31 days of Halloween: Movie Review. Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers

Julian Cannon is back again for another movie review. Since October is Halloween, I have a movie review right here, a comedy horror movie that came out in 1988. Here’s one of my favorites, Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers.

The first ‘Sleepaway Camp’ is a little bit notorious. It’s not a classic, but the twist ending had people talking and does set it apart. Rather than do the tasteful thing and just leave that story be, there had to be a sequel, set years later. This is known as ‘Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers.’ If you didn’t see the first movie and don’t know the twist in it, please stop reading.

Male campers are sitting around a fire telling ghost stories with one female camper who snuck away from her cabin. Head counselor Angela (Pamela Springsteen) scolds the girl and walks her back toward camp, though she is given attitude. Angela then beats the girl over the head with a log, killing her. The next day, the girl’s disappearance is explained by Angela saying that she “sent her home.” This is a recurring theme as the campers begin to disappear one by one when they break camp rules and misbehave.

Will anyone be around by the end of summer? Will Angela continue to impose her morality-driven wrath upon these dumb teens? Will someone show me how to set up a tent?

There is absolutely¬†little suspense to this film but a lot of the death scenes, made me laugh my ass off. You know right before the opening credits that Angela has returned from the first story, that she is in a position of power and that she is back to killing people. It’s hard to say how else this could have been handled, if you wanted to retain the character. Perhaps the best way to look at this is to think of it as a case of the audience knowing more than the characters.

This seems to be as much a comedy as a slasher horror movie, but I will let that slide since the humor is right up to today’s standard even though the movie came out in 1988. There are some goofy pranks and winks to the audience along with some strong references to other popular horror movies of the time. The tone is way sillier and easygoing than the original. Some real thrills and surprises would have been nice, but that would have been too ambitious.

Some of the lines are horrible and some of the acting is good in my point of view. Most of the campers represent different forms of bad behavior: drugs, sex, mean pranks, being disrespectful, etc. While killing them is completely uncalled for and crossing the line, there is a sick justification for Angela’s actions. Angela’s one-liners are a tad unwelcome, though in many people’s eyes but for me, I thought it was hilarious.

The violence is reasonably high though some of it is off-camera. We do get a lot of aftermath and a decent volume, especially by the end. There are some fairly original killings, as improbable as many of them seem to be.

Speaking of the ending, it just sort of happens. We get some big developments and confrontations, but a lot is sped through and after the climax, it all seems rushed. When the movie is barely 80 minutes, isn’t there a few extra minutes to show us one or two things and to have a less random ending? It’s not ironic or clever.

Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers has a lot of below-average acting, even for the era and the genre. There is nothing shocking here like there was (relatively) in the original. If you want a straightforward slasher-comedy set at a summer camp and if you don’t mind a plot that doesn’t make a lot, this is a bad movie that fans of the series could find some mild enjoyment from. I was never a fan of the series but something about the this movie made me decide to watch the prequel and sequel. For some reason, all 3 of the movies had a cult following and I can see why. From the cheesy acting to the humor and the questionable one liners, that was basic for most comedy horror flicks in the 1980’s. I went to summer camp every year until I was 13 back in Texas and I never had a horror story when it was the end of the 3 week visit. Then again, I do not want her as my camp counselor ever.¬† My final rating for this movie is a 6.5/10 since I enjoyed it.

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Julian Cannon

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