2008 slasher sequel Return to Sleepaway Camp featured original star Felissa’s Rose return to the franchise, but the final product did poorly. Sadly, it’s not really that surprising that Return to Sleepaway Camp failed to wow horror fans. While 1983’s original Sleepaway Camp film tends to be well-remembered, it’s really not that great a movie. It’s got a certain sleazy 1980s slasher charm to it, but the main reason anyone remembers Sleepaway Camp is its admittedly very creative and surprising ending twist involving the identity of the killer.

That twist of course being that shy, quiet camper Angela (Felissa Rose) was in fact the killer the whole time, and not only that, she was actually born a boy, but was forced to live as a girl thanks to her crazy aunt after becoming an orphan. It’s an ending that most likely wouldn’t fly in today’s social climate, and for good reason, as it certainly lends itself to a potentially unfortunate implication about transgender and other non-binary people. Granted, the situation is certainly unique, as “Angela” was forced to change gender identity against her will.

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Gender politics aside, the ending is the primary reason Sleepaway Camp is still a movie horror fans are aware of, and with that twist used up, the sequels haven’t been good. Angela was recast for Sleepaway Camp 2 and 3, with little mention even being paid to the character’s gender issues, and both films were pretty terrible. With the original Angela back for Return to Sleepaway Camp, some fans hoped the franchise would improve, but it did not.

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Return To Sleepaway Camp Failed To Impress Critics

In what’s never a great sign for any film, Return to Sleepaway Camp actually finished production in 2003, but didn’t end up getting released until 2008. This was reportedly due to issues with the film’s CGI special effects, which director Robert Hiltzik – who also helmed the original Sleepaway Camp movie – found to be lacking, and demanded be redone. Considering that both the critical and fan response ended up being terrible overall, the special effects clearly weren’t the major problem present.

Reviews savaged Return to Sleepaway Camp, calling it boring, derivative, painfully unfunny, poorly written, and full of lame kills and unmemorable characters. Most critics even considered Return to Sleepaway Camp even worse than Sleepaway Camp 2 and 3, which had already earned low marks from just about everyone. While those films at least tried to change things up a bit, too much of Return to Sleepaway Camp seeks to coast on fans’ nostalgia for the first film, with seemingly no effort being put into being creative or surprising. With the original director and star back, Return to Sleepaway Camp could’ve been special, but it ended up being just another disappointment.

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