Sleepaway Camp II & III

Discussion in 'Reader Reviews' started by DVD-fanatic-9, May 8, 2011.

  1. DVD-fanatic-9

    DVD-fanatic-9 And the Next Morning, When the Campers Woke Up...

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    Counselor Superior

    [​IMG]
    Sleepaway Camp 2:
    Unhappy Campers

    (1988 / director: Michael A. Simpson)

    1/2*/5
    Let me run this by you as though you're a movie fan with the power to greenlight a film, here's the idea: after the brilliance of 1983's Sleepaway Camp which mixed the setting of Friday the 13th with the dark subversion of Carrie, what would you think of doing a no-budget, direct-to-video sequel in the spirit of Police Academy and turning the killer from a bullied girl getting revenge to a Nazi who ruins the party for everyone and then kills them because they don't agree with her uptight, puritanical values? Surely, you'd say the same thing I was thinking: why on Earth would we want a sequel that makes former victim Angela the bully? The movie's answer: relentless T&A, AIDS insensitivity, homophobic slurs, bad acting (although, in fairness, Renee Estevez - yes the sister of both Charlie Sheen and The Breakfast Club's Emilio Estevez - is okay), non-existent writing (I'm not kidding- this movie's numerous attempts at character conflict are as sloppy and jittery - and these are kind descriptions - as all the dialogue in Street Trash), bargain basement-quality special effects (these are by far the cheapest looking gore FX you're likely to see in the entire 80's output of the genre), and the chance to make Angela into a one-liner-spouting female Freddy Krueger.

    What can one say about something like that? Here's what: Serial Mom mastered this formula brilliantly 6 years later. And Unhappy Campers doesn't belong on the same planet as Serial Mom, let alone at the same table as the original Sleepaway. And if all this has to offer is some T&A, why wouldn't you just watch a porno instead? Or, better yet, go to Spring Break? Nevertheless, this sequel works like gangbusters on 80's horror hounds with no standards and has gone on to become a minor cult hit. Some even think the novelty of having Bruce Springsteen's real-life sister rack up such a huge bodycount or beefy male counselor T.C.'s Dave Coulier-styled frizzy mullet are enough to put this in the same league as the first film. However, it's movies like this that serve as a reminder of just how much insufferable shit populated the 80's. Which is bizarrely viewed as a precious decade by many hardcore horror fans (I mention this because many of them attacked Scream for no good reason and fail to realize how influential the 90's were to horror, to say nothing of how vastly superior they are to the last 12 years in the genre). Most of the time, excess is just plain stupid.


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    Any Last Words?

    [​IMG]
    Sleepaway Camp 3:
    Teenage Wasteland

    (1989 / director: Michael A. Simpson)

    **1/2/5
    A rare occurrence in the world of sequels: they actually realized the mistake they'd make previously and decided to fix it. Color me shocked! Angela is finally a camper again rather than a counselor and this time, they strive to find some kind of balance between her role as a victim in the first film and as a judgmental vigilante terminator in Unhappy Campers. She still kills a lot of people for moral reasons, but this time she actually gives them all a chance to "do right" by her first. Best of all, instead of going ape shit at the end and killing anyone in her sight, she doesn't even target a single person who doesn't viciously insult, threaten, or try to attack her first. And, hey- the plot actually has some ambition too. First of all, the cast of wrongdoers are either spoiled rich brats or desensitized jerk criminals. Secondly, the dialogue is a lot smarter. The plot revolves around Angela's entry into a kind of social diversity mix group- half the kids from the city, the other half from the suburbs. She disguishes herself as a Latina (after dispatching her) and they head out to the woods to do various "sharing and caring" exercises. Only, things don't turn out so well as the husband and wife who run the place are lazy, selfish, tax-cheating fornicators. Angela won't have that.

    The secret to the movie's half-success is that it really is very clever in comparison to the crapfest to come before it. Angela doesn't just change a little- she changes a lot. In addition to killing people for having sex, she also kills them for being racists, polluters, and violent thugs. As she dispatches a guy who aspires to become a politician for insinuating that she must be a slut because she's poor, she remarks: "thank God there'll be one less idiot in politics." I'd like to think she was referring to a republican (but in times like this, you really can't read a screenwriter's mind). Angela really is a much more likable and sympathetic character. There's a great scene where she walks out to the old main lodge-cabin from the second movie and reminisces on the happy day where she sang the "Happy Camper" song with a cheering crowd of...happy campers. A memory which obviously never took place (since she was so intolerable in the 2nd movie). It's actually a better scene than her blue-tinted nightmare from Unhappy Campers (a nice break from the onslaught of stupidity that was the rest of the movie). And finally- dear lord, the acting is greatly improved. I actually can't count on one hand the number of actors who are doing a genuinely good job (especially Mark Oliver and Cliff Brand, as Tony and Officer Whitmore).

