Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989)

MARCH 7, 2011


If you didn’t like Sleepaway Camp II, then you should probably avoid Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland, since it’s pretty much the same goddamn movie. And thus, even if you did like it, you should skip this one, unless you just want to see more of the same except without any gore whatsoever, not to mention the lack of younger victims. I know folks hate on Return To, but at least it offered some gore and wasn’t a direct copy of the previous film.

This and Happy Campers were actually shot back to back, a process that has seemingly never worked once (and don’t bring up LOTR – that’s a completely different thing). More often than not, the first of the two works out better (Dead Man’s Chest vs At World’s End, for example), because everyone is fresh and eager to go, and the writers probably didn’t know they were doing back to back movies when they wrote the first of the pair, so they had to cobble something together when they might not have been on their A-game. And let’s be honest - Sleepaway II wasn’t exactly a great film to begin with, yet III follows the same pattern as the other back-to-back productions, i.e. being worse.

Plus, once again Angela is just sort of walking around and cheerfully killing people in broad daylight, an approach that wore thin before II was even finished. At first I thought they were trying to pull some sort of switcheroo on us, because she’d have sunglasses on sometimes and then they would disappear in the next shot/scene, so I was thinking maybe there was an impostor of some sort actually committing the murders, but no – it’s just Mike Simpson’s piss-poor direction.

And maybe it wasn’t screenwriter Fritz Gordon’s fault, because he probably didn’t know who would be playing the role, but the fact that Michael J. Pollard is one of the first to die is just inexcusable. Pollard’s the kind of guy that can make even the worst movies entertaining, and this movie needed all the help it could get. At least he gets to lick a girl’s nipple before he gets offed (it’s pretty much the only thing he does in the movie besides stand around making confused faces). And whatever happened to him, anyway? He hasn’t been in anything since House Of 1000 Corpses – someone needs to cast him in a juicy supporting role, ASAP (unless he is sick or something, in which case I hope he gets better).

Luckily there are a few good bits sprinkled throughout, keeping it from being a complete waste of time. I loved Angela’s excuse for her short size (“My town didn’t have fluoride in the drinking water”), as well as the hateful street kid who pulls a gun on folks at the drop of a hat. I also enjoyed the “climax” (this being a Sleepaway Camp movie, I have to use the term loosely), where Angela has some of the remaining counselors play a hide and seek type game while they are tied up – if they find the girl before time is up she’ll let them go free. They really could have used some more summer camp motifs throughout the film, in fact; the absence of kids makes it easy to forget why they are even there.

It’s also easy to forget why YOU are there watching the film, since all of the gore was excised from this version (apparently it’s on the Anchor Bay boxed set, however – not sure where MGM HD got their otherwise nice looking transfer). I don’t know why the MPAA would come down on this particular film (I don’t recall II being so bloodless), but they really did a number on it – there’s hardly a single drop of blood to be seen. The double-axe death near the end of the movie is borderline incoherent because they had to cut around what actually happened; the two teens run into a room and then suddenly they are pinned to the wall. So basically, if you absolutely have to see this movie, make sure it’s the uncut version.

One thing puzzled me – is all the racist stuff supposed to be funny? The black kid is a cartoonish stereotype, one girl won’t look at a guy because he’s Mexican, etc. If they were going for a sort of “kitchen sink” approach to humor (like Postal, for example), I could see the humor in it, but it’s rather limited in scope, which just makes it seem actually racist. But I’m guessing the only folks who would be watching this movie nowadays aren’t exactly discerning, so it doesn’t matter.

It takes some effort to manage to be the worst Sleepaway Camp movie, though. Grats on that one.

What say you?


  1. Yeah, pretty much one of the most overrated horror series as a whole. I include the first film whole-heartedly in that statement, which is arguably only infamous due to a penis. I actually consider 2 to be the best of the bunch.

  2. Unfortunately an uncut copy of Teenage Wasteland doesn't exist. But the deleted gore footage does exist and is available as an extra on the Survival Kit boxed set.

    I don't see why they couldn't do the same thing they did with the second film and add it all back in, it's not like the footage was in any worse shape then the added gore in part 2. Of course they couldn't even be bothered to get an uncut transfer of the original movie either, so the only way to find that is on VHS. Loved the review as always, might not agree with the opinion (Return was the worst by far) but I always enjoy reading about my favorite cheesy movie franchise:)

  3. Nope, Return is the worst. By quite a way!

    Sleepaway Camp was one of those movies that was never going to benafit from becoming a franchise; it's an okay slasher, elevated to seeming better than is is by a left-field twist at the end, but (having gone the franchise route) you'd have thought they'd have made something of Angela's origin; perhaps a psycho stylee duel identity or somesuch, rather than just going 'she had it cut off and is just a psychopathic woman now' - odd.

  4. Sleepaway Camp was it's own little world that should have just stayed one movie. I really never understood why sequels were made for this film [especially in this manner]. 2 & 3 are so disconnected from the original that I feel 2 & 3 could have been there own series. It just seems as if they wanted to put a name on it that was already out there [and some lame quick storyline to connect it to the original]. This is one of the weirdest series to me. I'm just happy they decided to end with 3 [thus far] & not drag on the "franchise" like they did with "The Howling" franchise.


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