Being an avid Horror fan and a follower of the Camel Clutch blog, it only seemed appropriate to begin writing for my long time friend Eric Gargiulo. I believe in the creation and not the “re-imagining” film making trend that is so popular in Hollywood today, I tend to lean more on to the classics of the genre. I want everyone to enjoy the review and remember this review is just my opinion, go out and support the Horror genre regardless.
I live for the Underground movement and appreciate the campy fun that Horror movies can produce, so without further delay, let’s get to the review.
Back in 1983, a little slasher film rose from the rubble of many Camp Killer cookie cutter films on the heels of the successful Friday The 13th title that spawned numerous spin offs. Standing out on it’s own was Sleepaway Camp.
[adinserter block=”1″]The premise was simple and still works today in horror films. Show what happens to the mean kids and the sex driven staff who pick on the different kid, who usually happens to be the killer. Sleepaway Camp was fun, had terrible young actors, had some great gore and has grown an enormous cult following not found by many films today. Looking back at this film, what works in the original doesn’t always transfer so well twenty five years later.
Let’s fast forward to 2008 (this was actually shot in 2003 and was delayed repeatedly) and we finally get the long awaited fourth installment “Return to Sleepaway Camp” with the tag-line – Kids can be so mean! Written by original creator Robert Hiltzik, this was a no brainer for me in recent purchases because, like you, I am hoping for the similar eighties campyness plus an overall good time. For Sleepaway fans, this is the part two that we never really got since Hiltzik was not involved with the second and third parts.
Once I press play on the dvd player I can see right away that very small changes have been made surrounding Camp Arawak, yet it is mostly the same. Now known as a much trendier sounding Camp Manabe, the kids are still mean and the staff still wants sex, in twenty five years…nothing has changed.
Credit the casting director as the new Camp staff has a few great names including Vincent Pastore most known as “Big Pussy” from the Sopranos and the late Isaac Hayes who will forever be known as the “Chef” on South Park who is simply playing a real life version of “Chef”.
In a nice addition, Returning Sleepaway Camp alumni Ronnie (Paul DeAngelo) and Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten) both reprise their roles but still can’t shake off the violence from 25 years ago and are still waiting for Angela to return.
Confusing from the beginning, the story lacks heart, the campyness and characters that I care about. Alan (Michael Gibney) is the troubled outcast teenager in this film, he is portrayed as both a bully and a wimp, which I found a little odd. Constantly picked on, he was extremely annoying on his own and I probably would have picked on him too.
Alan is over weight, rude and has the best comeback line in any film – “Your ass stinks!!”. As the film continues you see that Alan is really the target but, it’s hard to feel for him. Once the killings begin, the story is blatantly obvious and doesn’t unfold much from there. The local Sheriff makes his presence known by appearing odd on screen, poor make up and terrible acting don’t help this matter. Without much detail, it just comes across as a poorly executed premise.
The body count rises and non original kill scenes are shown, sadly for the time we have waited, the pay off is just blah. If you have seen in the original and you are waiting for some amazing twist, forget it. The twist can be seen almost from the beginning and the only thing that really dies, is your desire to re-watch this movie a second time. The acting is just awful (yes, still 25 years later) and bringing back some of the original cast is fun, but they just fail in creating a need for them to be there. Bad acting and low budget horror go together for the most part, but come on, can’t they find some that are decent.
[adinserter block=”2″]For as long as it has taken for this to finally arrive on dvd, Return to Sleepaway Camp just doesn’t deliver the campyness, the dark twisted humor or the charm the original had. The characters aren’t likable, the gore is simple and is really a sad attempt of rekindling the flicker that I was expecting.
The extras on the dvd are run of the mill behind the scenes, interviews and some photos. For more on the Sleepaway Camp films, make sure to visit www.sleepawaycampmovies.com and if you haven’t seen the first one yet, do yourself a favor and check it out.
Check out the trailer for Return to Sleepaway Camp
Order Return to Sleepaway Camp on DVD by clicking here.
Order the original Sleepaway Camp on DVD by clicking here.
Rob Dimension has spent his life watching and enjoying Horror films of all types. From Cult classics, to the Underground, Foreign releases to the most Campy. Dimension will, hopefully , provide you with some potential watching suggestions and keep you away from the “not worth a watch” films. Rob Dimension can be found many weekends along side some of today’s upcoming stars and yesterday’s legends in the world of Professional Wrestling. He can be found at www.facebook.com/dimensioncollectibles , become his friend and tell him what you think.