    Like Renee Estevez in Unhappy, Teenage Wasteland (great title, by the way, and wonderfully fitting) continues the series' tradition (this eventually became a huge thing in direct-to-video flicks of the early 90's) of casting the siblings of huge stars. In her place as good-girl Marsha is Tracy Griffith, the beautiful, vivacious redheaded sister of Melanie (Working Girl, Something Wild). As previously mentioned, Angela in both sequels is played by Bruce Springsteen's sister, Pamela. But, back to Marsha. The greatest surprise of the movie is that there's a twist. No, it's not that Angela is somehow again able to survive a brutal stabbing without even screaming and ends the movie sitting in a triumphant position with a large grin on her face. It's that Marsha's not actually the girl you think she is. I know that's a bit of a spoiler but I'm not sure most people appreciate it. There's actually a lot right with the movie. I'd like to be able to give it a passing grade somehow but the special effects are so bad and again, the movie isn't scary. I hope I mentioned that with the last film. I guess you have to look at it this way: just because it's so much better than the last movie doesn't make it a classic. It's just a lot better than it gets credit for being. Some people call it worse than the 2nd film and that simply isn't true.
     
  2. Body Boy

    Body Boy Well-Known Member

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    Interesting retrospective. I actually like all three, but yeah, the first is supreme in every way. Unless all you want is gore, which means you're not really in the position to rate films anyhow. The decision to take an excellently characterized Angela and turn her into Mrs. Krueger really did not help the series, but did give some cheap fun. I see where you're coming from, and say that I partially agree, though I do love all three.

    I disagree with the 90s being a good horror decade though, as I think the 80s are one of the best, even with the SOV and tongue in cheekness of the last half. But 1980-1985 rocks me hard.
     
  3. DVD-fanatic-9

    DVD-fanatic-9 And the Next Morning, When the Campers Woke Up...

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    That's what I thought when I rented the VHS back in ... 2000, maybe. I actually liked Part 2 then. Then I got the DVD set in 2003 and didn't really put it in for awhile. When I did, it was shocking to see how wrong I was.


    Thanks.


    You know... I actually didn't mean to suggest that. Everyone on HD seems to think I love the 90's but that's not true. That's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying it's underrated in comparison to horror from the last decade and that everything horror has been doing in that decade (and hell, this last year and some change) was just copied from the 90's. They didn't create a new aesthetic or anything- they stole the shaky cam from... (am I wrong?) Saving Private Ryan, obviously CGI in horror got its' start in the 90's, and the whole thing about not wanting horror to be stylish. Trying to make them look gritty. Of course... that's not what horror in the 90's was, no- new millennium horror stole this from 90's thrillers, action films, and indie crime films. Seen Se7en recently? Watch that this week and come back here, give me one difference between that and any given new millennium horror film starting with Wrong Turn or Haute Tension.


    So do I. All my favorite horror films are from the 80's - Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Creepshow, Tenebre, Videodrome, Phenomena, Opera, the Friday the 13th films, Bad Taste, etc. (EDIT: I completely forgot The Evil Dead!)

    But I think the 70's were superior, and in addition to that, the 90's had their own identity in the genre and a great handful of criminally underrated films. What does the new millennium have?
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2011
  4. Matt89

    Matt89 Well-Known Member

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    Funny, I didn't know that was Emilio Estevez's sister (truth be told, I didn't know the actress's real name). And funny how Pamela Springsteen is also the sister of Bruce "The Boss" (greatest rocker of all fucking time) Springsteen.

    Heh...

    [​IMG]

    ~Matt
     
  5. DVD-fanatic-9

    DVD-fanatic-9 And the Next Morning, When the Campers Woke Up...

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    This movie should have tipped me off to that, but actually it was the audio commentary on Heathers.
     
  6. dave13

    dave13 Well-Known Member

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    testify, brother.
     
  7. Matt89

    Matt89 Well-Known Member

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    Haha, maybe it was a bold statement but I've loved Springsteen since I was a kid. My favorite songs growing up were probably Dancing in the Dark and Out in the Street. I guess there's people you just idolize, and as a kid I thought he was just really macho.

    But yeah, I would definitely argue that he was an excellent songwriter. I mean, he wrote over 60 songs during the sessions for Darkness on the Edge of Town and clearly he had a knack for writing not just catchy tunes, but excellent guitar riffs and pop hooks. And it was clear he wasn't in it for the money because for a popular musician, he really went in his own direction (rather unexpectedly) because you have his first two albums, Greetings from Asbury Park and The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, two very folk-oriented albums that didn't exactly go platinum. Born to Run, his first (arguably) full-out rock album pretty much jumpstarted his career.

    Yet, between 1975 and 1978 he returned to the sound he had essentially mastered on Asbury Park and E Street Shuffle, regardless of whether or not it would be successful (incidentally, it's now regarded as a masterpiece). He wrote dozens of pop songs during the Darkness sessions, but refused to put them out because he felt they didn't exactly fit with the mood of the album. They've since been released (as of last year, actually) as a separate, double-LP called "The Promise". Anyway, his pop album came out 2 years after Darkness when The River was released and what did he do? Decided to make an album by himself (in a low-fi, Paul McCartney "Ram" style) with Nebraska.

