Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988)
Written By: Angela DiLella
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Michael A. Simpson
Producers: Jerry Silva, Michael A. Simpson
Writers: Fritz Gordon, Robert Hiltzik
Date Released: August 26, 1988
Pamela Springsteen as Angela
Renee Estevez as Molly
Tony Higgins as Sean
Rating = 3/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Five years after the camper massacre at Camp Arawak, strange murders begin taking place at Camp Rolling Hills, another summer camp in the area.
As with any good eighties’ slasher, there’s a good bit of stabbing, slashing, cutting, burning, and choking.
The Grave Review
Who wouldn’t run a summer camp almost on top of the grounds of one where horrid murders had taken place years before? Sleepaway Camp II follows an ill-fated camp that just can’t seem to hold onto its campers. If you’ve seen the first Sleepaway Camp, the events won’t surprise you (nor will the killer), but second installment is entertaining and may be satisfying to slasher fans, fans of dark comedy, and fans of teen films. Similar to the first Sleepaway Camp, the sequel does a great job at recreating that feeling of being at a real sleepover camp, so much so that the fear factor of the possible that murders is amplified, even if you went to a completely safe and monitored camp.
For the most part, the cast performed commendably and are convincing as tweens and teenagers at summer camp—which makes sense, as many of them really were tweens and teenagers! A few of the performances unfortunately did not quite make the cut, but like other slasher films, the poor performers disappear quickly. The member of the cast that really stood out to me was Pamela Springsteen, who played Angela. Just as the camp and campers feel pretty accurate to a summer camp experience, Springsteen does a convincing job portraying a peppy yet uptight (and weird) camp counselor that former camp goers would probably recognize. As the movie plays out, Springsteen only gets creepier, taking on the persona of a bubbly friend who may be loosening up with her campers. As she joins in their merriment and begins bonding with them, the viewers can clearly see how cold and calculating—and downright creepy—she really is.
Though I tend to get bored with slasher franchises pretty quickly, I found myself engaged with this sequel from the start. As I’ve already mentioned, there isn’t really a huge mystery as to who the killer is (unless you have not seen the first Sleepaway Camp or don not remember it well), but this does not diminish the entertainment value of Sleepaway Camp II. Though the gritty feel from the first film is buffed out and polished just a bit, this sequel still retains enough to make you feel like you ought to take a shower after viewing (and make you hope that the cast and crew did, too).
The deaths are creative enough, with some purposeful and fun nods to other slasher series like Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the Thirteenth, as well as some creative kills that still fit with the story and setting. One notable scene involves a claustrophobic outhouse swirly with the most (and the biggest) leeches I have seen since my own sleepaway camp days.
The movie drags a bit during its climax, but there is a final twist that ends things with a classic slasher bang. Sleepaway Camp II a sequel worth visiting, and it is even one that would probably work on its own, too.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers three graves out of five graves.
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