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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Michael A. Simpson
Cast:
Pamela Springsteen, Renee Estevez, Brian Patrick Clarke, Walter Gotell, Valerie Hartman
Writing Credits:
Fritz Gordon

Synopsis:
Angela, supposedly reformed and living under an assumed surname, is working at a summer camp. However, when the campers start misbehaving, she soon reverts to her old ways.

MPAA:
Rated R

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 80 min.
Price: $29.93
Release Date: 6/9/2015

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Michael A. Simpson and Writer Fritz Gordon
• “A Tale of Two Sequels – Part One” Featurette
• “Abandoned – The Filming Locations of Sleepaway Camp II & III Featurette
• Behind the Scenes Footage
• Home Video Trailer
• “What Happened to Molly?” Short Film
• Still Gallery
• DVD Copy


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EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers [Blu-Ray] (1987)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 19, 2015)

Back when I first reviewed 1983’s Sleepaway Camp, I indicated that I’d requested it mainly because I thought it starred Bruce Springsteen’s sister Pamela. I was wrong, as the Bossette had nothing to do with that movie. Instead, she starred in the flick’s first two sequels.

15 long years later, I finally landed a look at Pamela in action via 1987’s Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers. In the first film, sexually-confused teen Angela went bonkers and slaughtered a bunch of folks.

Set five years after the prior flick’s bloodshed, we find ourselves at Camp Rolling Hills, a spot about 60 miles from Camp Arawak, the prior movie’s location. A boy raised as a girl, Angela (Pamela Springsteen) subsequently got a sex change and was released from custody.

Now she boasts a job as a counselor at Camp Rolling Hills. It doesn’t look like Angela’s mental health improved over the prior five years, though, as she continues to punish those she views as wrongdoers. Expect lots of violence and bloodshed.

That synopsis might leave an impression that Campers includes an actual story. It doesn’t – it gives us a dramatic framework with no form of real narrative.

Couldn’t they have attempted some at least vague form of plot? Granted, no one expects great dramatic development from cheap horror movies, but the script’s laziness seems remarkable even for a genre often burdened by clichés.

Felix Gordon’s script acts as a tutorial in how not to write a good screenplay. It should be taught in filmmaking schools, as ir does nothing right. Rather than bring us into the premise slowly, it uses a cheesy opening scene in which we conveniently get all the exposition we need.

We never get a satisfying explanation for Angela’s post-Arawak “recovery”, and the changes in her character make no sense. In the first film, Angela was so shy that she was essentially mute, whereas now she comes across as chatty and assertive.

Did Angela’s violence in the first film act as a catharsis? Maybe, but I don’t think the filmmakers thought the situation through that well. I suspect they decided how they wanted Angela to be in Campers and didn’t care that she bore no resemblance to the original flick’s character.

None of the other roles make an impact. The script sets them up as simple stereotypes and never develops them beyond that. They all exist as potential slaughter-fodder and nothing more.

A good horror movie would manage at least some audience interest in its characters. We should feel some stake in these people and care who lives or dies. At the very least, we should want the “bad” characters to get it and hope others survive.

That never happens in Campers. None of the characters show any personality so we’re likely to forget who’s who most of the time. We follow the “story” from one contrived kill to another and that’s about it.

The first movie boasted consistently amateurish acting, and that continues here. I’d love to say that the younger Springsteen sibling delivers a good performance, but I guess Bruce gobbled up all the talent in the family. Pamela seems stiff and unconvincing as our vengeful lead. I have to believe she got the role due to the publicity her family connection brought, as nothing about her performance shows promise.

Pamela doesn’t offer the only “celebrity sibling” in Campers, as Renee Estevez plays “nice girl” Molly. Daughter of Martin Sheen and sister of Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen, she’s better than Pamela but not exactly an impressive actor. Her presence also leads to a bad “inside joke” in which the film names two campers “Charlie” and “Emilio”.

