Ed. note– Reviews of the first two SLEEPAWAY CAMP sequels are popping up all over the internet. While other sites have connections with Scream Factory, I don’t, so I don’t have a free screener. But that’s ok, because I’m not reviewing the Blu-Ray. I’m reviewing the film itself because of what’s going on in our society. When the U.S. Supreme Court allowed same sex marriage in all 50 states last week, it became the high point in the transgender/transsexual movement that has been gaining steam for several months. This is the second in a series I call the Trans-Gressor reviews.–P.F.
It’s hard to believe that a pair of sequels can be made back-to-back, with the same director, writer and production team, in the same location no less, and one can be so much lousier than the other. SLEEPAWAY CAMP II is not exactly high quality—Hell, it doesn’t even qualify as mediocre, and pretty much falls into awful but fun range— but it had a few creative kills, a few competent actors, and most importantly a moral underpinning that served as reason for Angela Baker’s return to camp. But damn if it doesn’t seems like all involved put all their chutzpah into that one, and ran out of creative fire on SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND. What we’re left with is a lousy slasher flick, exemplified by a really bad wig.
The opening shows just how much this film has gone off the rails, taking place in New York City instead of at camp. This gives us ample opportunity to view new camper Maria’s boobs (with tattoos that read “Milk” and “Shake,” and folks, I couldn’t make this up if I tried) and out of date hairdo from a Poison concert. It also gives the filmmakers cause to use a garbage truck, which Angela uses to run over poor Milkshake Maria. Angela steals her identity and is off to camp to start the killing cycle all over again.
I’d usually at this point give a little more plot to give you the setup, but these first five minutes are so illogical they deserve a paragraph’s worth of focus. How did Angela find Maria in the city? How did she know Maria was going to Camp New Horizons? How did she know exactly what outfit Maria would be wearing, so she could wear the exact same “I ♥ NY” t-shirt? Who taught her to drive a garbage truck, and did she get a NYS trucker license with air brakes designation? Come to think of it, where did she get a garbage truck? And where the Hell did she get that ostentatious wig? You won’t get answers to any of these questions, folks, and it’s likely director Michael A. Simpson and writer Fritz Gordon don’t have them either, because they never even asked the questions. I’ll guess that Gordon’s direct line of thought for the opening was, “Milk Shake. Garbage truck. Murder. Identity switch. Cool.” That lazy writing is evident throughout the film, from the scene setups through the out of this world dialogue, right down to the characters names.
I’m ending my review here. I’d usually discuss the rest of the film, but that would be putting in more effort than Gordon did in writing it. If that opening scene sounds like your cup of tea, then check out SC III: TEENAGE WASTELAND. And if your standards are particularly low, you’ll enjoy it. And if you want some bizarre trivia about the film, I included some with the review. As for me, I stand on what I said in my introduction: all the good stuff went into SC II.
Some bizarre trivia from SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND
- Pamela Springsteen is still Bruce’s sister.
- As she’s stolen someone’s identity, Angela has chosen to look just like the girl, who nobody at the camp has ever seen before. So she wears one of the worst hair pieces in modern cinema.
- Following the standard he set in SC II, writer Fritz Gordon borrowed the character names from Hollywood. The rich campers share names with The Brady Bunch kids, the urban campers share them with West Side Story’s kids, and the couple running the camp are named Fred and Lily, from The Munsters. Did Gordon really think audiences would find this funny?
- SC II had an Estevez sister, so this one has Melanie Griffith’s sister Tracy. Her next film was much higher on the radar, the horror flick THE FIRST POWER, which starred Brat Pack member Lou Diamond Phillips.
- X Marks the Oscar: And X is probably greatly embarrassed. Michael J. Pollard portrays Fred, the horny camp owner who ends up getting some boob action by an 80s hot camper with whom Fred would NEVER have a shot if this flick wasn’t ridiculous trash. Pollard was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his part in 1967’s BONNIE AND CLYDE. He sure didn’t receive a nom for this flick.
- In SC II, camper Sean mentions his dad is a cop. Enter Barney Whitmore, the camp counselor in SC III. He’s Sean’s dad, and he’s out for revenge. He also doesn’t mind breaking the rules and roasting hot dogs for dinner when he group should be catching fish. During his introduction, one camper throws out a Barney Fife joke. I wouldn’t doubt if that’s where Gordon stole his name.
- Maria actually presents Barney her license at one point. Though obviously phony, it looks much like a real NYS license from that era. Her address is 211 W. 56th Street, right up the block from my previous restaurant job. Her birthday is July 28, 1972, exactly one year earlier than my friend John Gibbons’. Also, it looks like a Class C license, which is really a CDL. This class no longer exists, but it may have legitimately given Maria the right to drive a garbage truck.
- Haynes Brooke plays Bobby. Today’s TV audiences know him as the guy dressed up as the sun in all those Jimmy Dean breakfast products.
- Writing this trivia section is a lot more fun than writing the review for SC III.
- Once again, the old VHS cover featured a woman who was obviously not Pamela Springsteen.
- New Horizons is a social experiment that combines upper class teens with disadvantaged kids. If Gordon had any writing talent or ambition, he could have made an interesting comment on class division. Sadly, the film never makes anything of this, other than having the kids being roughly drawn snobs and thugs right out of the Generic Stereotype Generator.
- In SC II, Angela dispatches teens by cutting out a tongue, barbecuing a pair of twins, and most infamously dumping one in a porta-john. Here, she beats some people with a stick and runs one up a flagpole then drops her. Can you say, “We ran out of budget?” But hey, garbage trucks don’t come cheap.
- When Robert Hitzlik returned to SLEEPAWAY CAMP with… well, RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP, that film wipes out the second flick and this one. Some consider that not a terrible thing.
- These two sequels were the only films Gordon every wrote. I consider that a good thing.
- Michael A. Simpson, however, continues to work in the industry. Besides his two SC films, he also made FAST FOOD, which starred Pollard, Griffith and Springsteen, as well as Jim Varney. And Kevin McCarthy (cash grab, oh dear God). I’ve never seen FAST FOOD, but I read it involves a sex drug getting into the secret sauce of a burger joint. Stay classy, Simpson.