Shot back-to-back with the previous entry, it’s not hard to peg why Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland doesn’t manage to contain even a third of the entertainment value as the one before it. Gone are the satirical jabs at other horror flicks, gone is the silly summer camp humour, and also gone are the fairly creative killings. All we’re left is an empty, bland shell and it’s really hard to believe both movies were made by the same creative team. As with most slashers of the late 80s that were influenced by Elm Street’s Freddy there’s a lot of one-liners spouted after the murder scenes, and there’s definitely a high body count, but what’s here is completely dull mostly consisting of people being pummeled with large branches. The deaths just feel neutered (much like the entire flick) and it suffers from obvious cuts since the DVD includes deleted bloodiness in the extras – which are a bit more exciting if still mostly tame.
Things open on a big-haired, trashy teen with “milk” and “shake” tattooed above her boobs who’s just about to head off to summer camp. Too bad then that she’s chased down and run over by a garbage truck driven by everyone’s favourite transgender slasher Angela (Pamela Springsteen) who’s planning to take her place at Camp New Horizons that has been set-up at the site of the last massacre and is intended to be an experiment to bring together a variety of well-off teenagers and delinquent ones for exercises in sharing and caring.
Looks like Angela’s back to her old tricks right away when, after being interviewed by a reporter as part of an expose on the camp, she gives our newscaster a bag of cleaner pretending it’s cocaine. Pretty soon the killings start anew as Angela takes every opportunity to start knocking off her fellow campers including the pervy old dude (Michael J. Pollard miles away from Bonnie & Clyde) that she catches making out with one of the slutty teen girls, the rich racist girl who’s hung from a flagpole, and all the others who make her mad with their bad behavior. Also on hand as one of the adult supervisors is cop Barney (Cliff Brand) who just happens to be the dad of one of the guys she killed the previous summer.
As mentioned above a whole lot of people die in rapid succession but, unlike part two, there’s no real variety to them and there’s only so many scenes of someone being hit with a stick one can take. And if it was at all possible, this time our heroine Marcia (Tracy Griffith) feels even more thrown into the task than Renee Estevez did in the previous entry – though there is a lot of mild and mediocre subplot involving her getting romantically involved with bad boy Tony (Mark Oliver). People die. Angela makes a quip. Marcia is kidnapped. Our finale offers up a fairly cool idea having three people tied together before it sputters out and sets things up for another sequel. I yawned, a lot.
Showing great charisma and having fun with her role in Unhappy Campers, Springsteen is still probably the best thing here but even Angela’s personality has been muted and she’s forced to spout lots of lame after-kill jokes. I just wish they’d of let her continue her goody two-shoes persona from before instead of making Angela yet another forgettable killer. They’ve also cast another lesser celebrity sibling as our final girl with Melanie’s half-sister Tracy taking over for Estevez’s Molly. She makes little to no impression here and would fare much better in 1990’s The First Power. Sandra Dorsey (Grizzly) is fairly amusing as camp co-owner Lily and Brand tries his best to be a hard-ass, but fun loving, cop. The rest of the young cast is pretty forgettable and most of them wouldn’t do much else – Stacie Lambert especially as this is her lone film credit and she gets to be groped, while topless, by a guy forty-plus years her senior.
Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland just isn’t good. Simpson and Gordon delivered a really entertaining time with part two but seem to have forgotten what made that one work. It’s missing the wacky perversions and decent deaths of the first flick and the self-aware satire of the second. It’s just a vapid, unimaginative follow-up and a useless one at that. Still, it is better than Return to Sleepaway Camp which would arrive nineteen years later. (Chris Hartley, 5/13/14)
Directed By: Michael A. Simpson.
Written By: Fritz Gordon.
Starring: Pamela Springsteen, Tracy Griffith, Mark Oliver, Kim Wall.