By Anthony Crabtree, Guest Blogger
There are many great elements about the slasher subgenre. For instance, sometimes you can jump from sequel to sequel and never really miss a beat. Or the fact that the budget has no bearing on the final product. As a matter of fact, sometimes a lower budget will is what makes a slasher entertaining. The original “Sleepaway Camp” was the first review I did for my Slasher Summer Camp guest blog, and since continuity doesn’t matter when it comes to the genre, let’s skip right to “Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland.”
“Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland,” written by Fritz Gordon, Robert Hiltzik (characters), directed by Michael A. Simpson, 80 minutes, rated R.
Angela is back in “Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland,” and to make sure the entire audience knows, director Michael A. Simpson includes a shot of a giant spray-painted wall that reads “Angela is back.” Simpson’s goal with the third film in this franchise is to take the standard slasher model and create a film that is a tongue-in-cheek comedy. It works to some extent, but never quite finds its footing in the comedy realm.
The plot revolves around Angela Baker (played by Pamela Springsteen, who played the character in part II as well and, yes, is the sister of Bruce), who has had a sex change since the first film, who murders and pretends to be a teenager in order to go to Camp New Horizons. The camp was created to bring together lower socioeconomic teens with those from a higher level in order to provide them both with a different experience. Of course, when the teens get there, racism and stereotypes run amuck,
but it doesn’t matter anyway because Angela just starts killing everyone. For what reason? This time around, I think it’s because she honestly just wants to have a wholesome, fun time at camp.
Being a film that ended up going direct-to-video, likely with a shoestring budget, Simpson does what he can with the material. It’s not Shakespeare, and it does manage to get a couple of chuckles as Angela throws out some cringe-worthy one-liners. At one point, she pulls a hockey mask from the river and, in a very clear setup, asks the two she is fishing with what day it is. They respond Saturday the 14th. It’s a little funny.
These moments dominate “Sleepaway Camp III,” but it’s not enough to satisfy. The winks and nods become old and tired, and while you might laugh, you almost don’t want to because they are so obvious and cheap.
“Sleepaway Camp III” might provide enough for certain slasher fans, but it certainly does not compare to the original, which was an awkward and bizarre take on the run-of-the-mill slasher film. The comedy runs dry after awhile, and considering this is the main element propelling the film, when it ends the fun stops.