Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers (1988)

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Angela is back but now she’s in the form of Bruce Springsteen’s little sister in this sequel that goes on a darker comedy route than its original form of twists and turns.

At Camp Rolling Hills, it’s time for another great summer. One of the new counselors onboard this year is Angela Johnson, who finds a young camper named Phoebe talking with the male campers about some scary camp stories. When Phoebe tells the story of Camp Arawak and the events that happened six years ago, Angela decides to send Phoebe home for breaking the rules. However, Angela shows her true colors as it is revealed that Angela Johnson is actually Angela Baker, the camper responsible for the murders at Camp Arawak.

Camper Sean Whitmore has learned through his policeman father that after the events at Camp Arawak, Angela had been sent to a psycho ward and during her stay had a full sex-change operation. She has done her time and now, taking on the name of Angela Johnson, begins going on a moral-cleansing killing spree. She begins killing campers who have no morals and dispatches them in different ways. The only camper she trusts is Molly, a young woman who eventually learns of Angela’s spree after Angela is fired for “sending too many campers home”. Will Molly be next in line for Angela or will she find a way to stop the “Angel of Death”?

1983’s Sleepaway Camp may have been known to have a Friday the 13th vibe but it’s more known for its many twists and turns as well as its very shocking ending. Six years later, creator Robert Hiltzik licensed the name to small town outlet Double Helix Films. Enter Michael A. Simpson, who did audition original star Felissa Rose to return to the role of Angela. However, Rose admitted in an interview she didn’t really gel with the dark comedy. Instead, Simpson relied on good friend and at the time constant collaborator Pamela Springsteen to take over the role of killer counselor Angela.

Springsteen isn’t the only famous sibling in the film as Renee Estevez, the sister of both Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez, plays the innocent Molly. Molly is the camper who Angela feels close to as she reminds her of her former self in the original film. The shy type who does like a boy and finds competition from a bully, which is a clear reference to the first film. In this case, the “bully” is Ally, played by Valerie Hartman, who eyes Sean, played by Tony Higgins. It is clear that Sean does in fact like Molly more because she’s more of a girl next door type than the promiscuous Ally. He does get annoyed with Angela’s “moral” standards, but in a way, he does have a bi of respect for the counselor, until he learns the shocking truth in the film’s third act.

While the original film had its shares of suspenseful thrills, this sequel came out at a time where the likes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and subsequent sequels to the Nightmare of Elm Street films began adding dark humor to its stories and killing scenes. Simpson and writer Fritz Gordon injected the dark humor route when it comes to the film’s killing scenes. And speaking of both Leatherface and Freddy, one particular kill scene pays homage to them as well as Jason Voorhees as two unlucky campers’ attempt to disguise themselves as two of the iconic slashers gets themselves killed by Angela, who disguises herself as the third. The third act brings in an unexpected twist but also adds a bit of the predictability expected in horror film franchises.

Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers is not a completely bad sequel. Some of the deaths are quite inventive and it was released at a time where dark humor was an element used in the genre. Plus, kudos goes to Pamela Springsteen for giving it her all as Angela.

WFG RATING: C+

A Double Helix Films production. Director: Michael A. Simpson. Producers: Jerry Silva and Michael A. Simpson. Writer: Fritz Gordon; based on an original idea by Robert Hiltzik. Cinematography: Bill Mills. Editing; John David Allen.

Cast: Pamela Springsteen, Renee Estevez, Tony Higgins, Valerie Hartman, Susan Marie Snyder, Brian Patrick Clarke, Walter Gotell, Terry Hobbs, Kendall Bean, Julie Murphy, Carol Chambers. Amy Fields, Benji Wilhoite, Walter Franks III

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