Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988)

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There’s a lot of ghoulish fun to be had here. Gone are the pointless whodunnit shadings of the first film and any pursuit of the transgender subplot is done between movies. By the time we meet Angela Baker here (now played by Pamela Springsteen, the lesser-known sister of the well-known Springsteen) she has transitioned fully into a woman and is older, wiser and more cunning. Sleepaway Camp II skips a few beats movie-wise and dives right into the self-aware, kill-comedy arena the second time around (it took Freddy and Jason at least three or four sequels before lapsing into parody).

It’s great to have a serial killer with a face and personality. For all means and purposes Angela is still the protagonist of the series, despite the fact she’s a psycho. This girl enjoys killing and enjoys finding inventive ways to do so while deploying quippy one-liners. I liked this new dynamic on the slasher flick. The film takes great pleasure in Angela’s murders and practically has her winking at the audience when a soon-to-be victim crops up. My favourite scene involves a female counsellor telling Angela – the girl is unaware she is speaking to the killer – that she has come across some suspicious evidence that would surely expose the perpetrator for all the strange crimes. We know what Angela is going to do. And we see her coolly parading around the room sizing up potential weapons or methods to dispatch the poor girl before finally doing so in glorious fashion. It’s a fun take on a boring scene and the film is full of those little reversals. Director Michael A. Simpson and writer Fritz Gordon know what the audience want and side with them in their glee for bloodlust. And why not? Everyone is on the same page here; the cast, the crew, the audience – we just want some mindless murder and a good time. That’s exactly what the film delivers.

As far as sequels go this is very characteristic of the 80s. It has nothing to rival the impact of it’s predecessor’s finale but purposefully takes a shift in tone. This one is played totally for laughs but it doesn’t sacrifice the gore and splat. Considering the abundance of horror franchises in full swing in 1988, they had to do something different as an antidote and this film is fun attempt at doing so. In one scene, a bunch of pranksters dress up in not-quite-but-obviously-meant-to-be Freddy and Jason masks only for Angela to savagely massacre them all with ease. The message? There’s no 80s serial killer quite like Angela Baker. Springsteen gives the role her all and she’s a riot. She carves her own path and with no shortage of competition, that’s quite a feat.

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