Guest Contributor Seamus Flynn:
Sleepaway Camp II causes quite a rift among Sleepaway Camp fans. Some love the movie for it’s originality and the pre-Scream self-aware horror-comedy elements, whereas others feel it is too different from the first film and find the change in tone too jarring. I fall in the first camp (no pun intended). While this film doesn’t top the original, I love it for taking a new direction and not just repeating the previous film. The character of Molly, played by Renée Estevez, is more developed than the normal final girl, and the supporting characters are all great and quirky in their own ways. The glue that holds it all together, however, is Pamela Springsteen as Angela. She is hilariously murderous and sweet at the same time. She’s also quite an interesting character. The slower, dialogue-driven scenes between her and Molly or her and Uncle John, played by Walter Gotell, are some of the best parts of the film. The death scenes are also fantastic with fun effects by Bill “Splat” Johnson. Overall, if you go into this film expecting anything similar to the first film, you will be disappointed. But if you watch the film with an open mind, you may find yourself liking it almost as much as the first. (Score: 4/5)
Sleepaway Camp II looks about as good as I expected it to. It is a significant improvement over the Anchor Bay disc, with better grain structure, more detail, and an overall clearer image. Print damage is rare and not distracting the few times it does appear. I did not notice any obvious compression artifacts. However, there are downsides. The main problem is muted colors in the daytime scenes, which seems to be a problem with the master itself and not specifically with this transfer as the Anchor Bay disc also had this problem. Fine detail is improved on compared to the old DVD but doesn’t impress nearly as much as the Scream’s transfer of the first film did. The faults in the transfer, however, cannot be blamed on Scream Factory. The issues in the transfer are due to the HD master used for the transfer being older, most likely created around the very early 2000’s. The original negative for this film is lost and this is the best transfer possible at this point in time, and probably will be forever unless the original negative or interpositive is discovered. The issues in the transfer are due to the HD master used for the transfer being older, most likely created around the very early 2000’s. (Score: 3.5/5)
Sleepaway Camp II has a relatively simple sound design and it’s audio will never wow people. However, this release sounds crisp and clear enough to handle the material. The music, sound effects, and dialogue sound fine and never muffled. (Score: 4/5)
Scream Factory has assembled a nice selection of supplements for this Blu-ray release.
-Audio Commentary with Michael A. Simpson & Fritz Gordon, Moderated by John Klyza (1:20:06, the runtime of the film) is from the Anchor Bay DVD. It is very informative. Simpson tends to be more talkative than Gordon but both provide good insight into the making of the film. Klyza does a valuable job as moderator; he keeps the conversation going and throws in some interesting facts about the film as well.
-A Tale of Two Sequels – Part One: Back to Camp (28:06) is a very interesting featurette on the making and release of Sleepaway Camp II. A decent amount of people are interviewed and provided good insight into the production of the film. It repeats some important information from the commentary.
–Abandoned – The Filming Locations of Sleepaway Camp II&III(15:28) is a very neat inclusion. It revisits the YMCA camp in Georgia where the movies were filmed. Now, it is overrun with foliage and the cabins are collapsing. It’s a little sad to see such a beautiful location treated so badly.
-Behind the Scenes Footage with Commentary from Michael A. Simpson (13:21) is a holdover from the Anchor Bay DVD. It is a neat little glimpse behind the scenes of the shooting of the film. It’s neat that something like this was made during the production of the movie as you don’t often get to see behind-the-scenes featurettes for older films.
-Home Video Trailer (2:24) is a trailer from back in the day advertising the VHS of the film to video rental stores. It includes a lot of fun bits from the film. If you haven’t already seen Sleepaway Camp II, I don’t recommend watching this. Since it was made for video store owners and not for audiences, it spoils a lot of the film’s deaths & plot points.
-Short Film: Whatever Happened to Molly? (0:50) is a new short film by Sleepaway Camp Films’ own John Klyza. It shows the possible fate of Molly based on an early version of the Sleepaway Camp II script. It is very short but is a nifty epilogue to Sleepaway Camp II and is filmed in a style similar to that of Sleepaway Camp II’s climax that helps it feel like a valid part of the Sleepaway Camp legacy.
-Still Gallery (7:07) provides a good amount of images from the shoot, and also from lobby cards, press kit, posters, etc. It’s a nice inclusion.
(Extras Score: 4/5)
This is a great, long-overdue release of one of the most inventive horror films of the 80’s. Good picture and very good audio and extras greatly add to the value of the Blu-ray. (Overall Score: 4/5)