In 1980, Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th forever changed the horror movie landscape. While it may have taken elements from John Carpenter’s classic Halloween two years earlier, it moved the action to a summer camp and played with plot twists that are still copied to this day. Among the most famous of clones to appear in the years following the original release, Sleepaway Camp in 1983 was probably the one that came closest to Friday the 13th’s cult status. With a similar structure but a whole different kind of twist ending, it became a favorite among horror fans. It also produced two sequels in the late 80s that have just made their Blu-ray debut; Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers and Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland.
In Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers, freaky killer Angela from the original film, now played by Pamela Springsteen, sister of rock icon Bruce Springsteen, is back posing as a counsellor at a new camp not far from her old hunting grounds. At first Angela seems happy to be back at camp but when the campers and counsellors alike start to misbehave, Angela can’t help but resort to her deadly methods of punishment for those she finds offensive.
In Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland Angela is at it again, this time assuming the identity of a young camper at Camp New Horizons which has been built on the grounds of the original camp that Angela terrorized. Once again, anybody at the camp who does not adhere to Angela’s strict code of ethics is dispatched in increasingly gruesome fashion.
Let’s get one thing straight going into this. Neither one of these movies has an original word to it and neither one is particularly scary. They don’t even have good acting for the most part. But I will be damned if they are not a helluva lot of fun. Springsteen overacts with the best of them but her Angela is so insanely and obviously crazy it is hilarious to see that nobody in the movie sees it. The kills are inventive, gory and sometimes very funny, especially when Angela decides to mock popular horror movie tropes by utilizing the tools of the trade from other movies. A machete, a hockey mask, a bladed glove, Angela leaves no slasher stone unturned. These are movies meant to be devoured with a group of friends in the mood for something so ridiculous you are guaranteed a good time. And Shout Factory has even provided excellent transfers of both films and a great selection of special features that really only contribute to the appreciation of these films. They border on parody but you will still have a great time staying at Sleepaway Camp.