Sleepaway Camp 2
I first learned of Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers in 1988 when Fangoria #73 had an article on the sequels. I remembered the sullen “caveman girl” and was intrigued that she had blossomed into a happy go lucky, good looking killer. The issue had lots of promo pictures of her posing with all manner of gory corpses, and doubles of Freddy and Jason.
It wasn’t until 1991, my first year of high school, that I got to see Sleepaway 2 – here reversed-titled on the cover Unhappy Campers: Sleepaway Camp II. I traveled to a warehouse sized video store to grab a bunch of weeklies for the best kind of Friday Night – on my own with a stack of videos and a full cupboard of food. Anyway, I had no idea it was out in Australia. Such was the case with our county, we’d only get a fraction of what the Yanks were releasing, and only then impossibly late by years at times. It finally changed with the advent of DVD but anyway. When I stumbled onto it, I felt that first rush of nostalgia that is frequently the key to unlocking a purchase or rental of a sequel. The cover was so striking. I’d never seen the original knife-in-shoe cover of part one, so I didn’t take it was a reference.
That night I watched it, sandwiched between Cry Baby, The Blob, and Chillers (which itself has an anthology story akin to a Sleepaway film). I always remember back on that night for how those movies and Sleepaway 2 were all products of the late 80’s or close. In retrospect, that night was my official goodbye to the 80’s.
It was immediately known upon the viewing that our Sleepaway 2 was cut to ribbons. It looked like the film was spliced back together with masking tape. The blood level that has enamored so many, simply was not present. So that I loved the film on first viewing, is how I know I appreciated the other, some would say, lesser elements. Pam Springsteen’s lively performance as Angela. The party time feel. The bumper body count. And I could almost smell the pine in the forest.
Coming ’round the onset of puberty, the film also kept my attention on the chicks front. The Shit Sisters. Ally. Even Molly and Angela in their own way. This was an attractive harem of woman to tantalize my emerging appreciation of the female form. Good times, true and true.
Sleepaway Camp 3
Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland was never released in Australia. Virgin Video distributed part two, but went bust soon after. I don’t have much to say on my first viewing of it, because it was amid a disaster. Coming my personal worst day of 1992, the rental colour TV, VCR and washing machine in my home had been repossessed due to financial strain. Some very large men basically kicked the door down to regain them. It was like something out of Repo Man. That night I had to settle for a very small black & white TV given to me by one of my Aunts several years prior.
Like every film in the series, Sleepaway 3 popped up at me by complete surprise. Back then, the TV guide had been my bible, and before cable we only had 5 free-to-air channels, but this slipped by me. Sometime after midnight as I relaxed and ruminated on the day’s demeaning events, I switched that knob on the small plastic TV onto Channel 10 to find the film just starting. Amid the credits post-title card in fact, so it took a minute or two for its’ identity to register.
I fell asleep halfway through so didn’t get to see it in full until years later. But the image I remember as I floated off into much-needed slumberland was that of Angela in nirvana at the bottom of the flagpole after dropping Cindy Hammersmith. Just that image, in black and white, contrast levels too bright and emanating a radioactive glow from the set in the darkness of the living room, is burned into memory. I wouldn’t see the movie properly, and in color, until 1999!