Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989)

Michael A. Simpson

Pamela Springsteen - Angela Baker
Tracy Griffith - Marcia Holland
Michael J. Pollard - Herman Miranda
Mark Oliver - Tony DeRaro
Haynes Brooke - Bobby Stark
Sandra Dorsey - Lily Miranda
Daryl Wilcher - Riff
Kim Wall - Cindy Hammersmith
Kyle Holman - Snowboy
Jill Terashita - Arab
Cliff Brand - Officer Barney Whitmore

Genre - Horror/Slasher

Running Time - 80 Minutes

Score - 2 Howls Outta 4

I believe I mentioned some time before that I've never been to camp. I've never slept in a tent. I've never told ghost stories around a campfire. I've never roasted marshmallows hanging off of a twig. I've never put a firecracker up a camp buddy's nose, lit it, and watched his head explode. I pretty much missed the whole outdoors portion of my childhood and adolescence.

But at least I can live the camp experience with Angela Baker, the gender-confused killer of SLEEPAWAY CAMP. While the experience the third time around isn't as memorable as the first or as funny as the second, SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND is still an average sequel that gives SLEEPAWAY CAMP fans pretty much what they have come to expect: deaths, T & A, and silly one-liners. Oh that Angela...

After killing some Latina chick with a truck, Angela Baker (Pamela Springsteen) disguises herself as her as she returns to Camp Rolling Hills, which is now being called Camp New Horizons due to Angela's killing spree. This time around, the camp counselors pretty much figured it's time to conduct an experiment where rich kids would end up camping with poor kids, hoping that they will share in each other's experiences and get along. Posing as a poor kid, Angela is split into a group as part of the experiment, hoping to keep her cover as Officer Barney Whitmore (Cliff Brand), who happens to be the father of one of Angela's last victims in SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS, is in charge of one of the groups. Of course, Angela can't manage it for long as she still doesn't understand adolescence at all, killing those she considers immoral.

is a film I saw many years ago and really could not remember much about. And after watching it again recently after so many years, it's easy to understand why. Besides certain death sequences, nothing really stands out in this installment. It's pretty much what you'd expect from an 80s slasher sequel like this. While watchable, it's pretty tame stuff and doesn't push the envelope enough to make it pop in the genre.

The story in SLEEPAWAY CAMP III has a pretty interesting premise. Using the class issue between the rich and the poor is a pretty cool concept. A lot of drama could arise from a situation like this, especially in a woodland environment that just happens to have a killer on the loose. Unfortunately, it's never used in a way that makes the film any more interesting or different from other slasher films. What we get instead is the usual stereotype: white rich kids calling poor black kids the N-word, black kids playing hip-hop, street kids spray painting stuff, preppy looking rich kids liking kinky sex shit [no wonder so many politicians have sex scandals] and a rich girl falling for a poor boy. I wished to see all the kids kind of group together against the killer, and then turning on each other to save their own asses. It could have brought a lot of drama to the proceedings, but unfortunately we don't get that here.

Speaking of the kids, these characters were really unlikable or uninteresting. Besides Angela, Tony, and Marcia, all the others deserved to have painful deaths. They were so stereotypical, it wasn't even funny. These "teenagers" [who looked thirty years old] had about as much depth as an episode of The Hills. I thought the characters in part 2 were barebones! I know slasher flicks aren't known for their high level of character development, but when these characters don't have personalities that grab my attention, I'm gonna shit all over them. Especially Riff with his hip hop music. I like hip hop, especially old-school hip hop, but it just went on and on and on. What also went on and on and on is the fact that these characters didn't get killed fast enough for my tastes. Just really annoying as hell.

And the script tries to be as funny and witty as UNHAPPY CAMPERS but fails. Sure, Angela gets some decent one-liners in between kills, but they're more miss than hit for the most part. The dialogue was pretty lousy in this flick. It sort of felt rushed to me.

The gore and death sequences aren't all that great but at least they're enjoyable compared to everything else. I think the best ones were the death by lawnmower, where some old bitch is buried underneath garbage and gets her head chopped by the blades of a mower. I also liked the firecracker in the nostril bit. Pretty sweet. I liked the double axe murder too. The death by flagpole, where a victim was lifted up by rope to the point where she was high enough for Angela to let go and let the bitch drop, was okay too. Then you get your normal stabbings, decapitations, and constant stick beatings which got boring after the first two whacks. The deaths deliver but feel tame compared to the first two installments. I guess Angela wasn't motivated this time around.

The direction by Michael A. Simpson was decent. The film looked nice and the pacing felt just right. My favorite bit of direction was the scene was when Angela raised the zipper of a tent while Herman, who was inside, was lowering his pants' zipper. It actually made me smile because that shows the director had some thought going into this film. Still, the film is never suspenseful. No tension to be felt here, people. Angela kills exactly when you know she wills. Plus the whole film takes place during the day! Where's the horror in that? Some night shots would have been nice!

The acting wasn't the film's strong suit, no. But it was effective enough for the story. Pamela Springsteen is still a pleasure to watch as Angela, but there's something missing this time around. She actually looks bored some of the time, which may have been due to the filming of UNHAPPY CAMPERS and TEENAGE WASTELAND back-to-back. Still, I enjoy watching her have her way with stupid characters I'd probably hurt myself. Tracy Griffith was pretty cool as Marcia. She played it sweet and charming. I liked her. Same goes to Mark Oliver's Tony. Good acting from him and he seemed pretty cool. Too bad he was a victim of late 80s fashion. Yikes! Michael J. Pollard as Herman annoyed me. Especially since the old fart got to play with some quality knockers. Bastard. Haynes Brooke couldn't die fast enough for me as the kinky Bobby. He looked like he was 35 and unhygenic. Like Angela would ever sleep with him. Sandra Dorsey as Lily was also annoying and such a bitch that a lawnmower death was still to kind for her. Knowing my luck, I'll end up marrying a woman like Lily. Just my luck. Cliff Brand was cool as Officer Barney. I bought the bitter performance and his confrontation with Angela towards the end. And Kyle Holman was Snowboy was pretty funny. He's definitely a dude I'd hang with.

If you liked the first two SLEEPAWAY CAMP films, you'll probably like TEENAGE WASTELAND as well. It does suffer from sequelitis, but it delivers where you least expect it to. If only if the film had more energy, better characters, and jokes that actually worked, TEENAGE WASTELAND would have been on the level of UNHAPPY CAMPERS. But it's good for a rental, especially if you're hanging with buddies and have some beer nearby. Entertaining flick but forgettable after it's over.


  1. I love parts 2 and 3. Actually, I have been working on a review of this one. But, I will probably put it off for a little while now. This is a great write up and sums up the movie pretty nicely. I think I would have pushed it up to 3 howls...


  2. Yeah THE SLEEPAWAY CAMP franchise is mostly a fun time [except for the last installment - ew]. But I think the original and Part 2 are a lot better and more memorable than this installment. That's why it got a lower score. But it's definitely a film I would watch anytime it's on television without question. It's better than watching most modern horror, that's for sure.


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