1983’s Sleepaway Camp, in case you’ve forgotten, featured a transgendered serial killer named Angela Baker who was raised as a girl by her nutcase of an aunt. Her circumstances led to a psychotic break and a wicked rampage that claimed the lives of, like, eight people. Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers finds an adult, post-op Angela working happily as a camp counselor. This chick is serious about camp. Roasting marshmallows, going on nature walks, singing dopy campfire songs (C-A-M-P-F-I-R-E S-O-N-G song!). Unfortunately, most of the campers are more interested in drinking, fucking, and doing drugs. This offends Angela’s puritanical sensibilities, and she begins “sending” people “home.” Not home to their parents, but, like, home to Jesus. Her continually shipping people back home without permission pisses off the camp director, who cans her ass, leading her to run wild like Hulkamania. She whacks everyone she can get her hands on save for this girl named Molly, who Angela likes because she’s a goody two shoes, and Molly’s little boyfriend, Sean: She holds them hostage in a cabin and eventually chops Sean’s head off. Molly escapes, but Angela follows. After a chaotic chase, Molly trips and smacks her head. Beleiving she is dead, Angela sadly leaves her and walks out, eventually getting a ride with a crude old lady in a truck. Molly wakes and stumbles to a dirt road, where she flags down a passing truck. Angela, wearing the old lady’s stupid little cowboy hat, pokes her head out and gives Molly a big Texas “Howdy!” Roll credits.
The first thing you have to know about Sleepaway Camp 2 is this: It’s not as serious as the first movie. Some might even call it “campy,” and not just because it’s set at a summer camp. There’s definitely an air of dark humor, but I wouldn’t say it’s “campy.” Then again, I have a hard time calling the Nightmare on Elm Street sequels “campy,” even though some of them totally are. Freddy Krueger was so much of a wiseguy in a few of those movies, he made Joe Pesci’s character from Goodfellas look like a fucking priest. Angela cracks wise a little too, but what really makes her for me is her unfailingly perky attitude. She’s always so upbeat. You can tell she’s doing what she loves. She’s never annoyingly perky, though, which is pretty impressive: There’s a very thin line between what kind of perky is acceptable and what kind of perky is not, and Angela manages to walk that line like a circus acrobat.
The actress who plays Angela (Pamela Springsteen, the Boss’s little sis) makes this movie. Like I think I’ve said before, a slasher movie (or any movie, for that matter) has to have one thing that sets it apart from everything else. Maybe a unique setting, or a highly original premise, or a cool villain. It can be hackeneyed everywhere else, but as long as it has that One Thing, it’ll pass. Pamela Springsteen in Sleepaway Camp 2’s One Thing.
Of course, that’s not to say there’s nothing else to SC2. There’s a pretty cool scene where Angela makes this stuck-up bitch crawl into the business end of an outhouse and literally drowns her in poop. She also throws battery acid in this dude’s face. That was pretty satisfying, because dude looked just like Joey from Full House, and I fucking hate Full House.
SC2’s strong suit, I think (aside from the tremendously talented Pam Springsteen) was it’s glossing over of Angela’s gender. After the first film, you’d expect it to be central to the story, but the movie skips over it and gets right to the campy fun. It is mentioned twice (once by Angela herself) that she “had an operation.” Move along. Nothing to see here. Hey, look at this set of tits instead!
Whether you’re of the opinion that the trans aspect was revolutionary or insulting, it’s nice to put away heady sociopolitical subjects and watch teenagers be gruesomely murdered. That’s something we can all enjoy.
After finishing this movie, I decided that Angela Baker was one of my favorite slasher villains. Behind Freddy, but ahead of Jason and Michael Myers. Why she didn’t appear in thirty movies like Jason’s dumb, silent ass, I’ll never know.
At least there’s part three…