Scream Factory takes us back into the woods with the Blu-ray release of “Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers.” The follow-up to Robert Hiltzik’s shocking original had no real chance of one-upping the surprise ending of that cult classic and really didn’t even try. Instead, Director Michael A. Simpson and Writer Fritz Gordon decided to take the sequel into an entirely new direction by creating a movie that both celebrated its slasher sensibilities and satirized them as well.
In “Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers,” psychotic transsexual Angela Baker (Pamela Springsteen) escapes from a mental hospital and surfaces at a summer camp as a counselor who lectures her teenage charges on proper moral behavior. Those teens who break her strict rules -- from the camp chatterbox or a sex-obsessed girl to the boys who are peeping Toms -- are murdered by the impostor in various gruesome ways. As more campers go missing, intrepid counselor Molly (Renee Estevez) begins to piece together the truth.
“Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers” is rated R for violence and gore, sex and nudity, profanity, alcohol, drugs, smoking, and frightening and intense scenes. The killings in the film are more campy and comedic than they are gory. The sex and nudity is what we’ve all come to expect from the slasher movies of the 1980s. They are a little more ridiculous at times because everything in “Sleepaway Camp II” is amped up for the sake of parody.
Scream Factory delivers again when it comes to bonus material for “Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers.” Audio commentary is provided by Director Michael A. Simpson and Writer Fritz Gordon. A 28-minute featurette entitled “A Tale of Two Sequels - Part One” explores the making of both this film and its follow-up through new interviews with the cast and crew. “Abandoned - The Locations of ‘Sleepaway Camp II’ and ‘III’” takes viewers on a current tour of where the movie was made. The short film “Whatever Happened to Molly?” answers that very question. Special features also include behind-the-scenes footage, a home video trailer, and still gallery.
The low-budget original VHS packaging for “Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers” and franchise creator Robert Hiltzik’s insistence that it wasn’t his vision for an official sequel always steered me away from viewing this horror / comedy gem. I made a bad decision and thanks to Scream Factory have rectified the situation. What we have here is a smart and enjoyable lampoon of the slasher genre that still pays tribute to and respects its predecessors. Simply put, “Sleepaway Camp II” effectively beat “Scream” to the punch a good eight years before Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson’s blockbuster hit movie screens.
“Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers” is available now on Blu-ray.