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Here at Four Horsemen Films, we're dedicated to some of the very best and worst cinematic masterpieces you know, love, and despise. Think of us as Bad Movies for Bad People, or as a liaison to the inner sanctum of cinema. Or, just think of us as quick and entertaining reads. That's what Four Horsemen Films is all about.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989)

Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989)
Written By: Fritz Gordon

Directed By:
Michael A. