Five years after the scandalous events of Robert Hiltzik’s SLEEPAWAY CAMP comes SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS, a 1988 horror that jacks up the comedy and has no lack of sexual obsession. This time, however, the focus is on punishment and castigation. It’s a lot of stupid fun.

SLEEPAWAY CAMP II is directed by Michael A. Simpson, with a screenplay by Fritz Gordon. Once again the setting is summer camp, but this time the place is less populated. The kids are older and kind of blend in with the counsellors, creating a weird appropriation of relationships and sexual entanglements. It’s sometimes hard to gather who’s who.

Luckily, Angela (Patricia Springsteen) is in charge. She’s a counsellor at Camp Rolling Hills and what went down at Camp Arawak is a topic of discussion. Angela, “cured” of her “issues” from the first picture, is not pleased with all the naughty counsellors and campers at the new joint and takes out her righteous indignation in all sorts of brutal ways.

The bodies pile up. This time, there’s no doubt about who’s doing the killing. It’s Angela all the way, as she chops and slashes and drills her way through a chorus of licentious, druggy, sacrilegious troublemakers. It comes to a head when she’s sacked and has to get creative to exact final retribution.

Everything’s on the table in UNHAPPY CAMPERS and that makes this movie really, really straightforward. There are no twists, no surprises. It’s a buffet of bodies for Angela and her imaginative massacre. There’s something fun about this sort of humility, something cool about a film that knows exactly what it wants and goes for the jugular.

Like a melting former New York mayor, sometimes things get really gross. Angela targets the wanton cheerleader Ally (Valerie Hartman) with one of the more ghastly murders. It does seem her most ferocious fury is reserved for the women, although a few dudes get their just desserts as well.

SLEEPAWAY CAMP II utilizes the mundane trope of killing as punishment for promiscuity and other esteemed pursuits of teens in the 80s. Setting Angela up as the symbol of that revenge is an interesting touch given the amount of sexual bitterness she must feel. It’s fascinating to have her disguise her tumult with so much singalong jubilance.

SLEEPAWAY CAMP II is no masterpiece, but it is a respectable slasher. It doesn’t have the consequence of its predecessor and lacks bite. Angela doesn’t turn into the contorted prodigy you imagine she could be, but there’s enough comedy and carnage to make 80 minutes pass by in a bloody enjoyable blur.

Published by Jordan Richardson

Writer. Troublemaker. Ne'er-do-well.


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