Friday, June 12, 2015

Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
Welcome to Camp Rolling Hills! Meet you camp counselor, Angela Baker! She’s the kind of counselor who enjoys camp songs, nature board games and…murder. 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, drilled… and much worse. Renee Estevez (Heathers, Intruder) and Walter Gotell (The Spy Who Loved Me) co-star in this outrageous sequel to the original cult classic.

Film (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
So… Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers. What can I say? It’s a follow up to the cult classic Sleepaway Camp. A movie which terrified me as a child when I watched is as an eight-year-old at a friend’s slumber party. In no way does it even try to stack up to the original. It’s a light-hearted attempt at being an 80s slasher film. The filmmakers knew they couldn’t live up to the first film, so they just tried to continue the story and not be totally serious. I liked that they did that.

As the story begins, campers at Camp Rolling Hills are sitting around a campfire telling ghost stories. When it gets to the “I know a guy whose sister’s friend’s cousin” urban legend, someone begins telling the story of Angela Baker and the murders at Camp Arawak. While telling the story, camp counselor Angela (yes, THAT Angela), interrupts them and pulls the long girl away from the group. She tells her that she’s going to send her home and is never seen again.

As campers break the rules, play pranks, have sex, drink, etc., they are all “sent home” by Angela. All the campers sent home are the ones assigned to Angela. One night when the girls have a camp out in the woods, Angela finds out that a couple of the boys plan on trying to scare her by dressing up as Freddy Krueger and Leatherface. Angela tells the girls she forgot her pillow and waits for the guys to head out to the camp site. She finds them in the woods and “sends them home.”

“Uncle John,” the head of the camp and T.C., the lead counselor, grow tired of Angela sending all the campers home and fire her. Molly, the last camper assigned to her, follows her into the woods to Angela’s secret place and tries to talk to her. However, when Angela’s secret is found out, she takes Molly captive in the abandoned cabin she uses as her hideaway. Molly escapes, but Angela catches her and watches as Molly falls off a ledge. Angela returns to the camp and finishes her business, then hitches a ride out of the area. Little does she know that Molly survived and also leaves the camp.

The story for this film really is lacking, but that’s okay with me. It worked. It’s pretty much people being “bad campers” and getting killed. I’m not a huge fan of camping and as I said in my review of Sleepaway Camp, the one time I did go away to camp, I was too scared to do anything. The actors were good. Unfortunately, Felissa Rose, the original Angela does not reprise her role. Pamela Springsteen was really good as Angela and looked enough like what 19-year-old Angela would look like. The acting by everyone was average, but good for an 80s “horror” film. 
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
While nothing to write home about, the 1080p high-definition widescreen presentation of Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers is good enough. It’s an 80s sort of horror movie, so there are a lot of night scenes. All the night scenes were good. The picture was clear and not too dark, and they looked as realistic as they could given the technology of the day. 
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
The 2.0 DTS-Master Audio for Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers was good. Like the video, it’s nothing spectacular, but everything was easily heard. The chainsaw used had an even sound to the rest of the film and the volume of the screams was too high or pitchy. I found that I didn’t have to adjust the volume as everything had appropriate sound levels and flowed well together. English subtitles are available if you so desire.
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
I enjoyed watching the special features that were include on the Blu-ray. Even though they are mostly typical features, they were interesting and help my attention. I especially enjoyed the tour of the camp used in the movie.
  • A Tale of Two Sequels: Part One – Twenty eight minutes of behind-the-scenes footage complete with interviews. It’s a really rough cut, sort of like video camera interviews and footage. The interviews were interesting and the viewer really gets a look at how the movie was made.
  • Abandoned: The Filming Locations of Sleepaway Camp II and III – Fifteen and one-half minutes of the locations for both Sleepaway Camp sequels. A couple of fans take the viewer on a tour of the abandoned YMCA camp used in both sequels. At the time of course, it wasn’t abandoned; now, however, it’s all overgrown and nature has taken back the grounds. This was actually really interesting.  The buildings are crumbled, the pool is filled with algae and everything is in ruins.  Super creepy!
  • Behind the Scenes Footage – Thirteen minutes of behind-the-scenes footage narrated by the director.  In it, he talks about how they came up with some of the ideas for scenes, the effects, make up and much more.
  • Home Video Trailer – The trailer announcing the release of the home video.
  • Short Film: Whatever Happened to Molly?A really short film about what could have happened to Molly.  And by short, I mean less than one minute. I expected an actually short film.
  • Still Gallery – Seven minutes of a slideshow with photos from the film and from the production. There’s no narration or background music and after about 30seconds I was super bored.

Under the Audio Setting
  • Audio Commentary with Director Michael A. Simpson and Writer Fritz Gordon

Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
Yes, I rated the second in the series the same as the first. Though Sleepaway Camp: Unhappy Campers didn’t live up to its predecessor, it still held my attention and was a typical 80s slasher film. The movie wasn’t as good, because the story was lacking a little… it was more like kids to bad things and die… if you include the features, it was still just as good. While I might not watch it as often as the first one, it is definitely a movie I will keep for a rainy day.

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