It's summer camp as usual at Camp Manabe where the kids torment each other for fun while the underpaid camp staff provides as little supervision as possible. Greedy camp owner Frank and junior partner Ronnie do their best to keep everyone in line, but something sinister is about to put a slash in the roster. When campers and staff mysteriously begin disappearing and turning into gruesome corpses, paranoid Ronnie can't shake the memory of a series of grisly murders that took place at Camp Arawak, where he worked two decades earlier.
After enduring years of tongue-in-cheek sequels, fans of the absurd 1983 slasher film Sleepaway Camp get the follow-up they've been waiting for in Return to Sleepaway Camp, which features original director Robert Hitzig once again orchestrating the blood-soaked shenanigans. Little seems to have changed at good ol' Camp Manabe in the 25 years since the slaughter of the first Sleepaway Camp: the kids are still foul-mouthed little monsters, the counselors still nitwits (and with Vincent Pastore--Big Pussy from The Sopranos--in charge, who can blame them?), and of course, there's still a killer on the loose who's brutally dispatching campers and staff alike. In short, it's business as usual for the Sleepaway Camp series, which is good news for those who found the 1983 film a gory, lowbrow guilty pleasure. Others who might've found it one of the more atrocious entries in the '80s slasher scene--or one of the weirdest, based on its infamous gender-bending conclusion--won't be swayed by the Return, which offers a heaping second helping of the original's moronic dialogue, loathsome characters and subtle-as-a-brick suspense. The low-wattage star power on hand--Isaac Hayes in one of his final roles as the camp chef and Felissa Rose, the killer from the first Sleepaway--aren't onscreen enough to generate much excitement, so what's left is a goofball exercise in gore that's probably best enjoyed by those whose love for the original film transcends all limitations. The DVD includes interviews with the new batch of campers-turned-corpses, a behind-the-scenes tour guided by Rose and producer Jeff Hayes, and a disposable music video for the theme song by Goat and Company. -- Paul Gaita
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