Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland

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Once again Angela, The Angel of Death, Baker has returned to reap vengeance upon yet another group of unsuspecting campers. This time she’s masquerading as a camper and the would-be victims are a group of upper class snobs and underprivileged hooligans who have been thrust together in an odd social experiment meant to bridge the gap between the two classes.

While an interesting concept, the little experiment goes about as well as one would expect, with the predictable abuse beginning before the kids even make it to dinner. Naturally, Angela doesn’t take too kindly to all this crude, un-camp-like behaviour and, being the only one with any moral fiber (this is only partially a joke) at Camp New Horizons, she takes it upon herself to punish all the bad apples.

sleepawaycamp3_2Chika is really keen on proper campfire safety.

Despite a slight plot shift, Sleepaway Camp III is pretty much exactly like its predecessor. Which makes perfect sense, as both Sleepaway Camp II and Sleepaway Camp III were shot back-to-back, meaning they were filmed at the same time, at the same locations, with the same director and, thus, carry the exact same tone. All of which is actually kind of nice, as this makes the third film feel less like a sequel and more like a natural continuation of the second film. I suspect that if you cut out the credit sequences and watched the films together the transition would feel perfectly smooth.

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Like Sleepaway Camp II, Sleepaway Camp III is also filled with a bevy of ironically graphic deaths. Though, while I feel like some of the deaths here are much more creative than the last film, some of them also aren’t quite as irony filled.

Last time the backtalker has her tongue cut out, the shit-talker was drowned in the commode, the peeping toms lost their eyes, etc, etc. This go round, sure, the idiot obsessed with firecrackers gets a lit one shoved up his nose, and the guy that gets too handsy loses his arms, but several of the others are just sort of….killed. Don’t get me wrong, watching the sex-crazed counselor awkwardly run around a tent with his pants around his ankles while Angela beats him with a stick is still amusing as all hell, but it’s just not as ironically amusing as it could have been, is what I’m saying.

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Just like the last film, the twenty-something ‘teens’ make their triumphant return. I really wouldn’t have brought it up again, as it should be perfectly expected at this point, except in this installment Angela is now trying to pass as one of the poor, troubled campers. One would think, considering the absurdity of these movies, that the easiest way around the conundrum of trying to pass off someone who was a counselor in the last film as a camper in the next film would simply be to ignore the issue altogether.

Not so.

I fact, Sleepaway Camp III mentions, no less than three times, that Angela looks a little old to be a camper, all while she’s standing next to people who are clearly her own damn age. The first time they mentioned it, I chalked it up as an inside joke. But as it came up again it started to feel like they were genuinely pushing the narrative that she somehow looked so much older than her peers. Which really just made the people around her seem like total idiots. Then again, some of these same people thought it would be a good idea to bring a bunch of troubled teens to the same camp that had been the site of grisly multiple homicides the year before committed by a mentally unstable killer, with said killer still on the loose. So perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that so many people seem to suffering from horror movie brain trauma.

sleepawaycamp3_5Not to be insensitive to those who are suffering from future, genuine brain trauma.

One of the things that makes Sleepaway Camp III different from the first two film is the lack of any trans or homophobia.

sleepawaycamp3_6Yay!

Instead, Sleepaway Camp III replaces that with a shocking amount of casual racism, uttered by both the rich and poor kids alike.

sleepawaycamp3_7Boooo!

Maybe they thought it was realistic. Maybe they were trying to show how ugly racism is, no matter what social standing you happen to belong to. Maybe they weren’t thinking anything about it at all. Whatever the case, it comes across as forced and horribly awkward to watch.

sleepawaycamp3_8Proceed at your own risk.

Sleepaway Camp III is an excellent successor to Sleepaway Camp II and complements it quite nicely. It has many of the same flaws as the previous film, but it also has some solid production values and a cornucopia of creative deaths and dark, inside-humor that should please many a slasher fan. It’s not scary in any way, but if you like your slasher mixed with humor than you’ll likely find some enjoyment out of it.

Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

It has also received a very nice Bluray treatment from Shout! Factory, along with the previous films, Sleepaway Camp and Sleepaway Camp II.

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