Monday, April 5, 2010

Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988)


Friends, it had been many months since I, the Duke of DVD, had last set about on an adventure to procure some forgotten fragment of cinematic lore. Growing corpulent and pasty in my indolence, I decided that once again I should set forth, to risk life and limb, in order to bring the gospel back down from the mount. A missive from an old friend spurred me on, having mentioned that a particularly nasty morsel of film had recently been located, using a rather ribald form of scapulimancy involving the shoulder blades of a heretic priest.

Needless to say, with this kind of confirmation, how could I not go looking? Very quickly my retinue was ready, the necessary spells and cantrips protecting my carriage as it rumbled forth. I won’t bore you with the details of the journey itself, except to say that if you ever find yourself in the lower foothills of northern Romania, you could do a lot worse than to stay at Wilhelm’s Runny Gutter Bed & Breakfast.

Soon, I found myself in a dark crypt underneath the remains of a druid cairn field. The very air was electric with energies, and reeked of mouse pee. Without warning, the cave collapsed behind us, leaving myself and three faithful mute servants. Again, I skip the details, but suffice it to say they did not mind my using their femurs to fashion a crude shovel to dig myself out later. Luckily, the prize I sought was not too much further in, nestled in a small chest bound with human flesh and etched with powerful runes.

As you probably already expect, inside this protected box (which one of my servants graciously opened for me, his body twisting and finally disappearing into that region beyond time after he laid hands upon it) was an object of immense value, a film that I had long sought after but had not yet watched…

Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers!

I’m just going to get this out of the way: Sleepaway Camp 2 is not a good movie. In fact, it fairly sucks. However! Stay your hand, sir or madam. I see your pocked appendage, sliding over towards the mouse, your sausage-like fingers itching to surf away from MMMMMovies, your mind already turning towards what new donkey porn that might have been released since you last checked. Do not go gentle into that good night!

"And when he looked in the mirror, he saw... The Mullet!"

Yes, Sleepaway Camp 2 is hideous, but that doesn’t mean we can’t derive some form of enjoyment from it. Perhaps we shall count the number of mullets, or the number of times 80s hair band music plays. Perhaps we’ll see how many teats are displayed in a 5-minute span, and then see if the movie can break that record. The possibilities are endless!

It’s hard to talk about SC2 without ruining the surprise ending to the first Sleepaway Camp, so before I tread into spoiler territory, I suggest you stop reading now if you haven’t seen the first one and go watch it, then come back! It’s a good movie, so it’s worth your time.

*spoilers ahoy!*

So, as we know from the first movie, Angela was really a dude, the scary image of “her” standing naked, teeth bared in a snarl, was fairly shocking, and made a movie full of guys wearing short-shorts worthwhile. In the sequel, we still have guys wearing short-shorts, but gone is the creatively and aplomb which made the first film so righteous.

"Then its on to the kayaking and... wait, who farted?"

Instead, we are left with a hollow shell of a movie that exists only to make a buck off the good name of the first one. Sleepaway Camp 2 also tries its hardest to steal some viewership off the backs of A Nightmare on Elm Street and the Friday the 13th series. I mean, just look at the front cover/movie poster! The producers didn’t stop there, though. Not content to try and piggyback on better movies, they also somehow got Pamela Springsteen (yes, that Springsteen, she’s his sister) to star in their film. Did they stop there?

"Why yes, I did fuck the Duke last night!"

Fuck no, madam! They also got Renee Estevez, sister to Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen! With their cast now set, failure was no longer an option. The movie opens with, of course, a campfire. A mulletted jock-type with an affectation for short-shorts and with the awesome moniker of “TC” (not to be confused with the godlike TP of 1982's MADMAN fame!) is recounting a story about something or other. The kids sitting around the fire are not in the least impressed.

This movie presented in glorious 10/80.

One of them, the only girl present, then tells the story of Camp Arawak, the camp from the first movie. We learn that Angela, transsexual lunatic, has since gotten a sex change, courtesy of the insane asylum where she was being kept. (That's right: not content with the feeding and care of insane people, the state has determined that expensive and controversial sex changes are also needed to help their patients. That's a health care plan the Duke fully endorses!)

