Return To Sleepaway Camp (2008)

Director: Robert Hiltzik

Starring: Paul DeAngelo, Vincent Pastore, Isaac Hayes, Michael Gibney

RANDY: “Are you really that stupid?”

ALAN: “Not as stupid as you, you big penis!”

Although the cult classic horror Sleepaway Camp has had a couple of sequels, neither were really seen as true spiritual successors since none of the original cast and crew were involved. With the first film’s director, writer and key cast members making a comeback for Return To Sleepaway Camp though, it could probably be considered the first ‘canon’ sequel to the original movie.

(Heads up – there are some spoilers for the original Sleepaway Camp below)

Isaac Hayes quit as Chef in South Park, then played a chef in this instead. D’oh

Taking place 25 years after Sleepaway Camp, Return is set in Camp Manabe, a new summer camp part-run by Ronnie, the head counselor in the original film’s Camp Arawak. Ronnie (played once again by Paul DeAngelo, who seemingly hasn’t learned any new acting tricks in the past two and a half decades) gets suspicious when kids at the camp start dying in gruesome ways, just like they did back at Camp Arawak.

Ronnie’s certain that Angela is to blame for the killings, even though her cousin Ricky (who is also played by the original actor, now in his mid-30s and more camp than Butlins) assures them that she’s still locked up in an asylum and has been since her rather awkward public display of nudity.

This police guy looks and sounds a bit weird. Wonder why…

This makes the prime suspect Alan – a big fat simple lad who’s constantly bullied by the other campers. Throughout the film this gets to Alan and he snaps on a regular basis, often screaming at his bullies and sometimes even pointing a knife at them. But is Alan upset enough to actually kill anyone? That’d be telling.

Much like the original, everything in Return To Sleepaway Camp is pleasantly bad. The acting remains as abysmal as ever, the dramatic music blares over scenes of standard dialogue for no reason at all, the script is atrocious (check the example above to see what I mean) and while the inevitable “twist” ending was clearly never going to match the original in terms of shock value, it should still please some fans of the first film.

This was the worst telescope Duncan had ever used

A slasher film generally lives and dies by the inventiveness of its death scenes, and Return To Sleepaway Camp makes a decent attempt at it. Whether it’s the wince-inducing scene involving a length of wire tied to both the manhood of a poor chap tied to a tree and a truck set to drive off, or the will-they-won’t-they moment where two kids keep looking through a hole in the ground where they can see a sharpened a broom handle lying under their cabin, the kill scenes are fun enough to keep you watching even if they’re not amazingly well-executed (pun very much intended).

Return To Sleepaway Camp isn’t trying to be the greatest film ever made, it’s a fun and sometimes tongue-in-cheek love letter to fans of the first film who continue to keep its legend alive. For this reason I’d recommend watching the original first, and only giving this a shot if you decide you want more of the same.

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