When I was a budding young horror fan, SLEEPAWAY CAMP was one of my absolute favorite “slasher” films. It featured vile, profane kids – all played by actual kids! Bullying. Good, creative kills. Humor. And an unforgettable ending that left a generation of horror fans sexually confused! So I was equally excited when both SLEEPAWAY CAMP 2 and 3 hit the video store shelves as direct-to-video titles. The tone was a bit different and we had a new Angela in Pamela Springsteen, but the kills were aplenty and the general vibe was what you’d come to expect from a SLEEPAWAY CAMP movie.
Back when they first came out in the late ’80s, I loved them for their humor and the fact that Angela served as an over-reacting moral compass for the kids’ and counselors’ behavior. Pretty much if you did something naughty, Angela would murder you in some horrible, yet creative way. It was, in a strange way, darkly funny and I recall always loving it for that.
I had friends over last week and they requested we make SLEEPAWAY CAMP II our movie of the night – and something weird happened. I watched it with a completely new set of eyes. I watched it from the perspective of both the kids and the counselors. And whereas originally I found Angela to be hilarious and somewhat just in punishing those that she considered “evil,” I watched it this time thinking… well, Angela’s kind of a bitch.
I mean, she’s really a pain in the ass and no one is doing anything outside of the traditional moral code of the average teenager. Do they all really deserve a terrible fate at the hands of the “Angel Of Death?!” OK, let’s do the play-by-play and decide.
In the opening of the sequel, a group of the boys and male counselors from the camp are gathered around a fire telling scary stories, as can be expected in this scenario. The lone girl of the group is Phoebe, who gets interrupted by Angela as she’s telling the story of Peter Baker (aka Angela Baker). As they walk back to camp, Angela scolds Phoebe for sneaking off to be with the boys and for telling that awful story. Then she calls her a “slut.” Bit uncalled for! When Phoebe tells her to screw off, Angela bops her over the head with a log and cuts her tongue out. So yeah, Angela might be a bit impulsive when it comes to talk back.
Next up, she yells at the girls in their cabin for sleeping and walking around naked. Ally doesn’t feel comfortable unless she sleeps in the nude! Totally valid excuse! “You don’t have to show them off, Ally,” is Angela’s rationale. Later this leads to the boys orchestrating a panty raid, which of course Angela walks in on and is furious about. In turn, the girls get their revenge by going for a jock strap raid. Again, Angela is fuming. Look – they’re young kids away at camp! Hormones are raging! And it gets boring. What else are they going to do, sing the happy camper song all night? It’d be like if one of the girls at the Pi Delta Pi sorority in REVENGE OF THE NERDS turned out to be a serial killer and went and murdered all the Tri-Lambs mid-movie!
Then there are the twin girls that like to sneak off, smoke pot and drink while making out with the same guy. What happens to them for being adventurous, sharing and caring siblings? They get barbecued!
There are also those 2 kids (who can’t be more than 12 years old) that run around taking advantage of the fact that the girls sleep nude and take photos of them. They’re prepubescent, horny kids! Angela considers their acts “pornography” and hence, they have to go!
And then there’s poor Ally. Poor, poor Ally. I can’t believe I’m saying this, because as a young teen, Ally always struck me as the snobby “slut” of the bunch; always trying to show off, walking around naked and putting down the other girls – especially the lead, Molly. But watching it this time, I actually felt bad for Ally. There’s some deep, dark shit going on beneath the surface when it comes to Ally. Is she really a “slut?” She only sleeps with the one guy that’s been chasing her the whole movie, and that’s after it seems Sean, the boy she really likes, isn’t going to go for her.
The only thing she’s really guilty of is, maybe, insensitivity for abruptly asking after sex, “you don’t have AIDS or anything, do you?” When she snaps at Molly, I see a very insecure, confused girl. And Angela dunks her in a used toilet filled with feces and leeches! What originally was my favorite kill in the sequel somehow turned into just being plain old mean!
Also have to point out – after Angela’s murder spree of pretty much the entire camp, she hitchhikes with this woman in a cowboy hat. Sadly for her, she pulls out a pack of smokes and, at this point, Angela will use any excuse to kill someone, so why not second hand smoking? But that woman is actress Jill Jane Clements, who just appeared on THE WALKING DEAD episode “The Same Boat” a few weeks back with Alicia Witt, and ironically enough, her name was Molly (same as lead Renee Estevez’s character in SLEEPAWAY CAMP II) and she was still smoking! Didn’t she learn her lesson from Angela Baker?!
Anyways, I still had a blast with SLEEPAWAY CAMP II and look forward to revisiting SLEEPAWAY CAMP III; if anything, to hold Angela’s moral criteria up to tougher scrutiny. But maybe, just maybe… she’s in the wrong here? We might have to delve into the FRIDAY THE 13TH series and see if those kids really deserved their fates at the hands of a Voorhees!