Scream Factory unspools another awesome Collector's Edition for the sequel to one of the classiest horror movies of the 1980s: Sleepaway Camp!. With its gender-bending anti-hero, Angela, and only the best dialogue - "Eat shit and live, Bill." - Sleepaway Camp is a family favorite, at least in my house. Its sequel, Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers, is a lot more campy, with a sharp self-awareness that rivals later films like Scream. Little Angela is all grown up, and takes her job as counselor at Camp Rolling Hills very seriously. Unhappy Campers plays like a parody of the original, and gives Angela the opportunity slice and dice up her naughty campers.
Angela (Pamela Springsteen, sister of Bruce) is none too pleased that the girls in her cabin would rather flash their breasts to the boys and sleep around all summer than enjoy some wholesome camp activities. Unfortunately for these (un)necessarily naked ladies, Angela does not take "no" for an answer. She begins "sending home" campers at will, which upsets camp leader Uncle John (Walter Gotell) and the boys' head counselor, T.C. (Brian Patrick Clarke). The practical effects from series regular Bill "Splat" Johnson are gory fun.
Those looking for a well-written, thoughtful film should not press play, but fans of over-the-top '80s horror will find a lot to love. Springsteen gives a ridiculously cheery performance as Angela, and Camp Rolling Hills feels like the summer camp from hell. The near-adult campers sit around singing camp songs and telling ghost stories, so it is no surprise that a rowdier segment turns to booze, drugs and sex to pass the time. Angela is determined to give her campers the pleasant summer she never had at Camp Arawak, and kills anyone who rocks the boat. In the true sprit of '80s summer camp, there is absolutely no accountability for the campers, who disappear at random throughout the summer.
The death scenes are fairly creative, though Unhappy Campers is not a suspenseful film. Angela drills, barbecues and hoists her campers up a flagpole to death, all to hilarious results. Some fans of the original did not appreciate the drastic tonal change in director Michael A. Simpson's film, but something drastic had to be done after little Angela revealed her true gender at the end of Sleepaway Camp. This film's "final girl" is Molly (Renee Estevez, sister of Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen), a fairly sympathetic character who initially befriends Angela.
There is not exactly a coherent story here, and Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers is mostly a string of kills structured around everyday camp life. There is a current of '80s sleaze in the nonstop nudity and questionable behavior of the older males, and Angela is the film's angel of death, cleansing the wicked. This is an entertaining sequel, though the lack of suspense is somewhat disappointing. Fortunately, the over-the-top death scenes and wink-wink humor fill this void.
This is the best Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers has ever looked on home video, though this 1.78:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is not without issues. Print damage is minimal, and I did not notice any particularly egregious noise reduction or edge halos. Fine-object detail is decent, though wide shots have a softer appearance. Brightly lit daytime scenes look a bit washed out, with muted colors and blooming highlights. Black levels are usually good, and shadow detail is abundant.
This DTS-HD mono track is decent, though not particularly immersive. Dialogue is clear but somewhat anemic, and the effects are front-loaded. The score had some weight, and all elements are balanced appropriately. English subtitles are available.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
This two-disc set includes the Blu-ray and a DVD copy of the film. The discs are packed in a standard case. The cover artwork is two-sided. The front contains newly commissioned artwork and the back features the classic poster art. The slipcover duplicates the new artwork.
Scream Factory compiles a number of interesting supplements for horror fans: You get an Audio Commentary by Director Michael A. Simpson and Writer Fritz Gordon, moderated by Web host John Klyza, that should please fans. This information is both scene-specific and general, and the tone is light throughout. A Tale of Two Sequels: Part I (28:06/HD) features interviews with Simpson, editor John David Allen, DP Bill Mills, Art Director Frank Galline, SFX creator "Splat" Johnson and actress Amy Fields. This is a fun piece, with lots of stories about the production. Scream Factory apparently approached Springsteen to participate but she declined, which is a shame. Abandoned: The Filming Locations of Sleepaway Camp II & III (15:28/HD) follows Tyler Patrick and "Adam the Woo" as they visit the original filming locations from both sequels. This is a little dry, but nice to have. You also get some rough Behind-the-Scenes Footage (13:21/HD) and a short film, What Happened to Molly? (0:50/HD), which shows what was supposed to happen to a particular character. Things wrap up with a Home Video Trailer (2:24/HD) and a Stills Gallery (7:07 total/HD).
Scream Factory continues to release cult classics on Blu-ray, and horror fans will definitely want to add Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers to their Blu-ray collection. This sequel is purposely not scary, and it instead ramps up the self-aware humor and ridiculous death scenes. Pamela Springsteen gives a fun performance as an all-grown-up, murderous Angela. Recommended.