Two Killer Theory
Sleepaway Camp offers many different interpretations
when it comes to the psychology of the story, but also offers alternate
perspectives of the physical aspects, such as: who killed who? Here's one
way of looking at things that will make your next screening an interesting
one. While this section was originally written in 1999 just for fun yet has long been a target for the ol' "nerd looking too deep into things" slam, it seems in the upcoming Return To Sleepaway Camp that this essay is asking the right questions...
Theoretically, if you watch Sleepaway Camp for the first time and hit stop
before the final sequence, it can go either way: Ricky or Angela being the
culprit. That's the mystery's design. You just happen to see Angela's side
of things in the end. Many things are insinuated but not said. Robert Hiltzik
stated on the DVD commentary, "who said it has to be one person?"
in regards to multiple killers.
Of great importance to Martha enough to tie a string around her finger,
are the physicals needed for the kids to attend camp. She hands them to
Ricky, placing the responsibility with him. As a pretext, he simply must
know the secret in order to know what to protect Angela from. Obviously
Angela's physical is to ensure her secret. Why does Ricky have one? Did
he originate as a female and Martha has shot him with male hormones (remember,
she is a doctor), enough that would also account for his steroid like anger?
Food for thought, but let's focus on Ricky's participation rather than sexual
origins for now. Martha tells Ricky to be careful not to tell anyone how
he got the physicals. He replies "no matter what they do, I'll never
tell". Playing or not, that statement lets us know... he knows.
By the time the first murder scene occurs, it is too early in attending
camp for Angela to simply snap and plot to kill Artie: watch the unseen
killer stalk for a weapon before Artie enters. Angela hasn't suffered enough
from Judy, Meg and all yet. But Ricky has been to Camp Arawak before...
has maybe killed before? Old wounds may have been reopened. Whatever the
case, Artie's advances on Angela and his physical bruising of him are enough
to be one side of motive for giving Artie a scolding he'll never forget.
Additionally, his language aimed at the killer kid is generally used against
When it comes to Kenny's watery fate, Angela couldn't be a good enough swimmer
to catch up with the canoe so fast, considering her past. Since we discover
gleam she doesn't like water for either/both A) the accident and B) water
revealing her willy, peg this on the Rickster. Besides, Kenny's taunts when
face to face with the killer clearly denote Ricky. The guys would be interested
to see him because.... they want to beat the shit out of him for the fight
and baseball game. Remember?
Mozart's hunting knife he uses to chase Ricky with, following the whipped
cream prank, is taken away by Gene, who hides it in the cabin in clear view
of Ricky. Later, after Angela is waterbombed from above, Ricky lets loose
with his anger but Mel restrains him. Ricky is one such to lend a death
stare at the scene's climax. Angela is told to change her wet clothes...
and it's lunchtime so with the two's "slots" aligned, Ricky goes
and gets the hidden hunting knife from his cabin, gives it to Angela. Then
the death scene... only a boy could enter a boy's cabin at camp undetected!
He goes in and locks Billy in the stall. As it is too quick to exit the
cabin and move around the back to the window, we can assume it is Angela
who rips the screen open with the knife (she could have only gotten it from
Ricky... no exceptions) and puts in the beehive.
Mel believes Ricky to be a killer. He's "seen the hate in his eyes".
Remember that up to this point, the deaths have been seen as clear cut accidents
by all. That only Mel, as well us us, know they are far from accidents,
points out that the old coot could know something.
Paul surprises Angela from behind, who is out alone looking for something.
She says she thought he was the killer. That is correct. She is obviously
waiting for Ricky now that they've found efficiency in teaming up for the
kills. If she was simply on the lookout for a victim, who would it be? Paul
and Meg haven't transgressed enough yet.
Ricky asking Angela for help with Capture the Flag, telling her to go one
way why he goes the other, trying to convince her, telling her once they
win it'll be over, that they'll never be able to catch both of them... more
than describing the flag game demonstrates the two's killing ethic: how
they came to work together on this and how they do so. "Follow me"...
a deranged young mind taking advantage of a confused young mind.
At the beach, Mel grapples with Ricky, accusing him of the kills. Asking
how he'll do it next time. "Drowning of worse?" He also states
"I saw you those times, at the rec room, at the waterfront..."
Whoa! Hold on a second. Mel has seen Ricky at the waterfront before Kenny's
death! That is proof right there. Mel also accuses Ricky of trying to ruin
him. Ricky gets away to save Angela, keeping her hunched over so her pecker
doesn't show while the children throw sand at him. Not Angela... she has
zero motive in killing them. Angela doesn't even see the kids, in order
to later kill them. When the two sit, Ricky swears that "we" won't
let them get away with this.
Angela sees Meg prepare for her shower so she comes back once everyone has
left. She still has the hunting knife and so uses it. She is taught to keep
things clean by Martha obviously, she cleans the knife blade. She then returns
to the rec hall social briefly so she is not missed, before leaving again,
when she arranges with Paul to meet later. She then goes to the waterfront,
to plant the knife (as she is not sure if she will use it after revealing
her piece to Paul...), then nearby finds the kids camping out (Ronnie mentioned
the location). As I stated, she had little motive... they were simply in
her path. She uses the hatchet to butcher them then lurks in the woods waiting
Ricky has used the dinner making him supposedly sick to slip out for the
night. He enters Judy's cabin shortly after Mel leaves the cabin next to
it. At least on the DVD version, you can clearly see it is Ricky at the
door ready to kill Judy. Ricky in a wig, further suggesting his own genderbending
problems. We all know Felissa Rose wasn't allowed to play the "killing
hands" because her mother wouldn't have it and thus Jonathan Tiersten's
aptly male hands were used. Why could Felissa be used in the final screaming
scene but not a stand in the doorway? This seems definitely planned. He
returns from his "sickness" with an alibi, and grabs a candy bar
from the rec hall. As Ronnie receives word of the dead kids, Ricky looks
around for Angela who is in the woods nearby.
Mel takes out Ricky with repeated pummels. Ricky has denied Mel's claims
of being a killer even to now, because he has no chance against Mel, and
he possibly was indeed trying to drive Mel mad. Denying it feeds into that.
And mad is exactly what Mel was driven to. Why? Was part of it about Angela,
since maybe Mel's negligence (which he clearly shows many times in the film,
like in the rec hall when he doesn't break up the fight, and agreeing to
dinner with Meg, a younger girl) led to the idiot teens taking out the speedboat
that killed Angela's family. And, like I said before, Ricky has been at
camp before... there has to be history. Mel is too big a part of the story
to go unnoticed plot/mystery wise. So Ricky is almost dead and at the sound
of a snapping twig nearby, Mel goes off and is then surprised by Angela
who shoots him with an arrow left on the archery range. Fearing Ricky dead,
she heads to meet Paul, and with no guardian left, knows before she shows
him her secret what she is going to do... and so kills Paul and loses her
Conclusion: Aunt Martha did not restrain her meddling to Peter/Angela. Even
if she did, the fact that Ricky comes from her insane loins is simple reason
enough for him to be who he was. Of course, motives and responsibility assignment
to the kills can be mixed and matched depending on your school of thought...
nothing is absolute.