EXCLUSIVE: The 1983 slasher pic Sleepaway Camp earned a spot in horror history with its infamous shocker of a twist ending, which I won’t spoil here. But like many an ’80s horror franchise, its staying power petered out with a string of subsequent sequels. Now ex–Fox/New Line exec Jeff Katz is trying to inject new blood into the Sleepaway Camp franchise by reviving the summertime screamer for a new generation. He’s optioned remake rights from the original movie’s trio of makers and rights holders: Writer/director-turned-lawyer Robert Hiltzik, producer Michele Tatosian, and actress Felissa Rose, who starred in the 1983 pic as Angela, the bullied teen protagonist whose summer turns into a bloodbath when a killer begins offing campers. Producing alongside Hiltzik, Tatosian, and Rose, Katz aims to reboot the Sleepaway Camp mythos in a modern setting with a new film series that echoes its legacy and the psychosexual elements that made the first pic such a memorable cult favorite. Meanwhile, Shout Factory used the Halloween holiday to announce that it will release the original pic to Blu-ray for the first time in the spring.
Although Sleepaway Camp is celebrated by horror fans, its legacy suffered from rampant sequelitis. Hiltzik held on tight to remake rights for years after three more installations were churned out by other filmmakers, then came back to helm Return To Sleepaway Camp in 2003 as a direct sequel to his original film, ignoring the rogue sequels that came before. But he took 5 years to fine-tune VFX, and it wasn’t released until 2008 in a direct-to-video deal with Magnolia. A third Hiltzik-helmed Sleepaway Camp pic was announced but never materialized. With someone else taking a stab, the floundering franchise could get a much-needed refresh; a search for a writer will follow after the group takes the ready-made title out to studios. Katz is repped by UTA.