    I just think it's impressive that he was able to consistently put out good records and is one of the very few from his era to do so. He just really has a passion for what he does, regardless of what may not be a number one seller. He made some risky moves (with Nebraska and Darkness) but he made it work. Might be a bold statement, but I consider him to be one of the best songwriters and lyricists in all rock music.

    So I guess there's that, and the fact that I felt like his music really spoke to me as a kid (I know that sounds lame). His common theme seems to be blue-collar workers and the lives of working-class America. We certainly weren't rich when I was growing up (my dad worked construction, was always between jobs) and I saw something in his music that I could really relate to.

    ~Matt
     
  8. DVD-fanatic-9

    DVD-fanatic-9 And the Next Morning, When the Campers Woke Up...

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    Did he ever kick Reagen's ass (verbally) for misusing "Born in the U.S.A." to push conservative agenda?
     
  9. Matt89

    Matt89 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, Springsteen is known for being a liberal and actually was rather polite in telling Reagan that he wasn't supporting him. Reagan had misread the song entirely (Born in the USA is certainly NOT a song about American patriotism).

    It's funny, though, he tried to act as if he were a Springsteen fan and was asked what his favorite album was and all he could think of was "Born to Run". Needless to say, nobody believed him.

    Springsteen did, however, fully support Obama in his presidential campaign.

    ~Matt
     
  10. Mok

    Mok Family is Forever

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    I thought they were both kind of cheese movies. Honestly I couldn't tell them apart because about 15 minutes into either of them, my mind switches down a couple of levels and just gets a kick out of the whatever funny lines/kills/gore/etc. they have to offer.

    What did you think of Return? If you had a problem with that one it's probably because your ass stinks.
     
  11. CPT HOOK

    CPT HOOK Well-Known Member

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    Renee Estevez was also in Intruder, in addition to her roles in Sleepaway Camp 2 and Heathers.

    Another "famous sibling" appeared in Sleepaway Camp 3, Tracy Griffith (sister of Melanie).
     
  12. YottNik

    YottNik Pay the price!

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    2 and 3 are pretty much throwaways for me but I'll watch them every blue moon for a cheap laugh. The first, however, is classic and I love it.

    I enjoyed Return quite a bit.
     
  13. rhett

    rhett Administrator

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    Always had a soft spot for part two. It's tough to accept since it's so different in tone and style from the first (and fourth) film, but I found it clever enough and playfully lowbrow. That whole scene where the nerdy guy bones the camp slut still makes me laugh, especially the lead-in and then her line after it ("You don't have AIDS, do you?" or something to that effect). The third I found a pretty big waste, and like other back to back sequels (Bloodsport 2/3, Matrix 2/3, Pirates of the Carribean 2/3) the idea pool had run pretty dry by the third. Return was kind of amazing in that it felt like it could have been made as a sequel to the first film a year later. It's one of the only modern films I've ever seen that somehow, without any bit of self-consciousness or reflexivity, is able to tap so closely into the genesis and the era of what made the original film so enduring. Anyone who hasn't incorporated "YOUR ASS STINKS!" into their vocabulary by this point is no true Sleepaway fan.
     
  14. CPT HOOK

    CPT HOOK Well-Known Member

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    I love the entire franchise. The Survival Kit was one of my first DVD purchases (from Best Buy with the bonus disc), and I still say it is the best $20 I've ever spent. I can watch these movies over and over and never grow tired of them.

    I got Felissa Rose's autograph at a convention last year! I only met her briefly, but she was incredibly sweet. :)


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2011
  15. othervoice1

    othervoice1 Well-Known Member

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    I always really liked 2 and thought 3 was okay -
     
  16. Mitbox

    Mitbox Member

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    I love the original, and I remember having a good time with the sequels, but I never thought of them as bad as you did in this thread. With this in mind, I'd have to dust my survival kit and give part 2 + 3 a new spin.
     
  17. SaxCatz

    SaxCatz New Member

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    Wow...
    Good thing you don't need a solid head on your shoulders to put on a great show! :D
     
  18. dave13

    dave13 Well-Known Member

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    hey, its cool, and i was being completely genuine! i absolutely love springsteen. born in the usa was one of the first cassette tapes i ever owned. i don't know much about his earlier stuff, but devil's and dust was one of my favorite and most played albums when it came out.

    as far as the sleepaway camp films go, im surprised to hear all these positive words about return. from what i'd heard, i thought it was supposed to be a real stinker...
     
  19. deepred

    deepred Member

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    I've always loved the sequels and just think they are good fun. I find Pamela's performance wonderfully campy and I love the soundtracks too.
     
  20. DVD-fanatic-9

    DVD-fanatic-9 And the Next Morning, When the Campers Woke Up...

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    Well- I kinda liked Pamela too but... wow, that movie. Wrong on so many levels, it was almost incomprehensible. As I said, Serial Mom was a lot better at doing what SC2 tried to do.


    Could have gone with the Republican and thrown his integrity away entirely.
     

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