SLEEPAWAY CAMP IV: THE SURVIVOR
Director: Jim Markovic
Year of release: 2012
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 70 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: DVD only
Tagline: "Twenty years ago the terror began, now you must prepare yourself for the most shocking chapter of them all".
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: I'd been putting off watching this for some time as I was well aware it was mainly just a clipshow from films 1-3 and as such I didn't think it would be something I would enjoy. As a fan of the series though I felt as if I should at some point check it out and I finally got around to doing so. Needless to say it was as bad as I had feared. For those unaware production and shooting for the fourth installment of the series began in 1992 but after quickly going bankrupt the company abandoned the project long before it was completed with what is said to be around 34 minutes of footage filmed. Some of this footage was released a decade later on the Sleepaway Camp trilogy box set or rather the Best Buy version of said set. Another decade later in 2012 some bright spark thought it would be a good idea to use this footage seen in the box set and splice it together with a plethora of clips from the first 3 films to try and tell some sort of story. An incredibly feeble story as it turns out. For what it's worth I'll detail this entire story here seeing that it is so short so spoilers are ahead.
By an opening text scroll we learn that a woman named Allison is plagued by bad dreams and suffers from amnesia which completely clouds her memories of her former life. Her psychiatrist comes to suspect that the source of these issues could stem from Allison possibly being a survivor of the Sleepaway Camp massacres perpetrated by Angela Baker. Allison is encouraged by the shrink to visit the site of these murders in the hope that it will bring about the return of her memories and possibly some sort of closure. We see Allison sitting around by the lake musing about past events in relation to Angela's exploits which is where the clips come in which are supposedly representing Allison's memories coming back to her. She then meets up with a Park Ranger the psychologist mentioned but things turn sour when the man tries to get physical with Allison prompting her to run away with the Ranger in pursuit. Fleeing through the woodland the chase comes to an end when she is found by a Hunter who just happens to be in the area. Almost immediately after what we first took for a rescue some more memories resurface which result in Allison killing the Hunter and later the Park Ranger as well. It seems Allison was perhaps Angela all along.
Good points: It is very difficult to pick out any positives from this but I suppose it could be something very hardcore Sleepaway Camp fans may want to watch occasionally just to see a mash up of all the best kills and memorable moments from the series. I don't think it would make sense though as a stand alone film so you would have to be a fan to get anything out of it though perhaps fanatics could find some pleasure if just treating it as a clipshow of favourite moments. There are a couple of things that are slightly different as well with the discussion of the legend of Angela around the campfire from part 2 now being mixed in with clips of the deeds being described which works quite well. Also while asleep in bed the dream Angela is having (again from part 2 I think) is this time about the boating accident which happened while she was younger. Arguably these reworkings are actually better than what we originally had in the 2nd film.
With the Best Buy trilogy pack being so rare for hardcore fans who don't have that this would be the only way to get hold of the small amount of unreleased footage so for completists it would be a worthwhile addition to a collection I suppose. To be fair the DVD cover art isn't bad either.
I'm really reaching here and being generous in listing this as a positive but Allison is hot and looks very good in her swimsuit so at least we have someone nice to look at. Trouble is we barely get to see her due to all the clips getting in the way.
Bad Points: The obvious and main negative of course is that there is so little new and exclusive footage and so much of the old recycled footage from the previous films. If it is true that 34 minutes were filmed then why on Earth didn't they use all the 34 minutes in this or at least more of it than they did? Instead we get about 15 minutes of new footage but about 6 minutes of that is just the opening and closing credits so only about 9 minutes worth of actual new stuff. So what happened to the rest of the 1992 footage? If it was lost and the 9 minutes was all that was salvaged it would have been better just to completely reshoot the film from scratch and just include the 9 minutes as an extra on the DVD. Well maybe you are thinking easy for me to say. "Do you know how much it costs to finance a film"? And yes it takes money but we've seen many super low budget slasher films produced for just $2,000-3,000 or even lower so surely any serious film maker could scrape that much together? Even if they couldn't with the series being so popular I'm sure there wouldn't be a problem drumming up the money on Kickstarter or whatever as many fans would probably contribute to the project especially if they knew the 9 minutes of 1992 footage would be an extra on the disc.
On top of the above issue the 9 minutes or so of footage that we are left with is pretty poor. Firstly the text scroll at the start to set the scene is lazy. Couldn't the guy editing all this guff together have thrown on a white coat and played the role of psychiatrist himself writing his notes up on the computer or talking into a Dictaphone or something? Would have been as cheap as chips to do and would have created more new footage. Then we have the strange behavior of the Ranger who seems to heavily over react to Allison backing out of having sex with him and then turn into a raging psycho. It just seems weird and a big overreaction on his part. Then the Hunter adds to the misery by acting really odd when he runs across Allison. Presumably he mistakes her for a bear or something and scares himself but when he sees she is a woman he strangely keeps his gun pointed at her in a threatening way for about 20 seconds. Then in more confusion Allison later creeps up on him and puts a gun to his head and says he is going to help her. He asks what help she wants but then she shoots him (off camera). So what was the help she wanted?
There is no blood in the new footage either and the two deaths are awful. The Hunter being off camera as I just said and for the Ranger the picture just freezes and turns red. They could have at least shown the corpses face down (to avoid the need to hire lookalikes or make similar dummies) with some fake blood splashed around. Anything would have been better than what we had which was just a disappointment.
Verdict: This is sadly as terrible as most everyone says. I just can't understand why they didn't use more of the original 1992 footage or if it were mostly lost just shoot a new film from scratch. Even on a minuscule budget it couldn't have been any worse than this. If you thought Silent Night Deadly Night 2 was bad you haven't seen anything yet, this takes the biscuit. At least in the Silent Night sequel they made an effort to tell more of a story and had the sense to not use quite as many old clips as what we see here. With so little new material on offer in The Survivor and with that material being so bad anyway I can't give this any higher than a 1/10 I'm afraid.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1) Hunter: Shot in the head with a hand gun (off camera).
2) Park Ranger: Killed with a knife though we don't see the kill as instead the screen freezes and turns red.