Naturally, no one has seen or heard from Angela since. And with that, Angela the Counselor (hmmm, could it be? Naw, surely not!) comes walking up, reprimanding the lone girl in the bunch for running off and hanging with the boys. She escorts the girl back to the cabin, or starts to anyway, before grabbing a nearby log and beating the girl’s brains out! Obviously, the movie has to end here, because how could she cover up such a horrid crime!

Due to budget cutbacks, the weekly BBQ sees some changes.

But wait! Angela has the perfect alibi. An elderly gent that everyone calls Uncle John (the reason is never clear) is the grant overseer of the camp. He believes Angela instantly when she tells him that the girl she offed has had to be sent home, due to “improper goings on” with the men-folk. Uncle John takes this at face value, shaking his head in a “Oh, that silly Angela, what we she do next!” fashion, a motion we see him go through many times over.

"Who's the Boss now, bitch?"

In fact, here is the main problem with the movie. What we got in the first 15 minutes is endlessly repeated: Angela kills someone for the tiniest of infractions (ok, exposing your tits to the boys isn’t tiny per se), kills them in a gruesome fashion, and then explains away their disappearance by saying that she had to send the offending kid home. No one ever witnesses these leave-takings, but no one really ever questions her response. The head count keeps going down and down, but no one really cares to notice.

Let’s run things down, shall we. First off, we have the girls, every one of them sluts except for the chaste Molly, who is in love with the main hunky dude of the film. The lesser hunky dude gets Ally, the most free with her tits girl I’ve seen in the slasher genre. She has long conversations topless, and is pretty much the center of any sex scene in the movie. Valerie Hartman makes shows your tits off look easy, be it through the use of wet t-shirts, or receiving some of the most sloppy cunnilingus this side of the Vicar’s Birthday Fete.

"Man, this rave kicks ass. Music's a little loud though..."

I mentioned the dudes of the movie already, and they really just exist to be killed or pine after the women-folk. TC, though, steals any scene he’s in, with his powerful mullet and ability to radiate manliness and dorkery simultaneously. Uncle John exists merely to shake his head ruefully at Angela and mutter vaguely coherent things at the morning breakfast.

The murders actually work fairly well, and are generally gruesome, but not overly gory. Blood sprays, but not in mass quantities. Angela employs a wide range of deadly implements, including chainsaws, electric drills, handy tree limbs, burning people alive with gasoline, and numerous stabby things. In one notable scene, two teen punks attempt to scare Angela by dressing up like Freddy from A Nightmare on Elm Street and the other dressing up as Jason. Their plot goes slightly awry when Angela steals the Freddy glove and uses it to cut the throat of one of the kids! The other she offs with a chainsaw. She kills and kills until finally the mousey Molly gets her boyfriend and convinces him that something’s rotten in the Camp of Rolling Hills.

Stumped.

The two of them eventually stumble upon the remains of Camp Arawak, and discover, in one of the dilapidated cabins, Angela’s house of horrors. Every victim she has reaped throughout the film is situated here, bleeding and rotting. She has a few candles burning as well, I can only assume in some vain attempt to mask the unholy smell. No sooner have the teens discovered this mess than Angela barges in, catching them in the act, and beats the boyfriend with a stick.

You've got to give a little head to get a little head.

After tying them up, she proceeds to decapitate the boyfriend, and then somehow bungles up and lets the girl Molly escape. Running for her life, with Angela in hot pursuit, Molly makes it a little ways through the woods before Angela finally catches her and shoves her off a cliff, leaving her for dead. Back at the camp, darkness has fallen, and Angela proceeds to tie up loose ends: Meaning, killing everyone left at the camp!

"Now you tell me how 'The Shocker' feels!"

She hangs TC, cuts Uncle John’s throat (and his hand off, for some reason) and stabs the other female counselor whose name escapes me. The rest of the kids aren’t shown. Molly wakes up, not dead after all, and flees through the dark, finally finding a road. A car comes up and, of course, it’s Angela driving. The film ends on a freeze-frame of Molly’s terrified face.

