hardcore inserts? I thought the objective here was to fool people into thinking Memorial Valley Massacre is somehow related to Sleepaway Camp. There isn’t any hardcore fucking in Sleepaway Camp, at least not that I remember. Most of the actors were kids, so that would be weird. I’d love to know what the reasoning was behind bumping the rating from R to X. Maybe the shadowy distributors were trying to outdo Sleepaway Camp‘s infamous penis shot by getting even more explicit.

Credit: Jurassic Park, Universal DVD

I’d love to know what “international version” means too. Like, here, in this context. What country specifically was this cut was created for? It would have to be one that spoke English, hadn’t already released Sleepaway Camp with a different title, wasn’t fussed about copyright, and allowed hardcore pornography. That’s gotta be a short list of countries. In my opinion, all signs point to Italy. Or should I say all roads lead to Rome?

Let’s look at the title. Like some of the others above, it tries to force a connection by suggesting the killer is the son of the killer from Sleepaway Camp. That’s not possible, though, for two reasons.

Credit: Spectrum Media DVD

I’ll assume if you’ve made it this far, you’re familiar with the Sleepaway Camp series. If I’m wrong in that assumption, go watch it. You’ll have fun, I promise. Spoilers ahead.

It centers on a teen boy named Peter who not only witnessed the tragic boating deaths of his father and sister Angela, but was secretly raised as said sister by his twisted aunt Martha. He may have also seen his father have sex with a man. If that’s not traumatic enough, Peter is bullied and nearly molested one summer at camp, which sends him over the edge. He embarks on a quest to kill every single person who was mean to him and his cousin, racking up eleven victims in total. After the first movie, he’s institutionalized, and is either released following sex reassignment surgery to become female, or escapes. The series diverges into two separate timelines.

A graphic I made.
Sleepaway Camp font credit:

In Memorial Valley Massacre, a feral twenty-something-year-old — the credits call him “Hermit”, although he’s more of a stereotypical caveman — sabotages a newly built campground to prevent civilization from encroaching on his sparsely forested home. He starts off by throwing a dead dog in the camp’s water supply, then leaves a pile of snakes on a picnic table. Head contractor/park ranger George Webster responds to a family’s cries for help. “Goddamn, those are poisonous.” he says nonchalantly. First of all, no, they’re not. They’re common garter snakes. Second of all, the word he’s looking for is venomous. George proceeds to beat the poor snakes with a shovel while another guy sprays them with a fire extinguisher.

When scare tactics don’t work, Hermit just kills everyone.

Son of Sleepaway Camp seems to want us to think Hermit is Peter’s son. Problem is, that would contradict the film’s big reveal. Hermit is actually George’s son. He was kidnapped at a young age and got lost.

Besides, it’s virtually impossible for Peter to have had a kid anyway. He’s fourteen in Robert Hiltzik’s original, is too shy and naïve to have had sex before, and is presumably apprehended by the cop with the fake mustache the moment the film ends. Like I already said, he’s given a sex change at a psych ward between 1 and 2, meaning he’s sterile in 2, 3, and 4. Return to Sleepaway Camp nullifies those sequels, but wasn’t released for another two decades, making it a nonfactor.

Unless these distributors expect us to believe Peter, hereafter referred to as Angela, impregnated someone at fourteen, I’m just not buyin’ it. I’d have an easier time believing Hermit is Angela, but nobody thought to go that route.

Let’s re-examine the title. How else can we interpret it? Literally, with the parent being the camp? Syntactically, that makes no sense. “Sleepaway Camp” is both a place and a title, but one thing it’s not is a person. So how can it have a son? That’s like naming your movie “Son of House on the Edge of the Park” or “Bride of Beyond the Door III”.

Credit: Spectrum Media DVD

Since neither parentage is possible, the only way to interpret the title is figuratively; Hermit isn’t a literal male descendent of Sleepaway Camp, i.e., Camp Arawak, he was simply shaped or influenced by what happened there somehow. Ok. Maybe he saw Angela killing folks and it messed him up. Works for me.

Now that we’ve done all these mental gymnastics to rationalize the title, I should tell you something important… there are two — yes, two — versions of Son of Sleepaway Camp floating around. I’ve never actually seen the original. The version I unwittingly bought on DVD is a fan edit which makes even more changes to boost the connection.

One thing my copy does, for example, is crop out two signs reading “Memorial Valley Campground”, in an apparent attempt to relocate the film to Camp Arawak. It also removes all the hardcore penetration, yet amusingly leaves softcore remnants of the inserts behind. At 43:19, it zooms in on a woman’s wet t-shirt and makes a cartoonish “boi-oi-oing” sound effect followed by a moo. Why, I don’t know.

Furthermore, it adds:

• “Angela’s Theme (You’re Just What I’ve Been Looking For)” by Frankie Vinci to the background of a dialogue scene
• “Sleepaway” by John Altyn to the end credits
• “Straight Between the Eyes” by Anvil to the end credits

These songs are from Sleepaway Camp 1, 3 and 2, respectively, and they’re bangers. Speaking of the credits, additional text has been sloppily superimposed over them. It reads:

Credit: Spectrum Media DVD

The only correct part about this is the “written by” section. It’s curious that Jim Markovic is listed as producer. I think it goes without saying, but Jim Markovic had nothing to do with this movie. He filmed the test footage for Sleepaway Camp IV: The Survivor. None of that footage was used or even referenced here.

The DVD ends with a poor-quality blue and green image of Angela’s iconic face.

Credit: Spectrum Media DVD

I can’t help but laugh at all the effort that went into forcing this square peg into a round hole. Memorial Valley Massacre and Sleepaway Camp are nothing alike, no matter how many edits distributors and rogue superfans make. If I absolutely had to pick a movie to market Memorial Valley Massacre as a sequel to, I’d go with something more obvious, like Don’t Go in the Woods… Alone!. Both feature murderous hermits.

My copy.

I don’t recommend buying this disc. It boasts an extremely crummy transfer, cheap, pointless edits, and no extras. If you know where to find the original, “untampered-with” version of Son of Sleepaway Camp, or have any info about it, or just want to talk, I urge you to comment.

I knew I’d seen this cover image somewhere before, and as it turns out, I had. It’s an altered portion of a Sleepaway Camp poster used for an Alamo Drafthouse screening, illustrated by Justin Erickson, probably taken without his permission.