Sleepaway Camp II : Unhappy Campers - Collector's Edition (Blu-Ray) : Release Year - 1988

Overall Rating : 8/10

Directed By : Michael A. Simpson

Pamela Springsteen (Sleepaway Camp III : Teenage Wasteland)
Renee Estevez (Intruder)
Tony Higgins
Valerie Hartman

Supplied By : Shout! Factory/Scream! Factory

Film Reviewed By : Rick L. Blalock

Date Reviewed : June. 3, 2015


Welcome to Camp Rolling Hills! Meet your camp counselor, Angela Baker! She's the kind of counselor who enjoys camp songs, nature walks, board games andmurder. Five years after the horrific slaughter at Camp Arawak, Angela (Pamela Springsteen, Fast Times at Ridgemont High) has created a new position for herself as a counselor at Camp Rolling Hills. Angela is about to teach "bad campers" a brutal lesson in survival when they are sliced, stabbed, drilledand much worse.
SLEEPAWAY CAMP 2 : UNHAPPY CAMPERS picks up the story of trans-gendered killer Peter Baker some four years after the events of the first film. After the Camp Arawak massacre, Peter Baker was shipped off to a mental facility, and as the camp fire legend states, while there, had a tax funded sex change. Peter, now formally known as "Angela" has taken up a counseling job at another camp, Camp Rolling Hills. To her co-workers, she's the ideal Counselor(even earning the prestigious "Counselor of the Week Award), but to the young campers, she's a nightmare. However unbeknown to them, is just how literal that sentiment would soon get. It turns out that Angela Baker, now known by the alias "Angela Johnson" is still up to her old murderous tricks. Camp Rolling Hills this year, is full of wild, fun-loving teens, who love to do things such as participate in "panty raids" and engage in various acts of sex. But little do they know that someone is watching them. Keeping an eye out for anything that she deems "immoral", the do-good Counselor, soon takes matters into her own hands when she not only sends campers "home" - she sends them home in a body bag!

The journey of the first SLEEPAWAY CAMP sequel began in 1986, three years after the original film. Writer/Director Robert Hiltzik had penned a follow up script to his film. But when he approached his Producer Jerry Silva with his idea, Silver said that the script had a tone that was "too dark". Silva saw different plans for a sequel. He wanted the next film to have a more comedic tone. So with that, Hiltzik abandoned the idea of a sequel, and soon attended law school and started a family. The Sleepaway property sat around for awhile, until Silva revived it almost two years later. He then bought the rights to the property and opted to make two sequels. It is from here that Producer/Director Michael A. Simpson became involved, and the rest is history. Simpson and his crew embraced the Horror/Comedy idea, and began what would be two back-to-back sequels(shot only six weeks apart) in the state of Georgia.

When compared to the original film, one is quick to notice that the two films are very different, both in look and feel. Almost from the beginning, the film's more comedic tone shines straight through. While the first film was far more serious and gritty, it's follow up is much more over-the-top. The gore is more exaggerated and it goes out of its way to be funny, as it seems to poke fun at its genre. The drastic change of tone, seems to have, over the years, polarized the series' fan base. Some of the diehard fans of the original film dislike the two original sequels, while others have excepted them with open arms. So, where do I fit in, you ask? Well, I fit into that latter category - I happen to love the two Michael A. Simpson sequels. Although they are very different than the original, I think they're fun. The direction in which Writer Fritz Gordon chose to take the "Angela Baker" character in UNHAPPY CAMPERS is both clever and funny. Since the film is so different, you can basically view UNHAPPY CAMPERS as its own entity if you want to. Although it is technically tied to the original, it has its own qualities that make the film able to stand on it's own. I know that when I view UNHAPPY CAMPERS, I reserve no time to nitpick it, as it relates to the first film. I just choose to have fun with it, and in my opinion it's a great Slasher film.

