Review Date: August 14, 2002
Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 8/20/2002
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
Well campers, Angela is back! Once again Anchor Bay has done right by Sleepaway Camp fans, releasing both Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers and Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland onto DVD. Each is presented in an anamorphic widescreen transfer and comes with good amount of supplements. Now, anyone that read my review to the first Sleepaway Camp DVD knows that I wasn't a big fan of the movie. Is there any chance of Sleepaway Camp II and III changing my opinion? I have my doubts, but as always I'm going in with an open mind and hoping for the best. Lets get the ball rolling by taking a look at Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers.
Also, a word of warning before you read on. If you don't know who Angela is, you better skip The Story section of this review. It contains potential spoilers to the first Sleepaway Camp movie.
Everyone's favorite camper is back! Several years and a sex change later, Angela (Pamela Springsteen - sister of singer Bruce Springsteen) is going camping once again. This time it's not as a camper, but as a counselor at Camp Rolling Hills. As a group of campers sit around a fire telling scary stories - one of which includes Angela's murderous rampage several years back, Angela the counselor shows up to breakup the festivities and bring Phoebe (Heather Binion), a female camper, back to her cabin. As Phoebe begins complaining and telling Angela to screw, Angela briefly ponders how to best handle the situation. She ultimately decides to handle Phoebe in the typical Angela fashion.
Working along side Angela at Camp Rolling Hills is T.C. (Brian Patrick Clarke), the head counselor, and Uncle John (Walter Gotell), the owner. As the campers begin to settle in, the usual teenage adventures begin. Campers are smoking pot, drinking alcohol, having sex, taking nude pictures, and playing practical jokes. It's no surprise when Angela starts killing off the bad campers one by one and then telling the other counselors that she sent them home for bad behavior. Angela is soon pushed to her breaking point when she is fired by T.C. and Uncle John for sending too many campers home without permission. Now, good or bad, all of the remaining campers are in for the shock of their lives as they discover who Angela really is and what she intends to do to them.
I have to admit that even though I wasn't expecting any enjoyment from Sleepaway Camp II, I did in fact enjoy it. I'm not sure if this is considered blasphemy by Sleepaway Camp fans, but I honestly enjoyed part 2 more than the original. The original just had so many problems, from bad acting to cheesy dialogue and ridiculous plot holes. Part 2 has more of a humor element, and it certainly isn't meant to be taken seriously. This time around you know who the killer is and you get to watch her do the killings, many of which are quite inventive. It was also nice to see small homages to various 80's slashers like Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street - a great touch.
Now don't get me wrong, no oscars are going to be awarded out here and the movie certainly isn't going to end up on any 'Top 10' lists. But I can appreciate that while Sleepaway Camp II is still a bad movie, at least it was done in the appropriate tongue-in-cheek manner, not taking itself seriously for a minute. For me that really made it all the more enjoyable. And I did come to love Pamela Springsteen as Angela. Angela loves camping and, minus the killings, is a good camp counselor. Pamela really nails the part, portraying an Angela we can all like and, for those of us who have been to camp, can relate to. At the same time we can see the homicidal maniac behind those happy eyes and wide grin.
At a runtime of 80 minutes the movie still manages to drag at certain points. There is a dream sequence where there are several flashbacks to earlier scenes in the movie - obvious time filler. Personally, I would have preferred the movie be around 75 minutes in length. Overall, however, the movie does move along at a nice pace, which is also due to the short running time.
All in all Sleepaway Camp II is an enjoyable movie. There's plenty of nudity, a good amount of gore, decent effects, and some good humor. If you don't take it too seriously, or expect something like Friday the 13th, I think horror fans will enjoy this one.
Anchor Bay presents Sleepaway Camp II in an anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen transfer. I'm sure it goes without saying that this is the best Sleepaway Camp II has ever looked, and is quite possibly the best it ever will look. Having said that, this transfer still has a few noteworthy problems. Many scenes appear soft and lacking in detail. Some of the nighttime scenes contain grain, most of which is light, but there are times when heavy grain appears. I saw no print damage on the transfer, which was impressive. Colors are a bit on the dull side, lacking any real vividness.
Sleepaway Camp is presented in Dolby Mono sound. Dialogue and soundtrack were crisp and clear with no distortion detected.
While not a fully loaded special edition, Anchor Bay has included several supplements on the DVD. First up is the commentary track with director Michael A. Simpson, writer Fritz Gordon, and John Klyza of the Sleepaway Camp Films web site. It's a shame they couldn't get Pamela Springsteen on the track. John acts as moderator for the commentary; thank god for that. John does a fine job of keeping the commentary going by asking questions, throwing out various facts and information about the movie, particular scenes, and actors. Unfortunately, neither Michael or Fritz has much to say about the movie. Their answers are usually very short and are often not very detailed. It was clear that neither of them really has a passion for the movie, yet it's equally clear that John does. Good call by Anchor Bay to use him as a moderator. Otherwise this commentary would have been horrible instead of just decent.
Next is 13 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage and outtakes with commentary by director Michael Simpson. Michael explains what's going on during each particular segment of the behind-the-scenes footage, though he's silent during the majority of it. It's interesting and somewhat humorous footage to watch that fans will no doubt enjoy seeing.
Rounding out the supplements is a teaser trailer for Sleepaway Camp III, a trailer for Sleepaway Camp II, and three still galleries titled 'Behind the Scenes & Artwork', 'Abandoned Cabin Scene', and 'Make-Up Effects.' In total there are about 3 or 4 dozen photos in the galleries, all of which are enjoyable and of high quality. I particularly enjoyed the 'Behind the Scenes & Artwork' gallery. It was nice seeing the various cast and crew members posting for photos with one another, as well as seeing some of the artwork for various video releases.
I was pleasantly surprised by Sleepaway Camp II. While it's not for everyone, particularly those wanting a straight up horror movie, I can see why people enjoy it. Its tongue-in-cheek approach was dead-on for this sort of movie. Anchor Bay has released a fine DVD containing a good transfer, as well as some enjoyable supplements that are well worth the $20 price tag.
Movie - B
Image Quality - B-
Sound - B+
Supplements - B
- Running time - 1 hour 20 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- English Dolby Digital Mono
- Commentary with director Michael A. Simpson, writer Fritz Gordon, and John Klyza of the Sleepaway Camp Films web site
- Behind-the-scenes footage
- Teaser trailer to Sleepaway Camp III
- Photo galleries