Sunday, June 21, 2015

SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS (1987) & SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND (1988)

 SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS (1987) 
2-Disc Collector's Edition DVD/BD

SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND (1988)
2-Disc Collector's Edition DVD/BD

Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HD MA with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Michael A. Simpson
Cast: Valerie Hartman, Tony Higgins, Brian Patrick Clarke, Pamela Springsteen, Renée Estevez I Tracy Griffith, Pamela Springsteen, Sandra Dorsey, Haynes Brooke, Mark Oliver, Michael J. Pollard

SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS (1987) 

Synopsis: Welcome to Camp Rolling Hills! Meet your camp counselor, Angela Baker! She's the kind of counselor who enjoys camp songs, nature walks, board games and… murder. Five years after the horrific slaughter at Camp Arawak, Angela (Pamela Springsteen, Fast Times at Ridgemont High) has created a new position for herself as a counselor at Camp Rolling Hills. Angela is about to teach "bad campers" a brutal lesson in survival when they are sliced, stabbed, drilled… and much worse. Renée Estevez (Heathers, Intruder) and Walter Gotell (The Spy Who Loved Me) co-star in this outrageous sequel to the original cult classic.

Beware campers, transgendered killer Angela is back with a vengeance in the sequel which strikes a much different tone from the original, going for more campy (pun intended) humor with more than an eyeful of female nudity and absurd murders. This time out Angela is played by Angela Springsteen (sister of Bruce) and she brings a brattier quality to the character, the tone is completely different, but I like what she beings to the role, a sort of spunky moral avenger with a twisted sense of right and wrong that drives her insatiable appetite for murder. 

It is explained that through whatever means Angela has served her time following the massacre at Camp Arawak at an institution for the criminally insane, and has in fact been granted a sex change operation during her incarceration. A lot of this is told through a spooky campfire tale at the start of the film. What the counselors and kids at Camp Rolling Hills don't realize is that Angela is now a counselor at Camp Rolling Hills and it won't be long before she resumes her killing spree, killing immoral teenagers one at a time. 

The sequel sets itself apart from the original with copious amount of camp humor and a lot of nudity, there's a lot of titties on display throughout, particularly from the character of Ally (played by hottie Valerie Hartman) who just cannot seem to keep her shirt on for more than fifteen minutes in this movie, she's a bitchy teenage fornicator with a nice pair of tits, obviously things will not end well for her. 

The story is almost non-existent, we basically have a group of people who offend Angela through their immoral  action sand then we have Angela stalking and killing them in a series of murderous vignettes, that's about the extent of the storytelling. The set-ups are fun but the kills mostly happen off screen and are not gory, but at least they're fun. There's a lot of bashing people in the head with tree limbs, a bloody drilling, acid to the face, roasted over a fire, a decapitation, multiple stabbings, and homages to both Freddy Kruger and Jason Vorhees -- complete with a razor-clawed glove and a chainsaw,. The most memorable death being when Angela forces Ally into an outhouse and down into the shit-hole, which for some reason is infested with blood sucking leeches. Some great set-ups but the movie is hurt by the lack of gore, choosing instead to focus on the humor and corny one-liners from Angela, who went from near mute in the first film to slinging Kruger-esque verbal puns. 

Something I always wished the sequels would have exploited more was the psychological underpinnings of Angela's transgendered murder-spree, which is touched upon briefly but largely ignored. There's plenty of deep psychological material here to explore if the screenwriters had chosen to do so but instead it largely bypasses the deeper stuff in favor of the camp comedy and surface level slasher tendencies. There's a pretty great nightmare sequence about halfway through the film, ia dark moody moment that's at odds with the rest of the movie, watching the special features we learn it was created as a convenient way to extend the run time of the film, I would have enjoyed more of that type of tension, but it's just not that sort of slasher. 

As each of the campers and counselors go missing Angela covers their disappearance by explaining she sent them home for bad behavior, which becomes harder to swallow as over a dozen people go missing until the camp is about empty, save for goody-goody Molly, played by Renée Estevez, who I will always identify as Betty Finn from Heathers (1989) .A very silly slasher but I do love the fun tone and playfulness of this camper-slasher, despite the lack of gruesome gore, it's very entertaining. I enjoyed the mid-eighties rock soundtrack which is stuffed with choice cheese from The Dead Milkmen, Anvil and Obsession among others, it's difficult not love an 80's camp slasher loaded with sweet teen boobies and a retro-metal soundtrack.

Scream Factory have given us a bunch of cool extras to pour through beginning with an Audio Commentary With Director Michael A. Simpson And Writer Fritz Gordon. There's a new Red Shirt produced making-of featurette with new interviews from Director Michael A. Simpson, Cinematographer Bill Mills, Editor John David Allen. Unfortunately we don't have any input from star Pamela Springsteen or hottie Valerie Hartman, but sometimes actors move on and jut don't wanna look back, what we do get are some insightful interviews from the cast and crew that fans of the movie will enjoy immensely. 

There's a fun set-visit titled Abandoned – The Filming Locations Of SLEEPAWAY CAMP II and III – A Tour Of The Shooting Locales from the AdamtheWoo.com crew who visit the vastly overgrown filming locations, this was a fun one, its crazy how near unrecognizable and overgrown the former YMCA youth camp looks these days in the wilds of Georgia.

Additionally we have some behind-the-scene video with commentary by director Michael A. Simpson, a home video promotional trailer straight from a VHS source, and a gallery of 43 behind-the-scene and promotional imagery, and a short film which answers just what happened to the character of Molly, which is left open at the end of the film, but is answered here based on the original script.

