Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland

sleepaway-camp-3-rev Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland  (1989)    Double Helix Films/Horror    RT: 80 minutes    Rated R (graphic violence, gore, language, racial epithets, nudity, sex, drug and alcohol use)    Director: Michael A. Simpson    Screenplay: Fritz Gordon    Music: James Oliverio    Cinematography: Bill Mills    Release date: August 4, 1989 (US, limited)    Cast: Pamela Springsteen, Tracy Griffith, Mark Oliver, Kim Wall, Daryl Wilcher, Sandra Dorsey, Michael J. Pollard, Cliff Brand, Haynes Brooke, Kyle Holman, Kashina Kessler, Randi Layne, Chung Yen Tsay, Jarret Beal, Sonya Maddox, Jill Terashita, Stacie Lambert, Charles Lawlor, Jerry Griffin, Mike Nagel.    Box Office: N/A      Body Count: 16

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 One good murder spree deserves another. That’s why, one year later, Angela Baker returns to the scene of the slaughter to satisfy her appetite for dead teenagers. Like the previous installment, I didn’t know about Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland until I saw it on the shelf at West Coast Video. Since I enjoyed the last one so much, I wasted no time in snatching it up and making a beeline for my VCR. By this point, I knew exactly what to expect. No point in soft-selling or playing the spin game, we all know the real reason movies like Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland exist and it has nothing to do with anything commonly associated with quality cinema. Its raison d’etre is to show misbehaving teens (and adults) being killed in wild, gruesome ways. In that respect, this third chapter in the Angela Baker saga goes above and beyond the call of duty.

sleepaway-camp-3 Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland immediately establishes its levels of creativity (high) and intelligence (very low) by having Angela (Springsteen) run down a girl with a garbage truck on a New York street. Where did she get a garbage truck? How does she know how to drive it? It’s New York, where is everybody? There aren’t even any homeless people in the trash-strewn alleyway where Victim #1 meets her demise. Angela proceeds to dump the girl’s body in the back of the vehicle and engage the compactor. Why? She intends to take her place in a group of underprivileged teens heading to Camp New Horizons for “an experiment in sharing”. They’ll be spending a few days in the woods with a group of spoiled, overprivileged teens from nicer neighborhoods.

 New Horizons is located on the site of Camp Rolling Hills where Angela murdered 19 people the year before. Where is the sense in returning to the scene of one’s own crime? The new owners, Lily (Dorsey, Grizzly) and Herman (Pollard, Bonnie and Clyde), aren’t the most qualified people to take charge of a large group of rowdy, rebellious and/or spoiled teens who will likely be at each other’s throats before the end of the first day. She’s lazy and apathetic. He’s a sleazy pervert. This experiment will NOT yield the desired results, especially with a serial killer among them.

 They divide into three groups, the third one headed by Barney (Brand), a cop with a personal vendetta against Angela. One of the victims of the previous year’s massacre was his son Sean. The line-up of potential victims includes Riff (Wilcher), a hot-tempered thug from Detroit; Cindy (Wall), a perky but snotty bigoted bitch; Bobby (Brooke), a clueless overachiever with political aspirations; Snowboy (Holman), a punk graffiti artist from Chicago and Peter (Beal), a hyperactive black preppy who’s also a pyromaniac. There’s also Jan (Lambert), a hot chick who becomes Herman’s willing sex partner. The “good kids” are naïve Marcia (Griffith) and Tony (Oliver), a gang member from East L.A. who wants to get out of the life. Naturally, these two get romantically involved.

 Angela works her way through each group, moving onto the next one after finishing off everybody in the previous one. Now we get to the fun part of the review, the part where I describe the kill scenes. We get some pretty cool ones in this one too. Angela tricks a drug-addicted reporter into snorting drain cleaner. Somebody gets impaled through the mouth with a stick. A head is exploded with a firecracker. Somebody gets dropped from a flagpole during a trust exercise. A girl is decapitated with an axe. A boy has his arms torn from their sockets. There are stabbings, shootings, impalings and clubbings. The topper has to be the scene where a particularly awful character is buried up to her neck in a landfill and has her head run over by a lawnmower. I would have liked more gore than there is; we have the wonderful MPAA to thank for the lack of blood shown.

 Like the previous movie, writer-director Michael A. Simpson once again brings a black sense of humor to the proceedings. Angela gets off some good lines, usually right before she dispatches some poor deserving victim. SPOILER ALERT! Right before she kills Bobby, she says, “Thank God there’ll be one less idiot in politics.” When asked about her superior wood-chopping skills, she claims that she’s never done it before then dryly adds “But I’ve chopped other things.” The best line comes near the end when she notes “It seems every year I’m at camp someone loses their head.” It’s dialogue like this that makes it worthwhile watching a movie like Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (btw, LOVE the subtitle!).

 You know how the characters in the previous movie were named after Brat Pack actors? This time, they’re named for the Brady Bunch kids (but no Cousin Oliver, that sucks!) as well as characters from The Munsters (Herman and Lily) and West Side Story (Maria, Tony and Riff).

 Once again, Springsteen brings a macabre comical touch to Angela. However, there’s NO way in real life she’d EVER pass for a teenage girl, no matter how trashy she dresses. It’s one of the movie’s most bizarre aspects. As for the acting in general, it’s not bad for the type of the movie it is. The performances are fairly consistent with the previous movie in that they’re exactly what the material calls for. None of it is Oscar-level but who looks for that in a movie called Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland, a title I guarantee you’ll never hear mentioned at the Oscars. It’s a trashy movie but very entertaining. The makeup effects are pretty good. The heavy metal soundtrack is a nice add. Pollard camps it up nicely as a creepy lech. It’s a cool entry in the series AND the slasher genre. It’s funny, violent and twisted. It’s the kind of horror sequel I live for. 

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