It’s been a while since any official updates trickled out about RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP, the slaughter sequel that wrapped principal photography a couple of years back and marks writer/director Robert Hiltzik’s return to the franchise he created with the 1982 original CAMP. But now, Fango has just gotten a peek behind the scenes of a series of reshoots designed to boost RETURN’s gore content. Providing a series of new blood gags are makeup FX artists Peter Gerner and Brian Spears, whose credits include SHADOW: DEAD RIOT, MIDNIGHT MASS and the soon-to-be-released NIGHTMARE.
“We’ve done a shot where a stake goes through somebody’s eyeball and comes out the back of his head,” Spears tells Fango. “There’s a shot where rats are eating out the inside of a torso, and today Pete and I are working on a skinned victim. I remember watching SLEEPAWAY CAMP and being terrified when I was a kid, and freaked out by the twist ending. It’s had a lasting impact, and since I’ve told a few people who are huge fans of it that I’ve been working on this project, they’re very psyched that it’s coming out. It’s an honor to be called in on a movie like this, which has the potential to be another cult favorite.”
Spears and Gerner’s new prosthetic gags will be interpolated into the previously shot footage by a computer FX team headed by Jerome Thelia. “It’s a combination of heavy-duty practical makeup and digital augmentation, shot on HD and up-res’d to 2K to finish on film,” says RETURN producer Thomas van Dell, who appeared in the original CAMP as an actor. “We took a look at the effects we had completed during the production, and there was no way, in our opinion, that they could do justice to the storyline and what the fans have been awaiting for so long. And rather than make do with what we had, we decided to scrap it—and took a serious financial hit, needless to say, because we had spent a significant amount of money on the special effects up to that point—and just go back and redo every single one of those sequences.”
“There are 14 scenes containing roughly 78 shots that we’re doing,” Thelia says, “and we’re really just getting going on that now. It’s a big task; there are four to six compositors plus myself working full-time.” The FX artist reveals one of the more spectacular gags he and his team will create: “There’s a scene in which one of the characters basically explodes; his eyes come popping out of his head, and his whole body is consumed in flames.”
“Innards flying everywhere, all that good stuff,” van Dell chimes in.
“The whole approach,” Thelia contines, “has been to combine digital effects with practical effects, so none of what you see on the screen is ever purely CG or ever purely physical; it’s always some combination of both. But starting off with really good practicals is the best way to go, and that’s where Brian and Pete are helping us out so much. You’re gonna see people get killed in every way imaginable, and probably not imaginable [laughs]—you’re gonna see things where you’ll say, ‘That’s not a way I would want to die.’ Everybody kind of put on their thinking caps and put their two cents in, and it’s gonna be pretty gross. I dare anybody to keep watching the screen for the whole of it.”
As for when fans will finally be able to watch RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP, van Dell says, “We’re going to be done this summer, and we’re trying to see if somebody can slot it in for a rush release in the fall. We’d love to see it come out at Halloween.” Look for more coverage of the splattery sequel in a future issue of Fango.