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Review: Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers (1988)

Reviewer: Michael Sarago


Everybody’s favorite transvestite serial killer is back…with her tongue firmly placed in her cheek… and a little something missing from between her legs. This time around, quirky Angela Baker (now being played by Pamela Springsteen) daringly returns to camp once again with a completely different persona; that of an overly blithesome camp counselor with good intentions for her naughty little campers. But her sinister past fails to stay buried as each one of the troublemaking kiddies begin to show their true colors and quickly secure a place on Angela’s bad side.

Since the beginning of the slasher craze, the moral being sent out to teenagers wasn’t something you’d consider subtle. Getting involved with drugs, alcohol and premarital sex wasn’t just a sin in these movies, it was a first class ticket straight to hell by means of brutal slaughter. Failed attempts to instill values in these unlikable little drug-addled fornicating sinners (a.k.a. campers) leaves Angela with no choice but to follow this slasher trend and “weed out the bad”. The ongoing mistake of most filmmakers, however, was allowing this sort of teen behavior to seem funny and hip instead of shunned. But in Unhappy Campers, we’re given a much needed satirical take as we find ourselves rooting for the crazed killer instead of the victims, which is quite a welcomed departure.

As the campers quickly begin dropping like flies, Angela smoothly covers up her tracks by disguising all the disappearances as nothing more than kids who were sent home for unacceptable behavior. But good girl Molly (played by Renée Estevez) realizes that something isn’t quite right. Even though she’s the typical virginal sweetheart we’re meant to root for, I was very much in favor of Angela’s motive and couldn’t care less if she murdered a few innocents along the way. That, my friends, is the power of Pamela Springsteen. She somehow manages to put a hold over her audience, allowing her to get away with anything and still be lovable. She made me feel free to point and laugh at the mangled corpses of these idiots and not feel guilty about it. Sure, that’s an awful thing to do, but hey… these kids really had it coming, especially when they’re named after members of the 80's Brat Pack and sport mullets among other things.

Although the death sequences don’t have much gore and weren’t executed to their full potential (as a result of budget limits I’m sure), they still came off creatively funny and deliciously mean spirited. Using silly one-liners just before brutally disposing her victims, Angela makes sure to get her point across of how uncompromisingly stupid teenagers can be, leaving us laughing and anxiously anticipating her next move. Adding to the satire, there happens to be plenty of girls who love to flash their wobbly bits just about every two seconds for no apparent reason. With acting that could barely pass as decent, there are also plenty of horribly delivered lines of dialogue peppered throughout. Don’t be surprised if you’re brought to laughter by the unintentional humor more than anything. But as long as you’re laughing, who really cares, right?

While most horror movie sequels tend to be nothing more than boring and unneeded retreads, writer Fritz Gordon thankfully brought us into new territory with his cheesy yet utterly lovable sense of cruel humor. Although Unhappy Campers isn’t exactly a masterpiece and doesn’t quite compare to it’s predecessor, it still works nonetheless as a fun little guilty pleasure for us die hard slasher fans. After all, the world is a better place with killer Angela on the loose, ain’t it?



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