DirectorMichael A. Simpson
Release Date(s)1987 (June 9, 2015)
Studio(s)MGM (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: B+
Although the original Sleepaway Camp was mostly talked about due to its twist ending, Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers is fondly remembered due to its reputation as a somewhat unintentional horror comedy. Released four years after the original, the series went in a completely different direction than even makers of the original film would have expected.
This time around, Angela, the young girl who was revealed as the killer in the first film, is all grown up and playing the role of camp counselor at Camp Rolling Hills. She has the appearance of an enthusiastic goody two shoes, but once she runs into some unruly teenagers, she takes matters into her own hands and bumps them off one by one.
There’s no nice way of saying it but Sleepaway Camp II and the sequel that followed aren’t very good movies. Instead, they’re very silly movies with a high camp factor (pun intended). The death scenes are never all that gruesome and feel more tongue-in-cheek than horrifying. Not to mention that the flippant attitudes of the teenagers cause the movie to just go all over the map. Pamela Springsteen, who plays Angela in this and the following film, is completely believable as a girl gone mad, but at the same time, you can also spot the cheese inside that ham sandwich. This is also probably one of the more T&A heavy slasher movies to come out of the 1980’s, which is saying a lot. One actress in particular seemed willing to take her clothes off at every opportunity presented to her, which I can’t say is a problem.
Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers is definitely not a perfect movie, by any stretch of the imagination. However, it has become a cult classic in a much different manner than its predecessor. It’s full of all things cheesy, but is it ever entertaining. It’s not the usual slasher fare, but thankfully, it’s not required to be.
Scream Factory’s release of Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers features a very pleasing transfer. Unfortunately, all of the original materials of the film have been lost, and as such, a brand-spanking new 2K scan of the film (as was done with the first film) could not be performed. Instead, an HD master has been ported over, so the presentation isn’t quite as painstaking. Still, the results are quite commendable. Grain is handled very well and fine detail is quite good. Skin tones appear quite natural, and the film’s color palette is a lot richer than I remembered. Black levels and shadow details are also very good without any apparent crush. Contrast levels are also satisfactory. There is a minimal amount of dirt leftover from the original HD transfer, but there aren’t any signs of digital tweaking. For the film’s soundtrack, there’s a single English 2.0 DTS-HD track. Sourced from the original mono, there isn’t much in the way of dynamics, but it’s a soundtrack that suits the film just fine. Dialogue is always clean and clear, and both sound effects, score, and music tracks are mixed in well together. It’s not exactly a flat soundtrack, but there isn’t very much deep bass to it either. All in all, it’s probably the best the film has ever looked and sounded on home video. Subtitles are available in English for those who might need them.
Where this set (and its counterpart) truly shine is in the extras. There’s an audio commentary with director Michael A. Simpson and writer Fritz Gordon, moderated by John Klyza; the terrific new A Tale of Two Sequels: Part One documentary; the Abandoned: The Filming Locations of Sleepaway Camp II & III video segment; a set of behind-the-scenes footage; the film’s home video trailer; the new Whatever Happened to Molly? short film, which shows the lead heroine’s fate as scripted; a still gallery; and a DVD copy of the film. And although it’s not an extra technically, the trailer for Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland has been put back onto the end of the film after it was removed for the original Anchor Bay DVD release. And as you can see, nearly all of the extras have been carried over from that release. The only thing missing is an Easter egg, which was the deleted song “More Love” by the band Ravenstone.
Overall, Scream Factory’s release of Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers on Blu-ray is half of one of the most enjoyable high definition horror experiences of the year. With a nice transfer and a bevy of fantastic extras, this release (as well as Sleepaway Camp III) is sure to please even die-hard fans of the series.
- Tim Salmons