For me, the name Sleepaway Camp defines “cult horror” from the 80s. The original trilogy was on a lower budget than their big-time counterparts like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday The 13th. Never the less, via a production crew that actually gave a damn, they were able to create some solid films. The original still remains one of the greats of the 80s, with an ending that some say is the greatest in horror history. It took a while for us to get a sequel, but it was worth it.
Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers picks up a few years later, when Angela is let out of the psych hospital, fresh with a new name, but still holding an undying love for good ol’ fashion, wholesome camping, she obtains a counselors position at Camp Rolling Hills. Despite the front of a bill of clean mental health, old habits die hard, as do others when they run afoul of Angela’s moral compass. It’s in these moments that you find a lot of the film’s high-points, as the kills run the gambit of rather mundane and boring, to extremely sadistic and outright disgusting. Pamela Springsteen [yeah, Bruce’s sister] plays Angela, and she’s one of the great portrayals in horror, as she’s seemingly as harmless as can be, yet wields chainsaws, power-drills, and a myriad of other things.
In the end, it’s the type of film most enjoyed with a friend or in a group with similar tastes, because there’s just so much to talk about and enjoy. Like I said, one of the greats of the 80s.
Cover: When this arrived, I was blown away by the fantastic art done by Nathan Thomas Milliner, who’s done other Blu-Ray releases, and has some awesome pieces online. However, I was a bit disappointed it didn’t have the classic, original cover, because it’s one of my all time favorites. Well, Scream! Factory truly cares about the fans, because the original cover is on the flip side, and you can turn it around to have it as the cover for the case. Awesome stuff.
Video: I’ll tell you that I never buy a blu-ray for a movie made before 1990, unless the special features are worth it, because the picture is never any better than that was done for DVD. However, this is a major exception. We’ve got 1080P High-Definition Widescreen (1.78.1), and it looks fantastic. I’ve seen this movie OnDemand, on Netflix, DVD, and VHS, and this is without a doubt the best it’s looked.
Audio: We’ve got DTS-HD Master Audio Mono here, and zero complaints. Everything sounds crisp, clear, and with zero noise.
Audio Commentary With Michael A. Simpson and Writer Fritz Gordon: Often times when it comes to low-budget horror films, the creators really don’t want much to do with it, and if they do participate in something like this, they don’t hold it in much regard. However, these two guys treat the whole project with respect. Much like the film, they don’t take things too seriously, but don’t go so over-the-top that it takes away from the quality. I always dig hearing stories about film production and the going-ons behind the scenes, something this commentary delivers on.
A Tale of Two Sequels – Part 1 – Back To Camp: This serves like a mini-documentary on the making of Unhappy Campers. The beginning is made to look like it was recorded off a worn-out VHS tape, and I admit, for a second, they got me. We hear from people such as the Director Michael A. Simpson, Actress Amy Fields, Make-Up Effects Creator Bill Johnson, and Cinematographer Bill Bills. There’s some great stories here that I don’t want to spoil, but I can say it’s a worthwhile inclusion for the set, and not just some filler piece made to puff up the Special Features.
Abandoned – The Filming Locations of Sleepaway Camp 2 and 3: Exactly what you think it is. I’m really only into filming locations for films I’m obsessed with, so this wasn’t insanely interesting to me. However, any die-hard fan of the series will definitely dig it.
Behind The Scenes Footage With Commentary by Michael A. Simpson: Just like the filming location portion, this is exactly what you think it is. It’s interesting, but not as much as the Tale of Two Sequels or the audio commentary.
Whatever Happened To Molly?: This is a short piece that was created to give an answer as to what happened to the girl at the end of the film, Molly, who survived, only to run into Angela one last time.
Over-All: I’ve often said that horror-fans are the least respected fans on the planet in terms of the big studios. They get a hit horror film, they milk it to death with sequel after sequel, they create as much merchandise related to it as they can in order to get us to spend more, while at the same time destroying our films with censorship, low-budgets and crews that don’t care. Later on they never offer up plush, deluxe versions of these films, films that people like us have supported for decades so they can make their “respectable movies.”
However, as of late companies like Scream Factory have come to our rescue and truly treated horror fans with the respect that we deserve. This release is like a love-letter to the fans of the Sleepaway Camp series, and something any serious horror fan needs.