Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1988)

Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1988)

She’s back to Slash last year’s record.

Camp New Horizons opens up on the site of the former camp murders and intends to conduct a social experiment by pairing troubled and rebellious inner city teenagers with wealthy, well-educated upper class teenagers. Psychotic murderer Angela kills one of the inner city teens on their way to the camp and assumes her identity to gatecrash the group. It’s not long before she’s up to her old tricks again.

 

Filmed at the same time as the second instalment, Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland goes down exactly the same dopey slasher route into completely familiar territory. So if your tolerance levels for the manic Angela were exhausted during the last film, then switch off now because she gets a whole lot worse. This one basically feels like a mixture of the leftover footage and unwanted ideas from the first sequel and is a perfect illustration of why the slasher film died off towards the end of the 80s with its approach being to not take anything seriously, goof around way too much and try to be funny when it clearly isn’t.

Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland doesn’t have the same edge as before, partly because the first sequel was a complete change of direction for the series after the infamous original. Gone was the gloom, the grit and the seediness and in came the juvenile, the goofy and the silly. It worked well once because it was such a contrast in styles but I thought there’s only so much of that I could take and unfortunately this one pushed me over the edge. The attempts at comedy rarely hit the mark and the juvenile nature of the film will provoke more eye-rolling reactions than smirks or laughs.

With no story other than the continuation of Angela’s murderous rampage, the film lurches from one gory set piece to the next as the intelligence-deficient characters prove Darwin’s theory of evolution right. The characters are a complete waste of time because we know most of them are going to die. The film lives up to every stereotype you could imagine from ‘inner city teenagers’ including a black kid who listens to rap music and carries a blade, the Latino gang banger and the white punk. The pompous rich kids are given no better backgrounds other than ‘football scholarships’ or rich daddies. They’re all perfect caricatures of the 80s though and something which is unintentionally funny. It’s just as well that some of the females are good-looking and provide the token nudity for the film. It wouldn’t be a cheap 80s slasher without it. The only decent characters are the two camp counsellors – one being a lazy, fat woman and the other being a perverted older dude and both named after characters from The Munsters.

Angela should have been one of the decent characters but her shtick began to annoy me in the previous sequel and she turns it up a few notches here. Mercifully, she doesn’t waste any time in dispatching the teens and the body count is just as big as before. The deaths all come in quick succession too. In fact every five minutes or so, someone meets their doom in various ways. The overly creative dispatches aren’t there anymore although the lawnmower and flagpole deaths are quite inventive, if cheesy in their execution. There is some gore but quite a lot of it has been cut out to give it a suitable rating. Although for some reason this footage appears as an extra feature on the DVD – why not include it in the film since people are going see it anyway?

Pamela Springsteen is still pretty fun to watch as Angela but even she has lost her enthusiasm this time around. The script is basically ‘kill, small talk, one liner, kill, small talk, one liner’ for the whole film so maybe she even got bored with the same routine. I certainly did after the first twenty minutes. Usually I find it slightly insulting when a couple of characters go off on their own but here ALL of the characters go off on their own with Angela at some point or are left on their own at the camp. Couldn’t the writers have come up with better ways of getting everyone isolated?

 

I’ll be honest – you can do a lot worse in the sub-genre than watch Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland. It’s virtually the same film as the previous instalment except without the enthusiasm and charm and with a lot more infuriating cheese. If you like the gratuitous and corny 80s slashers then it’s definitely for you.

 

 ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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