Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989, Michael A. Simpson)

The final, sort of, entry in the Sleepaway Camp series, Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland, bring our killer to the woods for a final (perhaps very final) time. There have been follow-up films, but whether they are directly related is beyond my viewing experience.

This time around, Angela Baker (Pamela Springsteen) is dying to get back to camp, and to do so finds a girl, Maria (Kashina Kessler), who is about to attend "New Horizons" camp; an experiment in bringing privileged and underprivileged teens together. Angela kills Maria, and takes her place. People notice immediately that she seems much older than seventeen, which Angela blames on a life of drug abuse and hard living. The camp is run by the skeevy Herman and Lily Miranda (Michael J. Pollard and Sandra Dorsey, respectively), and assisted by police officer Barney Whitmore (Cliff Brand), father of one of Angela's victims in the previous film. The entire cast is unlikeable. The rich kids are annoying, racist, or perverted, and the poor kids are generic juvenile delinquents. Angela takes of a bit of a Hannibal Lechter vibe here. She is not always wronged by those she kills, but rather finds them to be boorish or rude. She is really just looking for reasons to off teenagers, and these people are just lining up for her attention.

Angela had a makeover for this one.

One thing that was funny, that was pointed out on Tumblr, is that the camp owners are "Herman and Lily" like The Munsters, the rich kids are "Greg, Peter, Bobby, Marcia, Jan, and Cindy" like The Brady Bunch, and the poor kids are "Tony, Maria, Anita, Snowboy, Arab, and Riff", all characters from West Side Story. Lastly, the cop is named Barney, like Barney from The Andy Griffith Show.

This one has its merits, but is easily the weakest of the three films. There are some well played bits of storytelling logistics here, but overall it is a bit flat in comparison. If there is any message here, it is that people (in Angela's estimation at least) suck. Rich, poor; young, old; doesn't really matter. One of the biggest failings is that Angela is less sympathetic this time. This time it is more "watch Angela kill" than anything, reducing her to near Jason Voorhees status. You still get some laughs out of her, but she is less compelling than in Unhappy Campers.

I am on the fence here. On the plus side, it has B-Movie royalty Michael J. Pollard (who has been in everything), but in many ways falls flat. Completists will want to see it. Gore-hounds will likely be pleased. Overall, however, not a very compelling film.

No comments:

Post a Comment