Friday, June 12, 2015

Sleepaway Camp II Unhappy Campers (Scream Factory Blu-ray) - This Camper is Happy

I’ve written about my love affair with Sleepaway Camp II for quite some time. It’s almost become my defining movie…well that and that other movie with the tarot cards and the train and Peter Cushing telling “futures”, but in all actuality this is a pivotal movie for me. It’s the first movie that I actively went out, ordered from Blockbuster Video and owned. I made them order it. They didn’t know what it was and when I received it I promptly fast forwarded to one of the better topless scenes featuring Valerie Hartman (or as I refer to her… my star bride). I had rented it regularly and this would be a movie to OWN purchased by ME. This wasn’t some holiday gift. This wasn’t E.T. on Christmas morning. This was boobs in hand, keep-your-tits-growing, I’m telling, where’d I put that damn pit toilet mine. When Scream Factory released the original Sleepaway Camp last year I was only moderately excited. I wanted them ALL. I wanted a new American Red Cross, lawsuit jamming box set. A year later, Summer of Fear part 2 officially strikes my nostalgia chord and libido at the exact same time. All I can say is, “thank you”.

On to the review and enough with this petty emotion shit. Sleepaway Camp II proves that a franchise can change. We aren’t stuck with the same killer kid running through the woods with his/her schlong handing out while she sings a quiet song. We have a full on menace on our hands. It’s not Arawack anymore. It’s Rolling Hills. Different camp. Same result… or not quite. Actually the kills are more over the top than the original. This nearly meta slasher has comedy, gore, excellent albet campy (pun fully intended) effects and a great song. It also has… what Sleepaway Camp one clearlymissed… the importance of party hats.

Sleepaway Camp II has a great sense of humor, knows that it had a low budget and works perfectly well within it that with excellent casting decisions and… god forbid… fun. This is one fun movie. Looking for a serious horror picture/slasher movie. This ain’t it. This is for the happy campers that understand that chocking someone to death with a  guitar string is as important as cooking them alive on a BBQ grill.

The extra package on this one is important. The Michael Simpson commentary is awesome and a must listen to. The two part making of feature is a treat. It basically explains how we get “two movies for the price of one”, what casting decisions were made, effects decisions and how a small budget can actually create opportunities for great horror. The abandoned shooting location feature feels like a great big, Weird NJ ghost hunt. I love when folks go into the woods to explore abandon buildings. Makes you want to take a trip down to Georgia. If I have two gripes with this release let it’s that a. I do not like the new artwork for this one. I strongly dislike the way Pamela Springsteen is portrayed. That’s personal preference. The rest of the background is fine. Luckily you can flip to the traditional reverse cover art, but the slip sleeve will always be the updated artwork. That brings me to my second gripe… and this is me being a friggin anal asshole so pay no mind. The reverse traditional cover art looks like a blown up low-res image. I could be completely off with this, but I have this cover memorized. It just feel like maybe something happened. It’s a nitpick. This is still the release to pickup and the extras along sell it for me. The transfer is incredible. A clear upgrade. Do not believe anyone trying to sell you otherwise. I have owned every release of this. I have seen it transform. I have watched it multiple times recently and watched this Blu-ray multiple times. The film grain is gorgeous. Good color saturation and contrast.

Bonus 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…
Abandoned – The Filming Locations Of SLEEPAWAY CAMP II & III – A Tour Of The Shooting Locales
Behind-The-Scenes Footage With Commentary By Michael A. Simpson
Home Video Promotional Trailer
Still Gallery

The Dead Air Podcast and I had the chance to do a full retrospective on the series a year back, and it’s amazing how much you can learn from just rewatching a movie with some updated special features. This is a no dead-teenager’s-brainer. You buy this disc. You buy part 3 (review to follow) and you watch that A tale of Two Sequels documentary and fall in love with these two features all over again. Make sure you figure out which 80’s icon each character is named for. It’s a fun drinking game.

Keep your tits growin! And order  a copy of Sleepaway Camp II now!

From Scream Factory:

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. RenĂ©e Estevez (Heathers, Intruder) and Walter Gotell (The Spy Who Loved Me) co-star in this outrageous sequel to the original cult classic.

I leave you with one of my favorite opening songs from any horror movie. 80's perfect. Hair aquanetted. Eyeliner ablaze.

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