Welcome back, Campers!!
This time we’re back in the same old campground with new owners and a new name: Camp New Horizons. One year after Angela Johnson (aka Angela Baker, aka Peter Baker) slaughters most of the campers and counselors at Camp Rolling Hills and disappears without a trace, the camp is re-opened as what owners Herman and Lily (get it?) refer to as “An Experiment in Sharing”. A group of privileged kids are mixed together with a bunch of kids from the inner city, hoping to find common ground between the rich and the poor. Sounds like a lovely idea, right? Except one of the campers, Maria (aka Milk Shake), meets an unfortunate end with a garbage truck and someone else shows up to the camp in her place.
Right off the bat, the murders start up again, beginning with a reporter who is apparently too stupid to tell the difference between Drain-o and high quality cocaine. Angela/Maria wastes no time picking up her quest of weeding out the good kids from the bad, although this time she has to be careful: one of the counselors, Barney, is not only the cop that arrested her after the first batch of murders at Camp Arawak years ago, but he is also Sean’s father.
I love this movie, maybe not quite as much as part 2, but it has its own quirky charm. From the get-go, I think it’s clear that the most of the shared budget for the two sequels was spent on the first. This film has a much smaller cast and feels a bit claustrophobic compared to its predecessor. Also, the death sequences aren’t nearly as elaborate or inventive. But it’s fun to watch Pamela Springsteen ham it up as Angela again. The other notable performance here is from Michael J. Pollard as Herman, the pervy old owner (He’s been in a ton of movies, but most of you might recognize him from the opening scene of House of 1000 Corpses).
All the things that made Unhappy Campers so much fun are here: heavy metal, boobs, sex, snotty teenagers (instead of the Brat Pack, this time most of them named after the Brady Bunch), and Angela’s one-liners, but it doesn’t feel the same. The film itself even acknowledges this fact, with Angela reminiscing on what a great time she had the year before, and Lily, the penny-pinching owner, constantly bemoaning the fact that they’re running the camp on a tight budget. I would have liked to see what this movie could have been if they had just a bit more money; both films were shot back-to-back, part 3 being written while part 2 was being shot, at a shared cost of $465,000.
At the end, Angela is caught, but as she’s being carted away in an ambulance, she makes quick work of the two paramedics as they discuss putting her down for good. The ending was left wide-open for a sequel. Shame we never got one. They started to shoot part 4, subtitled The Survivor, with none of the cast of parts 2 or 3 returning, but they ran out of money. What footage there is was included in the Sleepaway Camp DVD box set. The only other sequel we got was Return to Sleepaway Camp, but it ignores the events of parts 2 and 3 and is a follow-up to the original film.
Im a way, these are my favorite kinds of horror movies: low-budget, quirky, with homemade effects and they don’t take themselves too seriously. I keep hoping that with the wave of 80s nostalgia they get Pamela Springsteen out of retirement and one day come out with a new installment to give her Angela a proper trilogy and the fans of these movies one more gory, silly romp around the woods.
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