Return to Sleepaway Camp (2008)
RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP
WRITER: Robert Hiltzik
DIRECTOR: Robert Hiltzik
STARRING: Vincent Pastore as Frank
Jackie Tohn as Linda
Jonathan Tiersten as Ricky
Paul DeAngelo as Ronnie
Isaac Hayes as Charlie the Chef
Michael Gibney as Alan
QUICK CUT: Another camp, another summer, another fun time in the woods gets ruined.
Alan - A troubled young kid who had rheumatic fever, is milking that for all its worth, but is also the target of bullying, because he’s smelly, rude, a bit of an oaf, and he just wants to belong and have friends.
Frank - The owner of the newest camp in the series, and he’s a bit of a jerk, but in the right kind of way, to be a figure of authority. He also loves his birds.
Ronnie - Back for more after the original movie, he’s a junior partner in this new camp, and sure there is something more going on.
Karen - The girl Alan has a crush on, who doesn’t want much to do with him, but she also doesn’t like all the bullying. Usually.
Sheriff Jerry - A cop that comes by to give a speech on smoking, but sticks around when things start going horribly wrong.
TRISK ANALYSIS: Welcome back, Triskelions! Summer is here, and I got my hands on Return to Sleepaway Camp, so it's time to...uh, Return to Sleepaway Camp! Now, this franchise is...a bit of a mess, after the first three. This movie came out NEXT, but was made later than Sleepaway Camp 4, which was MOSTLY made in the 90s, but not finished and released until the 2010s.
And the numbering, as you can tell, also a mess. I decided to go with Return because, uh...it was the one I could find. If ANYONE out there has a copy of 4 they would be willing to part with, let me know, and I can wrap up this franchise right!
But enough of my rambling, let's just get into this, and head to Camp Manabe, which might as well be Camp Arawak, with the serial numbers filed off.
We meet some of the kids, up to the usual antics as seen above, and the only one worthy of note is Alan. He's big, he's a slob, he's constantly made fun of. He's our big red herring, and the brunt of like, 90% of the abuse in the movie. If he wasn't such a shit, I'd feel more sorry for him. And I STILL manage to have a lot of sympathy.
One of the counselors barges in after he starts a fire with some bug spray, and gets WAY too hands on, tossing the kid around, and I am pretty sure that's not legal.
The owner of the camp, Vincent "How did they get me for this movie" Pastore, introduces a cop to talk about the dangers of smoking and oh, oh I dearly hope this is not going to be as obvious as I think it is.
Alan is upset by the crappy camping cuisine, but Paul Sheldon grabs him, shoves his face in the chicken patty and tells him to eat it, eat it til he chokes.
He gets in more and more trouble, and heads to the kitchen to try and get some real food, and ha ha, welcome to camp, kid. There IS no real food here.
Unsurprisingly, Alan gets hit with more abuse, as one of the cooks is an utter bastard to him, won't let him have some good food, and verbally berates him. If Alan WAS the killer, I would not blame him for snapping. And we're just getting started.
Alan runs off to his secret spot, with all his froggy friends, the only friends he has, really. His step brother Mike tries to take him back to camp, and they play with knives a bit.
I've said it before, and it still applies, this series still has some of the best portrayals of what utter bastards kids can be at their worst. This movie gets a bit TOO heavy handed with it, but it's still pretty close.
Anyways, back in the kitchen, Mickey is making some fries, when someone comes along, grabs his legs, and holds him over the fryulator, until his hands slip and he goes head first into the oil.
It's a great first kill, and a very good homage to the opening kill from the original movie where the chef got dumped into that giant pot.
The abuse continues, and I'm already saying that a lot, as Alan badly flirts with the girl he has a crush on, and who wavers between feeling sorry for him, and wanting to be mean to him. Also, the local potheads roll up some cow manure and make him smoke it. So yeah, things are going great for Alan.
