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Sleepaway Camp II & Sleepaway Camp III (Collector's Editions) - Blu-ray Review

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Sleepaway Camp II and Speeaway Camp III - Blu-ray Review

4 stars

Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (Collector’s Edition) (1988)

3 stars

Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (Collector’s Edition) (1989)

"It seems every year I'm at camp someone loses their head."

Finally, the long wait is over. Angela Baker is coming home … again.

There are very few writers who truly understand how comedy can support horror and vice versa in the filmmaking community. Fritz Gordon, the screenwriter of Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers and Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland, knows his stuff when it comes to merging the two genres into a cohesive whole. Together, he and director Michael A. Simpson took an effective horror film that was still not forgotten by the general public and built a franchise full of laughs and bloodcurdling screams. Shout! Factory's horror imprint Scream Factory – always the reliable supplier of chills, spills, and bloody thrills – celebrates all things related to summer camp, teen sex, and buckets of blood with their release of these two sequels.

After 1983’s Sleepaway Camp (which, if you are interested, was released in 2014 on blu-ray also by Scream Factory) complete with its head-twisting ending involving (cough) Angela’s (cough) “secret” (cough), disappeared into the ether of the slasher genre with its Freddy Krueger and its Jason Voorhees, its director and creator, Robert Hiltzik, sold the rights to producer Jerry Silva and went to law school. Don’t worry, he eventually gets the rights back but the move was a financially solid one, allowing Simpson and Gordon to build upon what he originally created.

Injecting more black humor into its campfire tale and a hell of a lot more blood, the “rogue” Sleepaway Camp sequels were both commissioned to shoot over a 6-week period at a YMCA youth camp in Waco, Georgia with the same crew. Starring Pamela Springsteen, the sequels quickly fill in the prolonged gap since audiences last saw Angela on the lake’s shore with an insane smile plastered on her face and her dick swinging free in the night air. That’s right, campers. Angela’s a boy. But you already knew that … especially if you are interested in reading about these two flicks.

In the time between the original movie and Sleepaway Camp II, she’s been snipped and equipped; she’s all woman. She’s also gone through therapy. But still, as a camp counselor, she hungers for the hunting of hormonally-charged teenagers who can’t abide by camp rules. This time her kills are precise and creative. Some are roasted on huge grills. Some are gutted by drills. And one, the most promiscuous of the ladies (played by the often topless Valerie Hartman), is shoved headfirst into the toilet of a leech-infested outhouse. It ain’t pretty what she does but it sure the hell is funny. And the one-liners that come zinging out of her mouth are exquisite. And that’s just the first sequel.

Things get much worse (in a good way) with its immediate follow-up. Critics are far too harsh in their diatribes against the third film. Having murdered everyone in one camp, Sleepaway Camp III opens with Angela on the run. She assumes the identity of a teenage girl – with the words “milk” and “shake” tattooed on her breasts – who is invited to yet another camp (after running her down in a Mack truck and placing her body in a trash compactor). The new camp is already in the news as its primary purpose is to unite rich and poor teenagers of America under one banner of equity. It is an experiment in sharing and camp councilors Herman (Michael J. Pollard), Lily (Sandra Dorsey) and Officer Barney Whitmore (Cliff Brand) will oversee the cruelty destined to occur as serial killer Angela quickly returns to her established patterns.

So neither one of the sequels compares to the tone in the original film but, in all honesty, that is not their purpose. Needing to bring something new to the slasher genre, both films inject some long overdue humor and sharp satire. Sleepaway Camp II is still a breath of fresh air. It is rich with solid laughs and some pretty gruesome practical effects. I know I should like its immediate sequel less than I do, but there’s something about the frankness of Sleepaway Camp III that I find disturbing and appealing all at once. It’s politically incorrect but wears that like some badge of honor as, one by one, a whole new round of hysterical murders are initiated; one with a lawnmower after a person has been planted in the ground.

Gross, right? Welcome back to camp, trooper. It’s hell on earth disguised as teenage anarchy.  

These films are special as they depict a time in fashion sense when men weren’t afraid to wear cut-off shirts and tight shorts with headbands and socks pulled to their knees. In all seriousness, though, these two films transcend the entire kids-get-hacked-to-death-at-summer-camp motif of the first and become something so bizarre and unique that they are worth revisiting on a yearly basis. The entire trilogy (because we certainly can’t count what happened after 1989) is unique in the brand of horror that it offers. A transgender killer. I mean, what other horror film offers that? The Crying Game should be ashamed of itself. Angela Baker was first and much, much better at what she does.

So I cordially invite you to return to Sleepaway Camp II & III, where the moments of sadistic satire are as sharp as the knives.

Sleepaway Camp II and Speeaway Camp III - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Sleepaway Camp II Unhappy Campers

Available on Blu-ray - June 9, 2015
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc
Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD)
DVD copy
Region Encoding: A

Sleepaway Camp III: Unhappy Campers

Available on Blu-ray - June 9, 2015
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc
Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD)
DVD copy
Region Encoding: A

While not new 2K scans, the AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.85:1 used is a solid offering of color, contrast, and texture. Both films benefit from the upgrade, with the third film coming in with a stronger finish. Blacks are never weak and flesh tones are vibrantly textured. Nothing has been this clear for either film before. Both of the films were shot largely outside and the environments are replicated with bursts of sunlight that look great here in HD. A lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track handles the sound for each release.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Both films feature an informative commentary track from Director Michael A. Simpson And Writer Fritz Gordon as they discuss the making of each film.

Special Features:

Scream Factory and its Red Shirt Productions banner do not disappoint with the making of featurette spread across the two releases. Part One, focusing on the crew, is presented on Sleepaway Camp II and its conclusion, featuring cast and crew, is on Sleepaway Camp III. For anyone who is a fan of the series this is a must-see, which makes these two releases MUST-OWNS. The two special features are very thorough and go into the rich history of the franchise while under the guard of Simpson and Gordon. There are also featurettes covering the locations used, some behind the scenes footage, and stills. Well worth the price.

Sleepaway Camp II:

  • A Tale of Two Sequels Part One (29 min)
  • Abandoned – Filming Locations of Sleepaway Camp II & III (15 min)
  • Behind The Scenes Footage (13 min)
  • Home Video Promotional Trailer (2 min)
  • Still Gallery (7 min)
  • Whatever Happened to Molly? Short Film (1 min)
  • Home Video Trailer (2 min)

Sleepaway Camp III:

  • A Tale of Two Sequels Part Two (26 min)
  • Behind-The-Scenes Footage (8 min)
  • Workprint of the Longer Cut (90 min)
  • Deleted Scenes (18 min)
  • Short Film Tony Lives (1 min)
  • Home Video Promotional Trailer (2 min)
  • Still Gallery (4 min)

 

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