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Here at Four Horsemen Films, we're dedicated to some of the very best and worst cinematic masterpieces you know, love, and despise. Think of us as Bad Movies for Bad People, or as a liaison to the inner sanctum of cinema. Or, just think of us as quick and entertaining reads. That's what Four Horsemen Films is all about.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988)

Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988)

Written By: Fritz Gordon

Directed By: Michael A. Simpson

Starring: Pamela Springsteen, Renee Estevez, Brian Patrick Clarke, Walter Gotell

Country of Origin: United States of America

The Idea:
In the brief time that has passed since my review of the original Sleepaway Camp, the movie has grown on me rapidly and given me a far different perspective of the genre it was infringing on upon its creation. Sleepaway Camp is, mind the pun, “campy,” and serves as great horror schlock that allows for you and yours to create your own serious of hilarious in-jokes. Right now, I could peer at a complete stranger, and then, upon examination, turn back to my friends and simply say “man, oh man!” Within moments they would connect that to Sleepaway Camp and understand I was referring to the size of that stranger’s breasts. Fun, huh?

When the time finally came to sit down and watch Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers, expectations ran much higher than they had for the first film. And even though the sequel can’t compare to the original in any form whatsoever, it maintains a lot of the spirit of the original film throughout its horrible acting, bad dialogue, and questionable “camp” experience. I have never been so thankful to have missed out on summer camp as I was when I watch these movies.

A little history lesson to set the scene: Angela Baker is now something of legend and Camp Arawak is long forgotten. If you’re unfamiliar with all of this, brush up by reading the original review. Anyway, we’ve reconvened at Camp Rolling Hills, where the story of Angela Baker has been passed around from person to person as a campfire tale. However, nobody seems to put the simplest of concepts together when their “letter-of-the-law” counselor Angela tells them to stop telling ghost stories. Yep, she’s the same one, but none of them are bright enough to solve the mystery.

In all fairness, that isn’t even the most mind-boggling storyline in the first 15 minutes. You see, the story seems to relay the message that despite killing dozens of people, Angela, then a minor, was sent to years of psychotherapy where she received a full-blown sex change (making her hoo-hoo dilly into a cha-cha) and was then released. Even OJ couldn’t have gotten away that easy, but I digress.

After setting all of these wonderful guidelines down for the innocent and often assumed moronic viewer, the film moves rapidly (just under 80 minutes) with Angela offing each camper for their various indiscretions, all the time maintaining that they violated some sort of camp rule and had to promptly be sent home. This is the film’s strongest point, and probably only strong point thus far. One of the most redeeming factors of the Sleepaway Camp series is the innovative and often uncomfortable methods of murder. Whereas characters met their demise with curling irons and beehives in movie one, movie two executes the use of a power drill, barbecue grill, and, lest we forget, a port-o-potty. In one of the silliest and by far worst scenes in slasher history, Angela stuffs a female camper into the inner sanctum of defecation and begins to prod at her until she is consumed by gallons and gallons of shit. Often times, I have stopped in these reviews by concepts I find to be stifling in their nature, but even I don’t know how to explain what the writer, director, and actors were thinking when they determined that this sequence, in total a good 5 minutes, needed to be kept in the film. Sometimes, I wish Angela would just use a machete to give a sense of tradition.

The other all-powering factor of this series is that few, if any of the main characters are redeeming. You really, really want Angela to win by film’s end. Sure, there’s a romance blooming between two characters who we could almost root for and our muscle-crotch counselor has been replaced by a mullet-sporting douche bag, but beyond those characters, the rest are faceless drones who occasionally flash some tits or ogle some tits. The first film had zero incidences of nudity. This one had at least twelve. It just goes to show that the ability of sequels to match their predecessors often fall on deaf ears when they fall backwards on old staples like exposed bosoms.

Member of the crew who should’ve been fired: Now would be a very good time to blame Stan Wakefield, Jerry Silva, and Michael A. Simpson, the executive producer and producers, respectively, for presenting this movie as a “fun” horror film. If you’ve watched any of the trailers for Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers, you’re well aware that all of the serious tone of the original has been removed in order to give it the sleek new look of the 1980’s, complete with nudity (again) and upbeat synth-pop. I wonder why the original creators of Sleepaway Camp refuse to acknowledge this in their canon.

Best Name in the Cast: I’ve never had a harder choice in this department, but when both Emilio Estevez’s sister and Bruce Springsteen’s sister star in one movie, you know you’ve got a real noodle-scratcher. In an effort to be objective, the nod goes to Pamela Springsteen, who did one other film of note after this one: Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland. Oh yes, its coming soon.

Quote of the Film:
“Listen, you don't have AIDS or anything, do you?” -Ally, the titanic twat after sex with an underdeveloped young man. Mother fucking genius.

Final Thoughts: While scoping out films in my local DVD store, I stumbled across a copy of the aforementioned Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland, and I was giddy to watch. Why? Because even though these films range from moderate to atrocious, they are all incredibly entertaining and hold enough esteem in the dignity department to keep me interested. That, and there’s only three of them. It’s not like I’m buying 11 films about a hockey-mask wearing monster. Just three about a trans-gendered hotness with a hard-on for killing.

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