Sleepaway Camp was released to the USA in 1983, but had it appeared in
the United Kingdom at that time its distributors would surely be lynched,
as the "Video Nasties" campaign was still in motion. For that reason perhaps,
it wasn't until the mid-80's that the British arm of CBS/Fox Video Ltd
acquired the UK video rights and bypassed theatrical distribution altogether.
Either to cater more to the mainstream
video watcher or to stave off any realization of infamy, CBS/Fox tagged
on the new title Nightmare Vacation, before submitting a print to the
BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) for rating. The men and women
of the BBFC probably leaked in their ironed underwear because they, following
the screening, gave the film an X Rating with laundry list of cuts to
reduce to a legal rating. Subsequently, a staggering 57 seconds of cuts
were required to obtain an R 18 Certificate (no one under 18) for public
consumption. Much of the gore flew by, but oddly, shots as the screaming
boiling Artie and some of Meg's dead body shots were trimmed. Most puzzling
of all however, is the ending, where Angela's full frontal shots are seen,
but every close up of her screaming face are not! Truly, the mind baffles
at just what these cuts were meant for. Sadly, the best thing about the
Pal cassette is the packaging commissioned.
For Nightmare Vacation 2 the story gets
worse. In 1988, not long after Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers was released
in the US, Futuristic Entertainment Ltd were poised to release the sequel
in the UK, but not before the self-appointed gatekeepers of morality,
the BBFC again, would have their way. Things had not changed, and the
splatter horror/comedy would lose approximately 2 minutes and 16 seconds
of gore and nudity to gain an R. As with the first film cuts, those dorky
Brits made some questionable censoring... most remains but Ally's entire
death scene following her ambush by Angela at the abandoned cabin is missing.
The following month, before general release
of the shorn sequel, Futuristic Entertainment submitted the Nightmare
Vacation 2 video trailer for approval. All trailers must receive a general
rating before being attached to other videos. The trailer showcased mildly
the grisly deaths at only over a minute and a half but had 9 seconds of
censoring imposed, losing the point.
Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland was
clearly less bloodier than its predecessor. So in 1990 the third chapter
passed through the BBFC without any cuts, for an R 18 Certificate again.
Whether or not it was the freer promise of a new decade, British genre
fans would have reason to rejoice when Nightmare Vacation 3 hit the rental
shelves 100% un-tampered.
This story does have a happy ending, because in 2004 Anchor Bay UK released
the movies to the country in their proper forms, with the original titles,
and bettering the USA versions by containing the first USA DVD's cut footage
(not in the film, but as an easter egg at least). Ironic, that the land
on earth where the most butchery of Sleepaway Camp was incurred, should
eventuate as the global-best availible source of uncensored footage!