I guess that’s what passes for clever in this uninspired, pointless attempt at horror. I can’t say Sleepaway Camp 2 fares worse than its predecessor, as the original achieved a level of idiocy that’d be hard to match. The sequel lacks any sort of creativity and entertainment value, though; it may not be as awful as the first flick, but that’s not a compliment.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C/ Bonus B-

Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not a bad image, the transfer seemed pretty mediocre.

Sharpness varied a fair amount. Much of the film showed reasonable accuracy; I’d never call it razor-sharp, but it usually offered good delineation. Sporadic soft shots popped up, though. No issues with shimmering or jaggies occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. The movie looked rather grainy at times, and semi-frequent specks, marks and debris could be seen; these didn’t dominate but the movie could’ve used a good cleaning.

Colors seemed acceptable. Campers provided a natural palette that favored greens given the wooded setting. The hues lacked much pop but they appeared fine overall. Blacks were fairly dark and tight, and low-light shots showed fair clarity. This came across as a watchable image that needed some work.

As for the movie’s DTS-HD monaural soundtrack, it also seemed average for its age. Speech appeared a little reedy and thin, but the lines showed good intelligibility and lacked overt flaws. Music demonstrated limited range as well, but the score was clear enough and showed moderate pep. The bad hair metal song that played over the end credits sounded surprisingly rough, though.

Effects fell into the same range. Outside of the killings, the track didn’t ask for much, and the elements sounded decent; they could be somewhat flat but they showed no distortion and represented the material well enough. All of this left us with a “C” soundtrack.

As we shift to the set’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Michael A. Simpson and writer Fritz Gordon. Hosted by sleepawaycampfilms.com’s John Klyza, we get a running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, cast and performances, sets and locations, effects, editing, music and related topics.

While not devoid of useful content, this commentary tends to lack a lot of substance. During much of the track, the participants just joke about the film and fail to give us much good information. This develops into a less than enthralling discussion.

Entitled A Tale of Two Sequels – Part One, we get a 28-minute, six-second piece with comments from Simpson, filmmaker/series fan Jeff Hayes, editor John David Allen, director of photography Fred Mills, art director Frank Galline, special makeup effects creator Bill “Splat” Johnson, and actor Amy Fields. We learn about the roots/development of both Sleepaway Camp sequels, changes from the first film, story/character areas, sets and locations, cast and performances, various effects and different “kills”, and editing. Though really only half of a longer documentary, “Tale” sums up various film-related subjects pretty well and gives us a nice overview of a mix of topics. It’s a lot more interesting and informative than the commentary.

Next comes the 15-minute, 28-second Abandoned – The Filming Locations of Sleepaway Camp II & III. It provides notes from “Adam the Woo” and Tyler Patrick as they visit the spots on which the movies were shot. This becomes a pretty dull exploration, as there’s just not a lot to see in the now-overgrown/ratty locations.

After this we get 13 minutes, 21 seconds of Behind the Scenes Footage. We see raw footage from the set and hear commentary from Simpson about what we view as well as other reflections on the film. This becomes a decent glimpse at some filmmaking areas, especially for fans who want to see the creation of some effects.

A short film called What Happened to Molly? lasts 50 seconds. That’s a really short film, and it shows what the script intended to occur to the Molly character. As it was created in modern times, it’s not a true “deleted scene”, but fans should like it.

In addition to the film’s Home Video Trailer, we find a Still Gallery. It shows 81 shots that mix elements from the set, behind the scenes pics, and promotional materials. This turns into a good compilation.

A second disc provides a DVD Copy of Campers. It provides all the extras found on the Blu-ray.

As much as I loathed Sleepaway Camp, at least it attempted a semi-original story. Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers doesn’t even bother with a plot, as it simply delivers a dopey framework for a succession of uninspiring slayings. The Blu-ray offers erratic but acceptable picture and audio as well as a decent but erratic set of supplements. Maybe the third Sleepaway Camp movie will demonstrate some entertainment value, but Campers shows no signs of life.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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