Thoughts on… Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989)

Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland, 1989.

Directed by Michael A. Simpson.
Starring Pamela Springsteen, Tracy Griffith, and Mark Oliver.


You can’t keep a happy murderous camper away in this third visit to yet another doomed camp.

In an attempt to keep the budget down, Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland was shot back-to-back with Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988) on the same campsite. In this film the camp is renamed to Camp New Horizon, and the new owners are keen to keep a lid on the events of the previous summer – but you can’t keep a good slasher villain down. Angela Baker (Pamela Springsteen) is back for another summer of camp fun, adopting the name and identity of a teenage girl she recently murdered in a bizarre opening segment. To say Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland is not concerned with logic or sense is an understatement.

The owners of Camp New Horizon have decided to engage in a social experiment, inviting both privileged kids alongside teenagers from low-income households. Stereotypes abound, it’s lazy character writing but matters little when you just know each of the kids will eventually be facing the sharp end of Angela’s fury. The film does attempt to tie into the previous entry, but any consistency with Sleepaway Camp (1983) is pretty much gone. The character of Angela is radically different here – not just in the disguise she is forced to adhere to, but also her motives for embarking on a killing spree are a little less obvious this time around. Still, she’s just as quick to right any kid who puts a foot wrong in spectacularly gory fashion.

Typically with slasher films of this ilk, the filmmakers use two ploys in an attempt to draw in (primarily male) audiences – boobs and blood. Whilst Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland features enough bloody moments to satisfy, it’s surprisingly lacking in the booby department. For those seeking a heroine to get behind and root for we’re offered Marcia Holland (Tracy Griffith), and although she isn’t really given much to do Griffith does manage to bring a likeability to her. Everyone else is mercilessly expendable.

In all honesty, Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland isn’t a particularly good movie. A returning Pamela Springsteen tries her darndest despite a limiting script, but the majority of the acting is sadly woeful. Much like its predecessor, Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland is notable for featuring a female killer who we follow from the very beginning, which results in a lack of suspense but a fairly enjoyable time. The sense of fun that Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers possesses is absent, but it’s difficult to expect great things from a third entry in a franchise that really lacks a strong identifier. If you’ve followed Angela’s exploits this far you’re given basically more of the same here – it’s up to you if you think that is a good or a bad thing.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★

Liam Underwood

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