Return to Sleepaway Camp (DVD)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Vincent Pastore, Jackie Tohn, Isaac Hayes, Paul DeAngelo, Jonathan Tiersten, Michael Gibney, Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten
Directed by Robert Hiltzik
Distributed by Magnet Pictures
It's been over two decades since Angela and her flaccid peenie stalked the campgrounds of Camp Arawak, and since then fans of this slasher series have been waiting with much anticipation for director Robert Hiltzik to retake the reins and deliver a true and proper sequel. That time is finally upon us, but after seeing this flick, I kind of wish that it hadn't arrived.
The film starts with Camp Manabe open and in full swing. Resident muscle-headed counselor Ronnie (a returning DeAngelo) from the first movie is now working with hothead and co-owner of the camp Frank (Pastore) to deliver kids a great wholesome and safe summer. Everything's just as it should be except for the fact that the camp troublemaker Alan (a most annoying Gigney) is rubbing all those involved the wrong way. Everyone from the counselors to the kids pick on him (can't blame them, if I were a murderer I would have killed him myself), and as a result he loses it. Then bodies start piling up. Is it Alan doing these murderous deeds or has Angela come home to cause more havoc at her old stomping grounds?
That's your story, and while it works for the most part, its execution is laughable. Don't get me wrong. I loved Sleepaway Camp, and its sequels -- though pretty wretched in their own right -- hold a small place in my black little heart. But this? I'm sorry, man, but this is just a plain old bad movie. Bringing back some of the cast from the original film was a cool idea, and you know what? Twenty years ago their lack of acting skills was kind of cute and entertaining. Now it's just painful. That, coupled with the fact that the kills in this movie pale in comparison to the somewhat ingenious ones in the latter flicks, makes this a pretty damned sorry experience. What happened, man? Where was all the sick? The gore doesn't really get cooking until the last fifteen minutes, and even then it doesn't really deliver. Even worse? The best kill of Return to Sleepaway Camp takes place after the end credits have rolled so I'm sure the majority of folks out there will miss it.
Then there's the twist. The one in the original was startling and memorable. Here? If you don't see it coming from more than a mile away within the first act, you obviously are either brain dead or don't watch enough movies. Twenty-one years for this? Inexcusable.
The DVD itself is home to some fairly extensive special features. Sleepaway historian Jeff Hayes was instrumental in the resurrection of this franchise so it's only fitting that he get his due by having the supplemental features duties fall squarely upon his shoulders. Things kick off with a near half-hour long behind-the-scenes featurette that was actually a bit more fun than the movie itself. From there we get fifteen video interviews, a photo gallery, and a music track of the film's theme song Return to Sleepaway Camp performed by Goat and friends. What we have here is a fairly robust package that ends up on the amateurish side of the fence.
To summarize, gone is the really black humor of the first film. Gone is the insane twist. Gone are the inventive kills. And gone is nearly all of the charm that has kept this franchise alive. I would have rated this even lower if not for the nostalgia factor. Man, what a letdown. It's back to the original for me. Sigh.
1 1/2 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5
Discuss Return to Sleepaway Camp in our Dread Central forums!