Oh, they also give Alan the nickname "Blowjob". Sigh. I want everyone in this movie to die slow, agonising deaths. And at least I get some of my wish granted.
The kids get sent to their bunks, and Weed, well, he smokes more weed, because that's what Weed does. Even if he tosses some matches towards the gas cans. Drugs're bad, mmkay?
Which is foreshadowing for all of 30 seconds, as our killer sneaks up on the stoned Weed, ties him up, makes him chug some of the gasoline, and lights him up. I see we are operating in the ironic punishments division this movie.
I also think this is another nice homage, although probably unintentional, to one of the other movies where Angela 2.0 burnt up a girl.
Well, I guess the kids should have listened to Sheriff Jerry; smoking IS bad for your health!
Also, Ronnie, who was in the first movie, finally brings up Angela, and fears that Angela is back. But he brings that up every time every little thing goes wrong, so he's being very Chicken Little.
Urgh, there's also a lot of transphobia and deadnaming in this movie that is VERY uncomfortable, as some people insist on referring to Angela as "he" and "Peter". It's disgusting.
The next day, the kids are doing normal camp things, until Alan interrupts the girls playing croquet, so he can force Karen to go to his secret frogspot with him. She eventually agrees, and he heads off to play paintball.
...And night immediately falls between cuts. Night comes down hard in this part of New York, I guess.
It suddenly becomes day again, as the sun and moon fly off their orbits, defying all natural laws of time and space, and I am sure no one will be surprised that every paintballer gangs up on Alan to pellet him to death.
Meanwhile, Sheriff Jerry heads off to find Ricky, the original Ricky even!, and I guess maybe this isn't Angela in disguise, because Ricky sure doesn't seem to see through the disguise.
In possibly the biggest surprise twist, the girls actually come to hang out with Alan, and it could almost be a genuinely sweet moment as they get to see the real Alan, the person behind the jokes...but instead they find skinned frogs and think he did it, and he's a sick sick boy.
That night, the kids plot EVEN MORE ABUSE to heap upon Alan, and Karen is actually finally, at last, starting to feel bad about all this. However, then there's a line that absolutely pisses me off.
"He likes it when we make fun of him!" Hnnnngh.
But despite her misgivings, Karen invites Alan to go behind the stage to play spin the bottle with her and some other girls and GEE I BET THIS IS TOTALLY LEGIT.
Petey helps out Alan, as she's done throughout the movie, and at least someone in this movie is a decent human being.
But while she gets Alan to his bunk, Ronnie puts 2 and 2 together, getting 13, when he makes the massive leap of logic that a girl named Petey must REALLY be Peter/Angela. The biggest flaw in this is that she looks 20.
You know what this movie needs now? MORE abuse hurled towards Alan! Because a bunch of kids hide in the darkness, chanting "Blowjob, blowjob, blowjob," around Alan's cabin.
Frank shows up to yell at Alan, who finally snaps and runs off into the woods. But not until the camp owner smacks him around a bit and treats him like the problem. Urgh.
Which naturally leads to the killer showing up and murdering Frank, by modifying his bird's cage so it can be snapped around Frank's head, and pouring in a bucket of rats. Mmm, classic medieval torture.
Meanwhile, counselor Randy lives up to his name by taking Linda out to the pump station to make out with her in privacy without any kids interfering. Too bad there's a killer on the loose.
The killer grabs Randy when he's alone, ties him to a tree, and ties some fishing line around his dick. Fishing line that is tied to the jeep, which Linda jumps into and drives off when she gets spooked.
Um, this is a uh...overly elaborate plan? What if she didn't drive off? What if she didn't wander off in the first place? Plus, unless it's a straight run, that line is bound to snag...
It's also a good thing she drove far enough away to rip it off, because she just so happened to get her head wrapped up in barbed wire along the way, and crash the jeep.
Back at the camp, one of the kids is enjoying being grounded, when a large pike shoots up through the floor, skewering his magazine. AND THE FOOL LOOKS DOWN THE HOLE. WHY WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT??
