The Films (4/5, 3/5)
I was about 8 years old when I first saw Sleepaway Camp 2. By modern parenting standards much too young for a film this packed with nudity and violence, but at that age the nudity went over my head, and my mind went straight for the violence and scares. I remember being at my Stepdad's sisters house for a Halloween party. The party didn't consist of much "partying" as I recall, but they did a VHS double feature of Rosemary's Baby and Sleepaway Camp 2, which had me glued to the TV then, and has me wondering what they were thinking now, with those 2 films being polar opposites one being a slow burn, the other being an over the top slasher (I'll leave it to you to figure out which is which).
It would be years before I'd see Sleepaway Camp 2 again, and even longer before I saw the original, or the third film in the series. I remember not so much being taken by surprise by the original film, or it's ending when I finally did see it, but more how different it was from the second film. When I finally saw the third film as part of the Anchor Bay Sleepaway Camp box set, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the film was in line, though not as good, as the 2nd.
The general consensus of the Sleepaway Camp trilogy (I still have yet to see Return to Sleepaway Camp) is that fans of the Michael Simpson directed sequels are not typically fans of the Robert Hiltzik directed original and vice-versa. I, however, find myself a great fan of the trilogy as a whole now that I've had time to get on the wavelength of all 3 films. The first is a lot more grimey, and less violent, but has touches of camp, and sequences that are truly bizarre. Whereas the sequels up the camp factor and the violence, and create something that is truly unique even amongst it's 80's horror brethren.
Sleepaway Camp 2 picks up 4 years after the events of Sleepaway Camp, Angela Baker finds herself out of the asylum, complete with a full sex change, and back at another camp. This time as a counselor under the name Angela Johnson. She has lost none of her psychotic tendencies in the last 4 years, and has begun "sending campers home", when they act in a way she deems unethical (drinking, drug doing, staying out late with the boys, etc). Of course, after too many campers have been sent home, the other senior counselors and the camp owner begin to notice, and come down on Angela, which makes her even crazier.
Sleepaway Camp 2 is a camp slasher bloodbath in a decade where these films were all over the place. This particular film, manages to stand out with a mix of camp atmosphere, humor, over the top nudity, and elaborate kills. This, however, wouldn't mean much if it weren't for a great villian, and Pamela Springsteen's version of Angela is a twisted little creation that is truly one of the great characters of 80's horror. Springsteen plays in the same twisted moralistic ballpark as a Pamela Voorhees or Margaret White with the exception that her Angela Baker has a bizarre cheeriness to it that makes it all the more creepy.
The third film follows a year on from the 2nd. Angela escaped after the events of 2, and is now interested in going back to camp. Camp Arawak from the second film has been purchased by a pair of cheapskates trying to turn the place into a home for their social experiment, bringing teenagers of different social standings together to meet, and understand each other. Angela begins the film by killing one of them in her urban neighborhood in a truly fun opening sequence involving a garbage truck, and then taking her place, bad wig and all.
The film then sees Angela make her way through the kids and counselors at the camp, one of whom is the parent a teenage victim massacred in the prior film. This decision offers up a tiny bit of depth to the whole thing. Sleepaway Camp 3 is a fun film, but it's honestly more of the same. It was shot during the same shooting sessions that brought about the prior sequel, and it contains the same over the top nudity, and extreme slasher filled violence that made the second film a delight.
Springsteen offers a similarly great lunatic performance, and yet it feels lacking in comparison to what come before. Further, the film's overall theme regarding bringing together social and racial differences together offers unintentional social subtext, that is both heavy handed at times, and absolutely silly when it plays out. When someone like John Carpenter or George Romero handles social subtext in genre cinema, it tends to work nicely. In this film, it just feels tacky. Overall, Sleepaway Camp 3 is a fun film for the slasher faithful, it’s just a film that had a lot to live up to in the shadow of the awesomeness that came before.
Audio/Video (3/5, 3/5)
No one will ever mistake either Sleepaway Camp 2 or 3 as reference quality Blu-ray transfers, but Scream Factory did their best here, and it truly is a substantial upgrade from what came before. Both films are presented in their original 1:78:1 aspect ratio with a 1080p AVC encoded transfer, and both basically share the same highlights as well as the same issues. The Blu-ray's of both films offer excellent naturalistic transfer, with solid fine detail, accurate flesh tones, and good colors. The downside is the brighter scenes (think daytime moments) have a certain bleached out appearance to them, and certain other scenes also suffer from minor softness. There is also damage, not to any great degree, from the source.
The DTS-HD mono track in English is suitable for the film. The dialogue and score come thorugh nicely, and I did not detect any issues.
Extras (3.5, 4/5)
Scream Factory have put together solid extras packages for both Sleepaway Camp 2 and 3. Both contain commentaries by director Michael Simpson. Each disc contains half of a documentary in regard to the sequel, there is behind the scenes footage for both films, a home video trailer for the 2nd film, on the 2nd film's Blu we get a revisit of the film's locations, and short film that recreates the death of Molly, which was never shot. Both films include trailers, stills galleries, and deleted scenes. The third film includes a VHS-sourced workprint of the film, and a short about the actor playing Tony running from his hotel room.
Sleepaway Camp 2 is one of the best slasher films of the 80's PERIOD. The third film offers more of the same, so the formula gets a bit diluted, but it's still fun. The transfer from Scream are imperfect, but are about as good as one will ever get with these films, and they both sound fine. The extras packages are nice and elaborate, so yeah, both of these Blu-ray's are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.