Sleepaway Camp has one of the craziest and most memorable twist-endings of any movie you’ll ever see – it’s what the movie is known for. So it only seemed natural that when I posted my review of Sleepaway Camp to my Facebook page, I received a number of comments about that insane final scene. Those were the comments I was getting from the guys, anyway. Many of the girls, however, (particularly the ones around my age) were making comments about a different scene that had been etched into their memories – a scene referred to more than once as the “curling iron to the coochie” scene.
If you’ve seen the movie then you know they were, of course, referring to the death of Judy at the hands of the killer. Only shown in shadow, Judy’s death was actually less visually gruesome than the other murders that took place at the camp, but it obviously made a much more lasting impression. I suppose it makes sense that the thought of taking a hot probe to the lady-parts would have a much bigger impact on the memories of those who do in fact own lady-parts, but I think there’s more to it than that. This was the 80s, after all, when the ability to wield a curling iron and giant can of ozone-depleting Aquanet were as crucial to a high school girl as the skillful use of a bow and arrows were to Robin Hood (Those bangs weren’t going to make themselves big). A curling iron wasn’t merely a styling tool, it was a trusted friend, so there’s more at work than simple sympathy pains that make the “curling iron to the coochie” so memorable to my female contemporaries. For a girl of the 80s, the poetic justice of being killed by one’s own curling iron is the same as that of a great warrior being felled by his own sword. More than just a cringe-inducing way to die, “curling iron to the coochie” is a literary tragedy that exemplifies an entire generation.
And that’s why Judy’s curling iron is an unsung hero of 80s horror.