It’s a bad sign for a movie when you’re barely halfway through and practically pleading with the killer to step up his efforts.
Twenty-five years ago the first Sleepaway Camp was a minor cult hit, mainly because it turned out that the killer, Angela, was actually a transvestite—beating The Crying Game, I should add, by a good nine years. Well, Return picks up the story twenty-five years later with one of the few surviving characters, Ronnie, working at another camp, and Angela locked up in a sanitarium. Naturally, a new rash of killings starts up and we get to watch Ronnie freak out like a ‘Nam vet having flashbacks while the killer mows through the ridiculously old campers with increasingly complex, Rube Goldbergian devices.
I know it tends to be chic in modern horror movies to root for the killer, but most of the time that’s because the killer has some sense of style or humor that makes them identifiable (dare I say lovable?), and allows us to live out the various natural violent impulses we all experience through the course of the day in a harmless manner. But in Return to Sleepaway Camp, the only reason you support the killer is because you quickly hate everybody in the movie. I mean, if I could have, I would have jumped into my television and and gone all Tempura chef on those kids because I hated them that much.
The funny thing, though, is that my hatred—which burned hotter and brighter than the death of a thousand suns—didn’t allow me to enjoy the deaths. It’s pretty much standard fare in horror movies to have one or two really annoying characters whose deaths you actually enjoy, but by ratcheting up the annoyance factor to eleven, Return to Sleepaway Camp makes it too much. The characters were excruciating to watch—partly because of bad acting, but mainly because they were completely reprehensible human beings.
Which brings me to the question, who the hell was the camp made for? Most of the campers appeared to be legally adults and I don’t know many teens who would actually want to go to camp—unless they were religious and it was bible camp, but that’s beside the point. I’m just about convinced that this camp served as some kind of “scared straight” social experiment for the most annoying, stupid, and downright mean kids in the county.
Honestly, if I could, I would record over every copy of this movie like Peter Griffin did with Citizen Kane and say “This person was the killer. There, I saved you one and a half boob-free hours.”
The movie was presented in Widescreen 1:78.1 aspect ratio with the Dolby Digital Stereo for sound. The transfer is fine, but you’ll wish it wasn’t because it means that you actually have to see and hear the people on the screen.
Behind the Scenes (28:22) – Not only does this featurette have the distinction of including acting even worse than was actually in the movie, but also half the time the sound quality was so bad that you couldn’t even hear the people.
Interviews – Don’t bother watching this. The interviews last between fifty-five seconds to three minutes and practically all of then sound like idiots:
Michael Gibney—”Alan” (2:33)
Ashley Carin—”Alex” (1:12)
Felissa Rose—”Angela/Sheriff Jerry” (1:54)
Paul De Angelo—”Ronnie” (1:14)
Jonathan Tiersten—”Ricky” (3:38)
Kate Simses—”Petey” (1:39)
Adam Wylie—”Weed” (3:05)
Jaime Radow—”Jenny” (2:32)
Jackie Tohn—”Linda” (00:51)
Michael Werner—”Michael” (1:02)
Paul Iacono—”Pee Pee” (1:25)
Samantha Hahn—”Marie” (1:39)
Chris Shaud—”TC”; Lucas Blondhelm—”Chooch”; Jake O’Connor—”Spaz” (3:04)
Photo Gallery (2:14)
“Return to Sleepaway Camp” Song (3:06) – This played during the credits and just thinking about it makes the hate swell in me.
A movie doesn’t have to be perfect for me to like it, but this one doesn’t even give me someone to root for. Obviously I exaggerated about my level of annoyance, but not as much as you might think. This movie was awful from start to end and should be considered a hate crime against all of humanity. Not recommended.
Magnolia Home Entertainment presents Return To Sleepaway Camp. Directed by Robert Hiltzick. Starring Vincent Pastore, Jackie Tohn, Isaac Hayes, Paul DeAngelo, and Jonathan Tiersten. Written by Robert Hiltzick. Running time: 98 minutes. Rated R. Released on DVD: November 4, 2008. Available at Amazon.