People seemed to shit on this movie a lot when it first came out so I put off seeing it for a few years. It wasn't until I saw Robert Hiltzik's original again recently that I decided to give this one a shot since the guy behind the Camp Arawak massacre was crawling out from under his rock after 25 years and giving fans HIS own intended sequel. Was it worth the wait? Eh, I liked it.
If there's one thing the original had pegged, it was the scornful summer camp atmosphere. The campers getting killed was secondary to those vicious little bastards that populated those grounds and that's what, I believe, most people remember about the movie (aside from the malignant tranny ending). "Return to Sleepaway Camp" brings back that over-the-top 'summer camp from Hell' setting full force! After the ultra-modern looking opening credits illustrating the history of Camp Arawak, via news paper clippings and CGI blood-drippings, one of the best characters in the past decade of slashers is introduced. Allen - the fattest, most filthy, obnoxious piece of pathetic, alienated loser shit that has ever been captured on celluloid! He looks kinda like a shaved ape with Down Syndrome and a girly voice. He first appears as the camp bully, but it soon becomes evident that he is the most hated kid at Camp Manabe. However often he picks on the littlest kids around, everyone else (including the chicks) kicks his ass TWICE as hard and make him the pawn in their cruel jokes. He often retreats to a spot in the woods, heavily inhabited with frogs whom he refers to as his "friends". Vincent Pastore (of The Sopranos) plays the bird loving head counselor along with Paul DeAngelo (Ronnie), Jonathan Tiersten (Ricky) and Felissa Rose (Angela) from the original film. Isaac Hayes also pops up shortly as the chef. Go figure.
Of course, campers and counselors start getting iced by a black hooded assailant who is suppose to be a mystery... We're led to believe it's Allen. It couldn't POSSIBLY be Angela. Nah. She's locked away... It'd be a shame for me to spoil the ending so I won't, but I WILL say that the "twist" ending needed some tweaking in the early writing stages. Even if you'd never seen or heard of the original "Sleepaway Camp", the "surprise" ending here is painfully obvious within the first 5-10 minutes because of a certain, cartoonish looking character. 'Nuff said on that.
Overall, "Return to Sleepaway Camp" had me grinning from beginning to end. If you thought Camp Arawak was bad - Camp Manabe is a total fucking nightmare! Who would stay at this place? That's where the real entertainment is at. The body count (like the original) takes a moderate backseat to the horribly, horribly EVIL little shits that make up this camp. Still, there IS a nice amount of dead kids and creative methods of murder - such as, gasoline poured down a guy's throat before a joint is propped in his mouth and lit, a sharpened broomstick through the eye, a penis noose made of wire, death by bunk bed and a great bit of vermin torture in which rats eat their way from a guy's face to his stomach...
However, like I said, the script could've used a little work in creating a more satisfying (and less obvious) conclusion, but as it stands, I have few complaints. The flick isn't a masterpiece (nor was the first one), yet it works as a more than worthy direct follow-up to Hiltznik's 1983 slasher favorite.