Much like its predecessor, also reviewed on this site – “Sleepaway Camp 2” is available in its entirety on Youtube. Why not dip into it so my spoiler-heavy review won’t spoil anything?
A group of kids at a different (but relatively nearby) summer camp handily recap the first film for us in the form of a campfire ghost story. There’s no particular reason to have Angela from the first film be in this – it could be a copycat teen with mental health issues, or one of her relatives or something. But no, it’s the same girl, played by a different actress, and they decide to reveal this fact in the first five minutes of the film, which is an interesting idea.
This is the summer camp where every 80s cliché imaginable goes to spend some time. Now, a lot of this review may well be completely false, based on my faulty understanding of summer camps. I always assumed they were mostly populated by kids of 14 and younger, and the rare older kids would be camp counsellors. In this film, it’s almost all older kids, with a few younger ones there to provide a link to the teen raunch movies set at summer camps by trying to take photos of women in the nude (oh, and getting murdered just before the end, but that’s not really a result of them being young). But you’re left with the slightly unsettling feeling of there being five counsellors for every kid, or Angela barking orders at a group of teens who all look older than she does.
Talking about the rules of film is boring, but if you watch enough garbage (85 reviews and counting!) you start to learn them in a rubbish savant sort of way. The way you realise you know them is what happens when you watch a film that doesn’t obey – sometimes, it’s as simple as B needing to follow A for a film to make sense, but on other occasions it’s a bit more complex. In “Sleepaway Camp 2”, you know who the murderer is right from the start, and because we spend so much time with her, and because virtually everyone at the summer camp is a scumbag, our sympathies start to lie with Angela. But there’s a problem there, in that we we never learn why she’s decided to carry on with her career of wholesale murder of people at summer camps, and her reasons for killing people, tenuous at the beginning, just become silly by the end. So we’re really left with no-one to care about, apart from Molly, one of the teenagers who isn’t so much a protagonist as a lucky survivor.
Before I continue – the two leading ladies in this film are relatives of much more famous people – Pamela Springsteen (Bruce’s sister) is Angela, and Renee Estevez, who I think is a cousin or something of Charlie and Emilio, is Molly. Still not as good as the ragtag band of celeb-relatives in “The Roller Blade Seven”, but a respectable showing.
You don’t need me to tell you 90% of the plot of this film. Teens get killed, a lot. There’s a risky reference to Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers at one point too – it’s one of the strictest rules of cinema:
“If you make a bad movie, don’t have references in it to good ones, as people will just want to go and watch that instead”
“Good” is obviously relative here. Anyway, the thing that intrigues about this movie is the fairly gleeful way Angela goes about her business of punishing people for basically any activity she sees as even slightly bad. Walk around your dorm topless? That’s a killing. Be slightly mean to Angela? That’s a killing. Try and have sex with someone or smoke a joint? You’d better believe that’s a killing.
We find out at the end that Angela was released from the mental institution, and that she had a sex change while she was there. I mean, this is so commonplace in movies that I barely need to mention it – lots of mentally ill teen murderers locked up in mental institutions are given sex changes on the public dime. Now she’s a woman and has gone through all that therapy, and is considered well enough (after committing a lot of murders, lest we forget) she seems to go right back to killing people, with nary a hint of remorse or explanation as to why she does so.
As we drag on towards the film’s inevitable conclusion, there’s some fun to be had. A kid gets stabbed in the leg and then sort-of gives up, lying down and letting Angela kill him (when Angela gets a similar injury near the end, not only does it not seem to bother her all that much but she catches someone who is running for her life and has a start on her). Two teens have sex, and as the woman’s getting up she says “listen, you don’t have AIDS or anything, do you?” Ah, the 80s. There are a couple of classic slasher movie bits – decapitated head placed inside a broken television, our heroine cackles “Have you seen what’s on TV?” and she picks up, tests and discards a series of potential murder weapons before settling on one (a full 6 years before Quentin Tarantino had the same idea for “Pulp Fiction”).
Angela’s fired before she can finish killing everyone, which must have been a bit of a bummer for her – still, she doesn’t let it get her down and kills everyone anyway. Don’t think too hard about the end, because you’ll just get annoyed (I certainly was) and just relish the knowledge that no resolution was gained, the bad guy won easily, and it didn’t so much end as the filmmakers hit 80 minutes of usable footage and went “that’ll do”. Next up, “Sleepaway Camp 3”!!