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Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers – 6

Director – Michael Simpson

Cast – Pamela Springsteen, Renee Estevez, Tony Higgins, Valerie Hartman, Brian Patrick Clarke, Walter Gotell, Susan Marie Snyder, Terry Hobbs

Release Year – 1988

Reviewed by John of the Dead

1983 slasher classic Sleepaway Camp remains one of my favorite horror films and definitely one of my all-time favorite slasher flicks. Not only are the kills great but the story itself is an engaging one and concludes with one of horror’s most shocking climaxes, and the carnage continues with Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers. While not as good nor as enjoyable as its predecessor, this sequel continues the summer camp chaos with numerous cheesy kills and results in a fun effort despite not offering much more than that.

After years of grueling psychological therapy and gender-reassignment surgeries, Angela Baker (Pamela Springsteen) is back at Sleepaway Camp, this time landing a job as a camp counselor. Despite electro-shock treatment and the drastic changes her body has endured, her murderous rage still resides within her, bringing forth an “old fashioned” way to deal with the wayward campers and ensure they do not return next summer.

Fans of Sleepaway Camp should find joy in knowing that this sequel continues much of the same antics loved in the original. Right from the get-go we are thrown into the murderous carnage surrounding Angela, now a person of “power” at the camp. Happy teens looking for a good time away from home are in for a very shocking surprise as Angela kills them off one by one for committing acts of fornication and other wayward activities she finds ill-will in. The camp administration begins to take notice to the ever-increasing number of campers Angela has “sent home”, and soon enough she lets it all go and initiates an onslaught on any living soul she comes in contact with. While both Sleepaway Camp and this follow-up are cheesy 80s slashers, the biggest difference between the two is that the original is a more serious effort. So, those of you thinking Sleepaway Camp is not a serious film at all, you know what to expect in this sequel. This is seen in the reasoning behind Angela’s killing, where in the first film she was killing for a reason and in this sequel she is eventually killing for no reason at all. I did not mind the lack of substance behind her kills in this film, but I do feel that it hindered the experience slightly story-wise. There are numerous kills written into the film – so many that I did not count them – but by the end of the film you definitely feel and realize that she is just killing to kill and the focus of horror was lost…but at least there are lots of kills?

Director Michael Simpson did a pretty positive job with this piece, giving us “the goods” often and in fun fashion. Truthfully it would have been hard for him (easy for Uwe Boll) to screw this piece up given all of the kills it had written into it, and he executed the most important elements of the film fairly well. The kills did not come with the utmost amount of gore, but they came with enough live-action FX to leave me smiling. The acting performances were as expected for such a film, neither good nor bad, but surprisingly enough Bruce Springsteen’s sister did well despite her short acting career. In addition to these elements I enjoyed the atmosphere provided by Simpson, which consisted of the usual secluded and somewhat creepy wooded summer camp area that left the campers with places to hide, but nowhere to really “run” to. Excellent.

Overall, Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers is a fun sequel sure to please fans of the original. The film’s highest selling point is its high number of kills, and for an 80s horror sequel you can’t expect much more than that, especially when a high kill count is more than good enough.

Rating: 6/10

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