Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988)

Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988)

When you go camping just take the essentials

Angela has been released from a mental asylum and whilst she was there she underwent a full sex change to become a woman. She gets a job as a counsellor at a summer camp and everything seems normal. That is until teenagers start to break the rules and she has to punish them – by death.

 

Sleepaway Camp may not one of the strongest of the 80s slasher breed but it is definitely the one you’ll never forget should you ever watch it. With one of the most shocking and pretty darn nightmarish endings ever, it became a cult hit. And with success and fame come sequels. Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers completely abandons everything that made the original such a unique horror film by ditching the gloomy edge, the freaky characters and the shocking revelations. Instead we get a completely campy, moronic, typical 80s body count flick complete with plenty of T&A and gore. The acting is dire. The dialogue is awful. The film itself looks terrible with lots of grain, bad lighting and awful sound but it all adds to the ‘seedy and I shouldn’t be watching this’ feel that a lot of older 80s films have on video. But there’s just something so entertaining about it all that compels you to keep watching. This is the ultimate cheesy slasher film.

I wasn’t a big fan of the original but Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers is about as radical a rethink of a series as I can recall. It’s a move which has both good and bad points. I mean I lost count of the gratuitous nudity after the fourth breast shot and there was more to come. It’s mainly the same couple of skanks that get naked but at least they chose the ones with decent racks! There is a pretty good body count as people get their heads and hands hacked off quite a lot. There’s death by drowning in an outhouse, a human barbecue and someone getting killed with a Freddy Kruger no less! Hell even a couple of voyeuristic kids aren’t immune to the body count. If I didn’t know better, I’d say the film was bordering on a parody but that’s giving the filmmakers too much credit. However there are a few in-jokes towards the genre including having a few of the characters dressing up as Jason, Freddy and Leatherface.

The film is far too stupid at times and it’s virtually plot-less. We know who the killer is right from the opening scene so gone is the element of surprise. Then the film just plods along, having Angela kill off a teenager every ten to fifteen minutes or so. Angela was a quiet, shy girl in the original whom you didn’t expect to be the killer come the final revelation. Here she has grown up and is now a one-liner slasher ala Freddy Kruger in later years, who dispatches her victims with numerous funny and unfunny quotes.

Pamela Springsteen (yes, she is related to Bruce) will either annoy the hell out of you or amuse you with her over-the-top approach to the role of Angela. She did both for me and after a while being annoyed with her enthusiasm, I grew to like her in the role. The infectious enthusiasm she brings to the role certainly pushes the character over the limits of sanity. Also in the ‘more famous relative’ category is Renée Estevez, sister of Emilio, who plays the role of the final girl with as much conviction of a worm in a bird’s nest.

The rest of the cast look way too old to be going to summer camp anyway and I actually thought they were fellow counsellors at first! They are made up the usual teen fodder characters – you’ll be hard pressed to remember any of their names both real or characters once the film is over. There’s the shy final girl, the slut, the jocks, the straight-laced hero and a dude with one of the best 80s mullets ever. Seriously this guy just reeks of the 80s. Also on the cast list is Walter Gotell, who will probably be more famous for his many appearances as the head of Russian intelligence in the James Bond films.

 

Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers uses a completely different approach to the genre than the original did. What made the original so unique wouldn’t have worked for a second time so instead we get a fun but incredibly stupid slasher film which is ideal for parties but not for film critics.

 

 ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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