In the end, this movie is a pale shadow of the first Sleepaway Camp, which itself wasn’t the greatest slasher ever, not by a long shot. Sleepaway Camp 2 just seemed rudderless, adrift on a sea of its own greed. Sure, it has some gratuitous nudity, and some decent sex scenes, but that’s about it. Special mention goes to the rockin’ hair band music (including fucking ANVIL!) as well as obvious music product placement in the form of a Poison poster on one of the girl’s dorm walls, and a Flotsam & Jetsam album placed in-between two corpses in Angela’s hidey-hole.
In the end, friends, the journey didn’t live up to the hype. If it had been obvious to me that the creators of this film had really tried, really fought to make their vision realized, I could have forgiven a lot.

Unfortunately, Sleepaway Camp 2 isn’t a glorious failure… it is simply a failure.

1 Thumb Up.

11 comments:

The Vicar of VHS said...

Ah, my friend, I must respectfully disagree with you a bit on this one. I actually liked it okay, though of course it can't possibly live up to the awesomeness of the first (which you should retroactively review, imo!). Still, I remember enjoying the mullets, the short-shorts, the snottyness of the main "villain" girl--who has a pretty awesome woodland romp in this one, IIRC. (Bonus trivia--her partner in this scene was only 17, thus underage, and as a result a stunt pony was brought in for her to simulate riding).

Part 3, though--now THAT was a waste of time!

TimTE01 said...

I see someone else has Chiller too, huh? They just played Part 2 and 3 last week, but I only caught part of it.

The parts I saw were not that good, but I'm still looking forward to doing future reviews on them.

Can they possibly be worse than 'Prom Night 3?'

Richard of DM said...

I love Sleepaway Camp II. It is one of those cheap pieces of shit that somehow manages to be utterly charming. I have a (sort of) crush on Angela, the villainess (who used to have a penis). (I'm conflicted.)

Inspector Winship said...

Duke I have to disagree with your piddly 1 thumb rating. This is at least a 2.5. It has it all - campy acting, impossibly gorey murders done on the fly, T&A and an offspring of Martin Sheen. My God man, what else do you want?

On the other hand, the next two films were Utter. Crap.

Cheers

The Duke of DVD said...

Fellows, gentlemen, simmer down now! Please, I beseech you... Winship, put down that musket!

Now, everyone back to their seats... yes, quiet please...

Ok, now. Let me explain. SC2 just came off as a cheap insult to the first movie to me, which I love dearly. Sure, it was campy, which we all love, but it just felt hollow to me.

Ok, I admit, Ms. Springsteen did wacky wierdo killer fairly well, cheerfully smiling as she employed a drill to someone's skull. I also admit open love for TC and his mullet.

However, I just felt, in the end, that the director/producers tried too much on the cheap knockoff front and not enough on the "Hey, let's do more than string a bunch of kills together!" front.

Perhaps it was because I ran out of bourbon, or perhaps I'm simply on my period, but the movie just falls flat, for me.

Now, I'm going to review part III and IV, and we'll see what true horror is...

The Vicar of VHS said...

If you're going to go on through 3 and 4, you should bolster yourself (and all of us!) with a retroactive review on part 1!

The Duke of DVD said...

You are correct, Vicar. I didn't start there because I figured I'd bring word of the lesser-known sequels, but it will give more perspective.

Ok, I'll attempt to contact dark forces and arrange a delivery. Wish me luck!

JamiSings said...

I didn't even know Bruce or Charlie had sisters! I thought Bruce was an only child and there was nothing but boys in the other family! Leave it to the Duke to teach me something new!

The Duke of DVD said...

@JamiSings - Oh, I'm a very good teacher! You should attend my next seminar entitled "Red Asses: Get Spanked And Lose Weight". My last one is available on tape, "Cannib-yes! Smoke Yourself To Happiness."

JamiSings said...

I can get spanked AND lose weight? SIGN ME UP! Only thing better is if you threw in some tickle with that slap! LOL

J.T. said...

Just wanted to point out one thing, TC isn't hanged. TC gets the battery acid thrown on his face up in the cabin.

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