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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Let the October Horror Festival Begin!

I was wondering to myself if Mark inspired me or not, but I was flirting with the idea of documenting this year's October Horror Festival just for no damn reason whatsoever in the hopes you'll be entertained.

Next to Christmas, Halloween is my favorite holiday and I try to celebrate by running horror movies throughout the month. I started this exercise 9 years ago and successfully played a horror movie every day that October except for one day. The busier I've gotten over the years, the slimmer the return figure has become. In an attempt to ground myself a little, I'm going to try and hit as many horror pieces as possible this month, then do a little writeup for fun, keeping you, my friends, in the loop of this rather dumb but personally fun exercise, and what a way to kick it off than the ludicrous but wonderfully idiotic Sleepaway Camp 2: Happy Campers.

In the midst of all of the Friday the 13th clones that sprouted up in the eighties, the most nefarious has to be the original Sleepaway Camp. Who could ever forget that dastardly dangling shock ending if you've seen it? What a way to compensate for a horribly low budget film that somehow got pulled off because it had a small degree of sensitivity amidst the silliness of the film.

Well, even sillier was its decidedly campy sequel and how in the world Pamela Springsteen agreed to take the role of Angela is beyond me, but golly, what a performance! Okay, so she can't sing worth squat, and her "I'm a Happy Camper" song is just painful beyond words, but I think deep down it was intended to be awful, considering Sleepaway Camp 2 does its damnedest to cultivate everything of the eighties horror genre from subtle to outright fun exploitation. If you're talking about the characters taking on names of popular teen actors of the eighties like Emilio, Charlie, Ally, Demi, Molly, Lea, Rob and so on, you can tell this film takes itself as seriously as the rowdy, over-the-top kill scenes in the film, underscored by crazy one-liners as Freddy Kruger became famous for by the third Nightmare on Elm Street.



There's a reason that a film this overtly dumb works like a charm, and it's not just because Valerie Hartman and Susan Marie Snyder flash themselves like Saturday night down in the blue light district; Sleepaway Camp 2 has a ton of humor and stupid charm and it's filmed rather well, honestly. Brian Patrick Clarke steals of the gag lines as head counselor T.C. and this is the reason you watch the film and leave your brain at the door. Yeah, the movie's pretty gory, and yeah, Pamela Springsteen plays the butch-hermaphrodite-holier-than-thou murderer with a twisted sense of ideology and morals, and yeah, that's Anvil with "Straight Between the Eyes" during the opening credits right after Pamela socks a camper in the face with a log then cuts her tongue out (note: I brought the fact that Anvil had a song in this film when talking to Lips and we had a good laugh since he's yet to see the film...no royalties paid, either) but the main reason Sleepaway Camp 2 is so appealing despite its awfulness is that you're laughing for all the right reasons.

I mean, come on, what's more hilarious than when a blindfolded camper sticks her hand into buckets full of "imaginary" gross things like "slimy gopher guts," Angela's bucket has "dead teenager's brains." When asked by another counselor what's really in there, she answers sheepishly "Dead Teenager's Brains." Love it.

Also of note is the fact that Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen's sister Renee plays the puritanical Molly who just happens to have the finest ass at camp.

Amazingly enough, there was a third official Sleepaway Camp movie, Teenage Wasteland that was filmed immediately after Unhappy Campers. That one, my friends, is just an utter turd. They used the same camp, filmed it instantly after the second movie, and it lacks the stupid charm of its predecessor. That one is pure sleaze and will not make the cut of this festival. I hear there's actually another Sleepaway Camp movie that was shot and stored away. There's also reports on the website of Return to Sleepaway Camp featuring one of the survivors of the original film, Ronnie. Just what you needed, right? I probably pushed your tolerance level here as it is....

6 comments:

OnMyWatch said...

As much as I love funny/stupid horror movies, I have not seen this one. May have to check it out one of these days.

Halloween is my favorite holiday.

fred charles said...

Love those old horror movies. My friend Henry and I used to rent bad horror movies like crazy in the 80s. We suffered through Blood Feast, Humongus, Microwave Massacre and Blood Sucking Freaks to name but a few. I think that Zombie movies were our favorite though. We would have a horror movie fest every Halloween that always included either Dawn of the Dead or Fulci's Zombie.

Great stuff. I look forward to reading more.

Let me know if you are going to Maiden. I can meet you for a beer.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Yeah, this movie is wrong on so many levels but it's so infectious for some reason. My wife and I watch it about twice a year and this was her request to kick off our October this year. Gotta love that in a lady...

Yeah, Fred, I was so hardcore for horror movies and I'm getting deeper into it again now that I'm reviewing the movies and conducting interviews in the genre besides music, and I've spent a little money getting some of those trash classics back like Zombie as you mentioned, I Spit On Your Grave, that kind of stuff. I'm really excited for this month since I get the promo movies to coincide with my collection...plus I never really gave up watching horror, just in lower doses because of other things going on...it's still my favorite film genre...what do you think of Land of the Dead, Fred?

Yes indeed I am going to Maiden, so drop me your cell at my snail mail and let's do it! I don't know Camden that well, but know Philly just a little from when I come up to do gigs now and then...

fred charles said...

I liked Land of the Dead. While I didn't think it was great, there was something about it that I thought was fun. Certainly a throwback to the hey day of horror movies where directors made the exact movie they wanted to make. I have a lot of respect for guys like Romero and John Carpenter. They still maintain that indie movie aesthetic.

Metal Mark said...

I tend to like older horror movies as in pre 1980's. I guess i also like more traditional monsters like vampires and werewolves more than slashers as well.
I did see Sleepaway Camp years ago and remember it being funny. Not even a week into the month and I have watched maybe five horror films this week.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

That's awesome, Mark! I kept falling asleep trying to watch White Zombie last night. My horror tastes spread across the board of the genre. I love the old classics, some of the 60s Hammer stuff and the eighties, even though much of it is obvious garbage. But there are gems in there too, as with every decade. You get the slop and the good stuff.

Yeah, good comment, Fred. Those two are true mavericks, directors with high recognition and respectability, but they still march to their own beats, so they're still in effect cult directors who have made crossover hits here and there. You have to love their integrity.