Sleepaway Camp Survival Kit

January 28, 2012 13 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

It seems like every camp has some legend about how some maniac kills off the campers and such, but not Camp Arawak. This camp has a clean record and the finest young campers make it their place for the summer, where they can make new friends, learn a little, and have loads of fun in the process. So when Angela (Felissa Rose) enrolls in the camp with her cousin, she expects to meet some cool people and have a memorable & fun summer experience. But she soon discovers that her fellow campers and even counselors aren’t that nice at all, in fact, they’re mean as heck. The others tease her, make fun of her, and sometimes even push her around, which just isn’t the way Angela wanted to spend her summer vacation. Her cousin soon steps in between her and them, with plans to stop this madness before it goes any further. Soon however, things would go too far and bodies start to turn up, which leaves the head master wondering what the deal is. Can this mysterious string of murders be resolved before all the campers perish and the camp’s good name is tarnished forever?

I know most of you already know this, but this disc contains a trimmed version of the film and while those moments cut are not substantial, it is worth mentioning. I have no knowledge of a future reissue of this film and to be honest, I can’t wait that long to add this movie to my collection. But until a new uncut edition is bowed, I will keep this one on hand. The film is a classic of ’80s horror flicks and has all the elements you could ask for from the genre. The storyline seems recycled and the acting is adequate at best, but this is one slasher movie that deserves a little more recognition. The basics of good looking teens, a ruthless maniac, and plenty of blood are all present, what more can you ask for? Well, how about some good scares, above average suspense, and a heck of a good ending? You don’t find all the elements together often in the horror genre, but Sleepaway Camp packs them all. I know you might think this is another slasher flick and it is, but it is a better slasher flick and that is what matters. This new edition is the same disc as before, complete with cuts, though of course, fans will still want to check out the collection.

Angela (Pamela Springsteen) has been released from a mental institution, but it doesn’t seem as though too much has changed. A sex change has turned her into a woman and she even has a new job, working as a camp counselor. Although she claims to be cured from her mental deviances, that doesn’t turn out to be the truth, as the residents of Camp Rolling Hills soon discover. Her former reign of terror will look like a walk in the park if she has her way, especially if the campers don’t want to follow her rules. And it doesn’t look like they want to, as the girls of Angela’s cabin hate her rules and thoughts on “good girl” etiquette. But no one at the camp hates Angela as much as Ally (Valerie Hartman), a cheerleader with limber limbs and a loose sexual outlook. As Angela begins to clash with the campers, will anyone be able to survive her psychotic rampage, or will she once again slaughter a mess of young teens?

As with most sequels, Sleepaway Camp II isn’t as effective as the original, but it takes a different approach, so the usual comparisons don’t always hold. I mean, this is still a slasher picture that takes place in a camp, but this one seems less serious than the first film, much less serious, if you ask me. The story is standard slasher fare, but has some nice twists, usually involving the odd world of Angela. If you’re into slasher movies, then Sleepaway Camp II has a lot to offer, with numerous memorable death scenes, as well as ample naked women, both staples of the 1980s style of slasher cinema. I was kind of surprised by the level of gore & violence the first time I saw this movie, but it is never too much, just enough to keep horror veterans pleased and the girls grossed out, a nice balance. But perhaps the most important element here is the humor, which adds entertainment value to no end, taking aim on other horror movies and the genre on the whole, though not to a silly Scary Movie kind of level. In the end, I had a lot of fun seeing this movie again and in such a lush collection, its a welcome addition.

A year or so after the blood soaked events at Camp Rolling Hills, the campground is purchased to use as a retreat for teenagers, but not in the typical sense. In truth, the summer’s camp session is viewed as more of a social experiment, to see how poor teens and wealthy teens mix together, as well as see how the class structure plays out in a different setting. Of course, that wild bitch Angela (Pamela Springsteen) is back and wants to be involved, but since her past is splattered with blood and death, it isn’t going to happen. So instead of putting in a traditional application, she tracks down one of the teens, murders her, and then assumes her identity. Once she is back in the woods, her old ways begin to come back her and the campers start to disappear, only to surface in pools of their own blood. The real social experiment turns up to be if a bunch of teens can survive an experienced, sadistic killer with one hell of a bad attitude.

This second sequel proves to be a bad movie in the usual respects, but it is often so bad, you can help but be entertained. Yes, the pace moves kind of slow at times, but I was never bored here and I doubt many slasher fans would be either. The story is paper thin and the killings sometimes seem totally impossible, but this lack of logic is part of why Sleepaway Camp III is so much fun, its just that bad at times. The characters are a goldmine of outlandish stereotypes, from class based ones to hilarious minority based roles, simply classic stuff here. Of course, if you’re easily offended, then these stereotypes will probably upset you, but since they add a lot of humor to the experience, I think they’re a welcome addition. As with the previous installment, Sleepaway Camp III has a good amount of violence, blood, and flesh, so if you’re like me and thrive on those elements, the film more than delivers. Yes, this is a bad movie, but it has some hilarious moments and cool death scenes, plus fans will want the entire collection regardless, so I think Sleepaway Camp III is a worthwhile, though flawed addition to the series.

Video: How does it look?

The films are all presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfers. The same transfer from the previous release is used on the first film, which looks good and should please fans, to be sure. I’ve never seen these three films look as good as they do here, as all offer large scale improvements over prior editions. I found all three prints to be in superb condition, with minimal flaws to discuss, especially in the case of the third installment. The third film looks the best out of the three, but all the movies have bright colors (especially the red hues), well balanced black levels, and natural, consistent flesh tones. As usual, Anchor Bay has drummed up superb visual presentations for movies that most studios would have rushed out, if not ignored, so I commend them for their work on these Sleepaway Camp discs.

Audio: How does it sound?

The original mono tracks are used and while you won’t be awestruck, no real problems surface either. The audio never seems to crumble to age related issues, as harshness & hiss are minimal and the track is actually pretty darn sharp in the end. I think as far as mono goes, this is a very good effort, but again, you won’t be blown away by you’ll hear. The sound effects come across well and you’ll have no trouble hearing the dialogue, which is all you can ask of this mix. The two sequels have a more impressive audio performance, but all three sound good, so no cause for concern. I kind of wish new surround mixes were struck, but since these tracks seem to handle the material well enough, I won’t complain too much.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The disc for the first houses the film’s theatrical trailer, as well as an audio commentary track with director Robert Hiltzik and star Felissa Rose, which is moderated by Jeff Hayes. This track isn’t a technical commentary by any means, more of a collection of memories, anecdotes, and stories. I think it turned out very well and fans of the film will want to give a spin, to be sure. The second film’s disc also has an audio commentary track (with director Michael A. Simpson & writer Fritz Gordon), which proves to be a little over the top, but enjoyable overall. Also on this disc is a selection of deleted scenes & outtakes, some still photos, and the film’s theatrical trailer. The third film’s disc brings back Simpson & Gordon for another session, as well as housing about twenty minutes of cut scenes, some outtakes, still photos, and the film’s theatrical trailer. In addition to the before mentioned supplements, those who choose to purchase this set at Best Buy will get a bonus fourth disc, which contains half an hour of production footage from Sleepaway Camp IV, which was abandon during production.

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