Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989)

With a rather contrived plot and missing out on some gore, this third entry is still fun to watch. Anchor Bay US R1 DVD & Boxset.

The Film

Camp Open Horizons is a project designed to mix American youths from the rich and poor parts of the country and is based at the old Camp Rolling Hills camp ground where a series of brutal muders occured a few years ago. After killing off one of the campers, a girl from New York, Angela Baker attends the camp hoping to find the perfect camp experience, but soon discovers that these campers are no better than those before, and has to start 'removing' them from the camp...

Shot back-to-back with Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers, It is clear from the start that Teenage Wasteland is following in the footsteps of the daft and blood/boob focused prequel, instead of the surprisingly serious and well written original Sleepaway Camp movie - the idea of a camp, combining inner city and posh kids does seem to be nothing more than an excuse to get all sorts of stereotyped characters into the movie, but at least it provides something different to the 'normal' camps of the previous films. The script contains some nicely observed touches, with plenty of references to the previous films, and the genre in general - best of all is a flashback that seems to show a scene from the second movie, but when watched closesly, has obviously been warped by Angela's memory. Unfortunately, the writing this time around lacks the flair of Unhappy Campers, it never quite gels together and many of the deaths in particular are quite unoriginal, with most of the characters being poorly defined. Fortunately it remains quite humourous and well paced throughout, and builds up to a strong and quite unexpected climax, with a very good ending.

Director Michael Simpson returns from Unhappy Campers and the film (shot back to back with its precessor) has a very similar look and feel to it - effectively directed, but lacking the flair and scares of many other slasher and horror titles. Many of the gory scenes were removed for the film to reach an R rating - as a result the all important death scenes are very disjointed and pale in comparison to the previous two Sleepaway Camp movies. The soundtrack is the genre typical loud rock music, that suits the film just fine, although some more incidental music might well have helped to raise some tension in the killing scenes.

Pamela Springsteen returns as Angela with another good performance, although she does sport a rather daft wig and doesn't get much extra to do compared to the previous film. Veteran actor Michael J. Pollard (Bonnie and Clyde (1967)) takes the camp leader role this time around and seems to be enjoying himself, while the campers include a few faces that should be familiar to American television fans, as well as Tracy Griffith (sister of Melanie) as Marcia.

Enjoyable, and containing a decent mix of blood and breasts, Teenage Wasteland tries to do something new to the franchise, but is ultimately too similar to part II to be a good film. One for fans of the series and die-hard slasher fans, all others should check out parts one and two.

In Brief

Anyone famous in it? A variety of familiar names and faces, but no-one too well known.
Directed by anyone interesting? Michael Simpson - an occasional television director who's only cinema work includes this film and its prequel, along with a comedy film Fast Food (1988).
Is it scary?No, and it doesn't try to be.
Any violence/gore? Some mild gore.
Any sex? A couple of female topless scenes.
Who is it for?
Fans of Sleepaway Camp II should enjoy this sequel, but otherwise only for real slasher movie fans.


Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 1.85:1 anamorphic wide-screen. Colour.
The image is generally strong with minimal print damage and mild grain.
Audio Original English mono - sounds fine throughout.
Subtitles None
Extras The disc includes:
  • Audio commentary with director Michael Simpson and writer Fritz Gordon and moderator/fan John Klyza - with some interesting facts about the shooting.
  • Behind the scenes footage showing the filming of the opening truck death sequence. (8 minutes)
  • The original, uncut gore scenes - low quality fullscreen print with uneditied audio/ (20 minutes).
  • Original US promotional trailer (for the video premier release).
  • Extensive photo gallery, including publicity stills, shots of the gore effects and details of the opening truck scene.
  • EASTER EGG: Television news footage from Atlanta news showing the filming, includes the comments from the presenters. (3 minutes)
AvailabilityReleased as a single disc as detailed here, or the same disc is available as part of the Sleepaway Camp Survival Kit boxset, along with a booklet. 
Region Region 1 (USA, North America) - NTSC
Other regions? An Anchor Bay UK release includes the same bonus features, plus remixed 5.1 and DTS soundtrack - detailed at DVD Rewind. However, the print quality is lower.
Cuts? The film is uncut as per the video original release, but was cut down to receive an R rating when filmed, and these shots are not included on this print [although they are included in the extras on a low quality print] - the missing shots are quite noticable when watching, if only because the film is noticably less gory than most other slasher films.



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All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 23rd July 2007. Released as part of Horror September 2.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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