My warnings are indeed prophetic, as the makeshift spear does indeed come shooting up the hole into TC's face.
Ronnie finds Frank's body, and he knows it has begun again, and yeah, way to catch up with the rest of the plot, dude.
Meanwhile, Bella comes back, lays down in her bunk, only to have the killer pounce down and embed her with a lot of spikes pounded into the upper bunk. This killer loves their elaborate plans, yes?
The girls find Bella sleeping on the wrong side of her bed of nails, and Karen has a HILARIOUS freakout.
So everyone gathers around with 10 minutes left to the movie, sure it's Alan, and they gather to gang up on the poor kid. Officer Jerry tries to convince them not to go off half cocked, but hey, mob justice.
And just to make it a full party, Ricky shows up thinking the cop called him down. So yeah, the gang is all here.
I do give major credit to Ricky, who has stuck by Angela all these years, saying he's sticking around to prove everyone wrong. And look, spoiler, but it’s Ricky who gets proven wrong.
Anyways, Karen gets grabbed by the killer, hooked up to a winch, and slowly hung out to dry in the gym. What a way to go.
Fortunately, Michael shows up just in time to chase off the killer, and Officer Jerry runs in to lower the rope.
We finally catch back up with Alan, who's been hiding out at his froglog, with Michael showing up with a croquet mallet to bash his brother's face in. Bash it right the fuck in!
Michael WAILS on the kid with the mallet, until he too is knocked out and dragged off into the woods.
Everyone else arrives, finds the poor beaten Alan, and eventually finds a skinned alive Michael. Officer Jerry is there too, talking about how kids can be so mean and *SIGHS HEAVILY* Yes, it is indeed a heavily disguised Angela, revealed as she picks apart her makeup.
Aaand that's where it ends. Leaving me with questions, and wanting more.
Such a waste of Angela, even though she WAS there throughout the movie. It still feels like too little of a good thing.
Oh, and they do staple in a bonus scene after the credits so we can see how Angela killed a cop and stole his identity.
Video: Good enough, no complaints!
Audio: Just as fine as the video.
Sound Bite: "You're hurtin' my fuckin' peckah!" Spot on Bahstin accent, pal.
Body Count: I am disappointed in this. So many more people deserved ignoble ends.
1 - 16 minutes in and the Mickey gets fried.
2 - Weed gets exploded
3 - Frank gets nibbled to death by rats.
4 - Randy loses his head
5 - Linda gets caught up in barbed wire.
6 - TC gets spiked in the face because he's dumb.
7 - Bella gets spiked.
8 - Angela skins Michael
Best Corpse: Look, they gave me a skinned corpse, how do I not give this to Michael?
Peak Corpse: There’s a lot of suspicions, but nothing really becomes obvious until after they find Frank.
Blood Type - B+: The effects in this are solid, and there is plenty of blood. And while I mock it, the makeup on Angela IS good. I genuinely wasn’t sure, the first time through, if it was really her, or an actor that would be revealed to be her, or what.
Sex Appeal: Huh, nothing I can recall.
Drink Up! every time they abuse Alan.
Video Nasties: I was very amused by Karen’s freak out…
Movie Review: I know one of these movies, this or the other fourth, get a lot of crap, and I’m not sure which it is, but I mostly liked this one. It DOES get a bit uncomfortable to watch, which is good for the content, but also a thing. My biggest complaint is that Felissa doesn’t really ‘show up’ until the final seconds of the movie. But it’s got a solid plot, a bit of mystery, and some fun kills. I just feel like it ended where I really wanted the movie to do more. The acting could’ve been a little better, but, nothing TOO bad. Three out of five fake noses.
Entertainment Value: The deaths are the easy highlight. As over the top and unbelievable as they are, they’re fun, and entertaining. Otherwise, I think the other movies were better in this regard. There’s nothing terribly WRONG with this movie, but it is just kinda there. Two out of five ice cream sandwiches.