Director: Robert Hiltzik
Cast: Vincent Pastore, Jackie Tohn, Jonathan Tiersten, Paul Deangelo, Isaac Hayes
Magnolia Home Entertainment / NTSC R1 / Rated R / Widescreen 1.78:1 / ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital Stereo / 98 minutes
Disc Extras: Behind the Scenes / Interviews / Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery / “Return to Sleepaway Camp” Song Performed by Goat and Friends
[EDITOR'S NOTE: REVIEW CONTAINS SERIES SPOILERS!]
The Sleepaway Camp series is a required staple for slasher fans. Angela Baker, the transgender angel of death, is a killer to remember. Sleepaway Camp to this day owns the shock ending of all shock endings. Robert Hiltzik created an instant cult classic back in the day. So after two sequels directed by Michael A. Simpson later, Robert Hiltzik finally gets behind the camera once again to make Return to Sleepaway Camp. Keep in mind, almost three decades have passed since Hiltzik’s first film was released. A lot has changed since the ’80s, and Return to Sleepaway Camp faces a lot of hurdles to impress old and new fans. The results are very mixed.
Return to Sleepaway Camp feels like a sort of reunion, as a few of the actors from the original film make appearances. This serves as a hook for old fans. So the formula’s the same. Killer is killing kids at camp, but who’s doing the killing? Victim by victim, we get closer to the answer. Nothing new, but whatever. The real problem is the pitiful attempt at a red herring. It’s so very obvious straight from the beginning what’s going on and who is doing the killing. And the main character, a fat kid who’s very annoying and picked on by everybody, takes up much of the limelight. Is this annoying kid killing the kids, or is it Angela Baker, who has returned to finish the job she’s started? Oh man, is the whodunit element so poorly executed. I don’t want to say too much in order to avoid spoilers, but you’ll figure this one out pretty quickly.
I’m knocking on this movie pretty hard, but there’s a few positives here as well. The last fifteen minutes resurrect what would’ve been a totally wasted movie. The old actors from the previous films are fun to watch, though their performances show why they didn’t continue their acting careers after Sleepaway Camp. A few killings prove to be fun, though they’re tempered with several lame kills, thanks to cheap computer effects. If I’m being very honest, this is really a wasted opportunity. The old-school element is missing big time. Return to Sleepaway Camp is almost like a way to prove how great the first three were, and that’s about it. I’d give this one a rental for super fans who can’t resist, but otherwise, there’s nothing here to get too excited about. And don’t forget the post movie credit scene. A little added bonus that’s fun.
Magnolia Home Entertainment has given Return to Sleepaway Camp an average release. Once you’re done with the movie, the extras won’t tantalize you too much, but there’s enough here to escape no frills territory. The sound and film quality are up to par considering it’s an independent production. Ultimately, I’m rather disappointed with my return to Sleepaway Camp. I guess I won’t be going back next year.