Saturday, October 6, 2018

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS (1988) from Scream Factory - October 6, 2018

Starring Pamela Springsteen, Renée Estevez, Tony Higgins, Brian Patrick Clarke, Walter Gotell, Valerie Hartman
Written by Fritz Gordon (based on an original idea by Robert Hiltzik)
Cinematography by Bill Mills
Edited by John David Allen
Produced by Stan Wakefield, Michael A. Simpson, Jerry Silva, Robert F. Phillips
Directed by Michael A. Simpson
Originally released by Nelson Entertainment
Released by Scream Factory

Welcome back to another installment of Phil's Halloween Horror Watch! For Day Six, I decided to go back to youthful days and revisit a personal favorite of mine. A film that I hold near and dear to me. And it was a sequel to one of the most infamous slasher flicks of all time! A sequel that I didn't see coming, but I loved the hell out of it! So for today kids, we're gonna take a trip back to 1988, and visit Camp Roaring Hills to watch SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS!

The film's official synopsis: Welcome to Camp Rolling Hills! Meet your camp counselor, Angela Baker! She's the kind of counselor who enjoys camp songs, nature walks, board games and… murder! Five years after the horrific slaughter at Camp Arawak, Angela (Pamela Springsteen, FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH) has created a new position for herself as a counselor at Camp Rolling Hills. Angela is about to teach "bad campers" a brutal lesson in survival when they are sliced, stabbed, drilled… and much worse. Renée Estevez (HEATHERS, INTRUDER) and Walter Gotell (THE SPY WHO LOVED ME) co-star in this outrageous sequel to the original cult classic.

Director Michael A. Simpson had the daunting task up of making a follow-up to one of the most notorious horror films from this era. Not only that, but he had to make both this movie and the other sequel back to back! What he accomplished was simply amazing! Simpson had to fight tooth and nail to make the films he wanted to make, which included some outstanding kills, that unfortunately, were trimmed down because of the MPAA (Booooooo!!!) He shot some gory death scenes, especially in the third film. But what he captured on film is now part of horror film history! Truth be told, I love the sequels more than the original film. And yes, if that makes me an asshole, then so be it! But there's a lot of energy and cleverness in this movie. For example, the characters Charlie and Emilio (played by Jason Ehrlich and Justin Nowell respectively) are the real life names of Renee Estevez brothers, Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez. Also, the other characters are named after actors associated with the 80's Brat Pack like Molly (Molly Ringwald), Ally (Ally Sheedy), TC (Tom Cruise), Rob (Rob Lowe), Demi (Demi Moore),  and so forth. This was a very smart idea from screenwriter Fritz Gordon. These two men would repeat this in the next installment.
Original In-Store Promotional Poster (1988)

As for the out lead actress, if her last name looks familiar, well it should! Pamela Springsteen is indeed the younger sister to the man himself: "The Boss" Bruce Springsteen! Now original Angela Baker actress Felissa Rose was asked to return but she was getting ready to attend college. Springsteen would return for the sequel, but then left acting to become a well-known photographer. Renée Estevez would go on to appear in a number of movies like HEATHERS, INTRUDER, SINGLE WHITE FEMALE, and another personal favorite of mine GOOD GIRLS DON'T. She also had a recurring character named Nancy on the hit TV show The West Wing, appearing alongside her father Martin Sheen.

The movie received a limited theatrical release on August 26, 1988. But it found a wider audience when it was released on VHS by Nelson Entertainment just two months later. In 2002, Anchor Bay Entertainment released the film on DVD and as part of their SLEEPAWAY CAMP SURVIVAL KIT Boxset. On June 9, 2015, Scream Factory (an imprint of Shout! Factory) released a Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Collector's Edition of the movie.

Special features on the discs include Audio Commentary with Director Michael A. Simpson and Writer Fritz Gordon, "A Tale of Two Sequels" – Part One featuring new interviews with director Michael A. Simpson, cinematographer Bill Mills, editor John David Allen and more, "Abandoned: The Filming Locations of SLEEPAWAY CAMP II & III"– A tour of the shooting locales Behind The Scenes Footage with commentary by Michael A. Simpson, Home Video Promotional Trailer, and a Still Gallery.

SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS is one of the best horror film sequels of all time!! Fans of the original movie should definitely see this one!! And don't listen to those naysayers who think the movie isn't good! It's one of the best direct video released of all time! And 30 years after its original release, the movie still holds up and will take you back to those simpler days of renting movies at your local mom&pop video stores!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS is available in a Blu-Ray/DVD Combo from Scream Factory. To purchase a copy, visit their website at To learn more about the history of the SLEEPAWAY CAMP franchise, visit the film's official website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the horror!

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