In the s, ANY slasher film, no matter how good or how bad, was subject to be followed up with a sequel. Or two. Or three. Or nine. It's not really surprising, then, that SLEEPAWAY CAMP, a film set apart from the flock of other camp slashers by its weird subject matter and legendary ending, was graced with a sequel. What is surprising is that it took six years for that sequel, SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS to be made.
While still set at a summer camp where kids are dying in gruesome and unique ways, SLEEPAWAY CAMP II is certainly a bit of a departure from the overall feel of the first film. Whereas the first SLEEPAWAY CAMP film was quite psychological, full of bizarre subtext and employing numerous red-herrings and false leads to the killer's identity, UNHAPPY CAMPERS drops all of that and goes straight for the cheapest thrills it can find to exploit. There's no hidden identities here. Instead, the producers of UNHAPPY CAMPERS throw the killer's identity right out in the open within the first five minutes of the film, not only lessening the suspense of this film, but also spoiling the ending of the first SLEEPAWAY CAMP for anyone who has never seen it.
The purpose of doing this, of course, was to turn the character of Angela into some sort of franchise killer in the same vein as Freddy from the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET movies and Jason from the FRIDAY THE TH SERIES; a fact gleefully acknowledged by the film's advertising materials, which include a picture of a camper hiking through the woods with a chainsaw, a hockey mask, and a razor-fingered glove, and bearing the words, 'When you go camping, bring the essentials.' Did it work? Well, yes and no. Certainly, Angela has never reached the popularity heights attained by the likes of Freddy and Jason, but she has managed to etch herself a tiny niche among a small-but-devoted community of SLEEPAWAY CAMP fans, and this film does deserve some of the credit for that fact.
Though having little in common with the original film, at least in tone, UNHAPPY CAMPERS has a LOT in common with the late s slasher genre as a whole. It's cheap, campy, and filled with gratuitous blood and nudity. And, in all fairness, these elements actually do work for the film, and make it sort of an s trash classic. The death scenes, the dialogue, even the basic plot, are all extremely ridiculous, but their outrageousness is what seems to give them their appeal. You can't help but find yourself laughing along with the film as Angela happily dispatches one stupid teen after another.
That said, there's really not much else in UNHAPPY CAMPERS worth mentioning. It does nothing, really, to further the character of Angela, other than solidify her place as a goofy second-string slasher icon. Fans of cheeseball horror will not be disappointed, but those looking for something with ANY amount of substance should definitely look elsewhere.
You're not likely to be scared by SLEEPAWAY CAMP II, but if you're a fan of cheap, corny slasher flicks, you'll probably still enjoy it. What scares and suspense the original film had are all gone, but this sequel does offer a giant helping of sex and violence to fill the vacancies. It's certainly not highbrow horror entertainment, but still amusing, nonetheless.