Halloween Scene: Sleepaway Camp (1983) & Sleepaway Camp II (1988)

I have a very fond, yet weird memory of the first time I saw Sleepaway Camp. In high school, my friend Shannon had another group of friends and they watched the movie. She told me it was super weird and crazy, but also sported one of the most disturbing endings around. Soon after, I rented the flick from Family Video (they used to have two VHS rentals for a buck, so I could get a ton at once) and watched it at around 3AM in my room, alone. The movie was a pretty good camp slasher flick with some really big mind screws, but the ending came out of nowhere and completely surprised me. More on that in a bit.

The movie opens with a man swimming with his son and daughter in a lake until an out of control boat runs into them, killing the father and son. From there we skip ahead to the girl’s early teen years. She’s living with her ultra-weird aunt and her cousin Ricky. Angela’s really shy, but her aunt is sending the kids off to camp (it’s Angela’s first time, but Ricky’s been there a lot, not really sure what the reason for that is). Anyway, at camp, the quiet Angela is nearly silent and awkward, picked on by other kids and almost molested by the camp’s cook but also starts having a little thing going with Ricky’s friend. Meanwhile, the people who mess with Angela start dying. The movie doesn’t really lean too hard into one direction or another with suspects, going so far as to offer up other crazy people like councilor Meg who has an irrational hatred for Angela and Mozart, the other picked on kid who has a knife. But really, who else would go after the people that specifically messed with Angela.

Last time I watched SC with my buddy Rickey, I didn’t like it as much, but this time around, I found myself digging the movie again. It’s probably better than the majority of the F13 sequels and actually features a camp with campers and the whole thing. I also really dig that the kids act like real people. Pranks are pulled, curses are thrown around and insults hurled. This is how kids are, sometimes they’re dicks. I was also impressed with the effects, especially when the ultra creepy chimo cook gets boiling water splashed all over him. You can actually see the wounds pulsing! Good work. It’s not a perfect movie, though, especially if you like to think logically. Once they discover something’s up and people are being killed, the camp doesn’t lock down and start calling parents. Sure they consolidate some bunks, but they still have the little kids head out into the woods for a trip (most of them get axed to death because they threw sand at Angela) and they allow the older kids to keep wandering around and sneaking out. It’s a bit ridiculous.

Okay, so back to that ending. SPOILERS if you care. As it turns out, the girl in the beginning of the movie didn’t survive, the boy did. He got sent to live with his crazy aunt, but the aunt already had a boy, so she made Angela grow up as a little girl. At the end of the movie councilor Ronnie (who looks like one of the old bosses at Wizard) and another girl come up to the beach where Angela’s holding the boy and stroking his head, but it turns out she’s cut his head off. Then she stands up and you see that her body’s all hairy and she has a penis. He face turns into this crazy death mask and the screen freezes, then tints green for the credits. When I first watched this, like I said, I was alone and I couldn’t find my damn remote, so I had to watch that damn green face for way longer than I wanted to. It wasn’t nearly as scary on another viewing, but it did remind me of when it did, which was kind of fun.

There are three things that stuck with me about Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers from the first watching: the cover with the Jason mask and Freddy glove, the fact that Bruce Springsteen’s sister Pamela starred in it and that SPOILER Angela straight-up murdered every single camper, councilor and anyone else at the camp.

Overall, the story of SC 2 doesn’t make a ton of sense. After the events of the first movie, Angela went into a loonie bin where she received treatment and even a surgery. Now she’s a councilor at a camp, but starts murdering anyone who is bad in even the most limited sense of the word. Why would someone who was emotionally terrorized at a camp want to return to one? Who would hire a murderer who killed people at a camp to be a councilor? Why is Angela all of a sudden such a moral person? Before she only killed people who wronged her (even in a remote way, remember the sand throwing children?). I know I’m putting too much thought into this. What you’re really wondering is “how are the kills and are there boobs?” Pretty good and yes.

Since nearly everyone at the camp is kind of asshole, it’s not super bothersome to see them die, but there are a few I didn’t want to see die, especially the Final Girl who is really cute and likeable. Sure, it’s very obvious she’s the FG, but I liked her and the dude she was falling for.

Overall, I can’t say that SC 2 is a GOOD movie, but I think it’s a fun movie. Forget the logic gaps, there’s plenty of kills, some funny moments and enough background characters I liked to get me through it, something I can’t say about the 3rd movie, which I’ll talk about tomorrow. There’s definitely some nostalgia mixed in there as I rented this one after seeing the first one and dug it back then. I’ve said this before, but a lot of times, it’s the order that you see things in and not necessarily the quality of them. I definitely have more fond memories of this movie than I do most of the Friday sequels, but that’s just me. More on the other movies and my history with them tomorrow!

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