When it comes to being a Horror/ Comedy, it works on a level that very few Horror/Comedies have reached. In my time, I have seen my share of Horror/Comedies. Some good, some bad(unfortunately a lot of them), but very few are as entertaining as SLEEPAWAY CAMP II : UNHAPPY CAMPERS. It just seems as though everyone working on the film had a good time, and fortunately, it comes across on screen. This seems to obviously ring true in the performance of Pamela Springsteen, who seems to have fully embraced the "Angela" character. You'd think that taking over a character, that had already been portrayed by another Actress in a previous film would prove to be a heavy task for just about anyone. However, here, Springsteen takes the role of zesty camp Counselor/killer head-on with energy and wit. While I am fully aware that as the villain, it is by default, that she is meant to be the "bad guy". But just like the characters "Freddy Krueger" and "Jason Voorhees"(Ironically, both of whom are spoofed in this film), that have become icons within the Horror genre, it's because of SLEEPAWAY CAMP II : UNHAPPY CAMPERS that the character of "Angela Baker" became even more memorable to fans. While the character was already quite memorable before the sequels, due to the original film's shocking twist ending, the sequels went on to further cement the character, due to its many over-the-top kills, as well as their witty dialogue.

True, often times, sequels take ideas introduced in previous films in new directions. Yes sometimes it's an awful decision by the "powers that be", and other times, the changes truly do improve upon the old material. But then there is a time in which a sequel is written with a whole different outlook. Taken is the general idea, however liberties are taken and new ideas are applied to it. This is what happed with SLEEPAWAY CAMP II : UNHAPPY CAMPERS and was continued in SLEEPAWAY CAMP III : TEENAGE WASTELAND. Again, it is true that SLEEPAWAY CAMP II : UNHAPPY CAMPERS is a film that opted to go in an entirely new direction than its predecessor, but that doesn't at all make it a bad film. In fact, it is a fun-spirited, enjoyable Slasher romp that has many things about it that make it a Slasher film that is easy to revisit.

SCREAM! FACTORY presents the film as a "Collector's Edition" Blu-Ray with a number of features. These include featurettes, a behind-the-scenes doc, and a short film along with a still gallery, and the film's home video trailer.

Here are a few details about some of these features :

" A Tale of Two Sequels : Part One - Back to Camp" (28m 6s) : Part one of a very interesting two part documentary that chronicles the making of the two Simpson helmed sequels. Those interviewed are : Sleepaway Camp Web master, Jeff Hayes, Director Micheal A. Simpson, Editor John David Allen, Director of Photography Bill Mills, Art Director Frank Galline, Effects Artist Bill "Splat" Johnson, and Actress Amy Fields("Jodi Shote")

Abandoned- The Filming Locations of SLEEPAWAY CAMP II & III (15m 28s) : "Andy The Woo" is our tour guide as he tours the grounds where the rundown camp that was used the the sequels once stood.

Behind the Scenes footage narrated by Director Michael A. Simpson (13m 21s)

Short film : "Whatever Happened to Molly?" (50s) : This 50 second fan film speculates on the idea of what possibly could've happened to Renee Estevez's "Molly" character after the credits, utilizing unused pages of Fritz Gordon's original script. The topic has always been brought up among fans, "did Molly live, or did she die in the end?". This short(really short) film offers one possible conclusion.
6/10 Lots of blood spatter. There are also things such as a severed tongue, a burnt corpse, slit throats, multiple stabbings, acid to ones face, a beheading and more.
8/10 Aside from the traditional suspense scoring. SLEEPAWAY CAMP II features a pretty rocking soundtrack. Featuring tracks from artists such as Anvil, Hurricane, Obsession and John Altyn, the soundtrack puts you in the right kind of mood right from the film's opening credits.
As i've said, I really enjoy SLEEPAWAY CAMP II : UNHAPPY CAMPERS each time I see it. I even like it just as much as the original, and as I also mentioned, I could watch it all on its own. It's a Horror/Comedy, it's supposed to be fun. And that is exactly what it is in my opinion. However, to sum it up - some like it, some don't I just happen to be one of those who do enjoy this film.

Special Features include :

- Audio Commentary With Director Michael A. Simpson And Writer Fritz Gordon
- A Tale Of Two Sequels Part One Featuring New Interviews With Director Michael A. Simpson, Cinematographer Bill Mills, Editor John David Allen And More
- Abandoned The Filming Locations Of SLEEPAWAY CAMP II & III A Tour Of The Shooting Locales
- Behind-The-Scenes Footage With Commentary By Michael A. Simpson
- Home Video Promotional Trailer
- Still Gallery

This film will be released on Blu-Ray Combo Pack Collector's Edition on June 9, 2015


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