Special Features: 
- Audio Commentary With Director Michael A. Simpson And Writer Fritz Gordon
- A Tale Of Two Sequels – Part One Featuring New Interviews With Director Michael A. Simpson, Cinematographer Bill Mills, Editor John David Allen And More 28 Mins) 
- Abandoned – The Filming Locations Of SLEEPAWAY CAMP II & III – A Tour Of The Shooting Locales (15 Mins) 
- Behind-The-Scenes Footage With Commentary By Michael A. Simpson (13 Mins) 
- Home Video Promotional Trailer (2 Mins) 
- Short Film: Whatever Happened to Molly? (2 Mins) 
- Still Gallery (49 Images) 

SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND (1988) 

Synopsis: Welcome to Camp New Horizons, where an autumn retreat brings together a group of obnoxious rich kids and surly city thugs for an "experiment in sharing." Under new inept management, this is the ideal setting for notorious psychopath Angela Baker (Pamela Springsteen, Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers) to join the camp and do what she does best – eliminating "immoral" teenagers with everything from a knife to a lawnmower. Michael J. Pollard (House of 1000 Corpses, Bonnie & Clyde), Tracy Griffith (Fear City, The First Power) and Jill Terashita (Night of the Demons) co-star in this third installment of the cult series.

The third film in the series continues the campy humor-infused tone of the first sequel beginning with a strange opening, a young woman wakes up in the morning,  bare-breasted naturally, the words "milk" and "shake" are tattooed on her tiny titties, Walking down the street to where she is to catch the bus to camp she is run over by a garbage truck driven by  Angela (Pamela Springsteen) who then proceeds to steal her name and take her place at Camp New Horizons, which is the same location where she massacred campers and counselors just the year before, only this time she one of the campers, not a counselor. 

Camp New Horizon is run by the pervy Herman (Michael J. Pollard) and his obnoxious wife Lily (Sandra Dorsey) who have organized a little "social experiment in sharing" by mixing together underprivileged inner-city kids with more affluent kids, which sounds misguided and a recipe for certain disaster, now add murderous moral-crusader Angela into the mix and you have a corny camper-slasher loaded with carnage, titties and a surprising amount of racism, most of which I had forgotten about since my last viewing.

Officer Barney Whitmore (Cliff Brand) is the third counselor at the camp, and he just happens to be the father of one of Angela's victims from the year before. again, which puts Angela on edge. Again, the story is threadbare only serves to provide a backdrop to the murderous vignettes. Compared the the first sequel the carnage is amped up with more creative and gruesome deaths, which was a plus for me. Again, we have a few too many blows to the skull with tree limbs but Angela spices things up with a lawnmower, drops someone on their head from atop a flagpole and blows someones face off with a firecracker, it's good stuff and we have more blood or better orchestrated slasher scenes which the previous sequel was largely lacking. The Sleepaway Camp sequels are fun body count films, I enjoy the humor, but they do lose pints for a lack of suspense and tension, we know who the murderer is from the very beginning and they lack the impact of the originals shocker-ending, but as a goofy series of camp-slasher films they are hugely entertaining.

Scream factory again come through with some excellent supplemental material to enjoy after your viewing, again we have Audio Commentary With Director Michael A. Simpson And Writer Fritz Gordon, and the second part of the A Tale Of Two Sequels with new Interviews With Director Michael A. Simpson, Cinematographer Bill Mills, Actors Mark Oliver And Kim Wall, another wealth of information about the making of the film, again we have no input from star Pamela Springfield, but what we have is damn good stuff with some fun remembrances of the offbeat actor Michael J. Pollard and the making of the film.

There's another Behind-The-Scenes Footage With Commentary By Michael A. Simpson, Home Video Promotional Trailer, the Tony Lives Short Film,  and a Still Gallery. The best extra for my money is the longer Workprint Cut of the film, which has been sourced from a VHS, the longer cut is authentic to the fullframe VHS source, it look pretty scuzzy but you can now watch it with the gorier bits trimmed by request of the MPAA, and there's some good bloody bits that were cut from this one. A fantastic extra, this is the sort of extra you wish they could dig up for the Friday the 13th films. If you choose not to sit through the entire work print you can watch the extended gore sequences which have been collected in the Deleted Scenes Featuring Additional Gore Footage There's also a slipcover for the release with new artwork by Nathan Thomas Milner who also did the new artwork for Scream Factory's Sleepaway Camp and Sleepaway Camp II releases on Blu-ray. It'd be great if Scream could offer the trio of titles as a box set with a heavy-duty slipcase, sort of like the Nightbreed Director's Cut Limited Edition Blu-ray, offering it as a box set or as a separate slipcase you could purchase, which will never happen, but wouldn't that look great on your shelf? 

Special Features- Audio Commentary With Director Michael A. Simpson And Writer Fritz Gordon
- A Tale Of Two Sequels - Part Two Featuring New Interviews With Director Michael A. Simpson, Cinematographer Bill Mills, Actors Mark Oliver And Kim Wall And More (26 Mins) 
- Behind-The-Scenes Footage With Commentary By Michael A. Simpson (8 Mins) 
- Workprint Of The Longer Cut (From VHS) (85 Mins) 
- Deleted Scenes Featuring Additional Gore Footage (Taken From The Workprint) (19 Mins) 
- Home Video Promotional Trailer (3 Mins)
- Tony Lives Short Film (1 Min) 
- Still Gallery (49 Images) 

The Sleepaway Camp sequels stray from the tone and aesthetic of the original movie, eschewing the transgendered shock ending and the fallout thereof for a more straight-up comedy infused camp slasher that's more along the lines of Student Bodies (1981) or a Troma movie than anything resembling Friday the 13th. But they are fun and the filmmakers have their tongues planted in-cheek and Pamela Springsteen's performance as the crazed moral-avenger is fun stuff through and through, all the sleepaway Camp movies come recomended. 4/5 

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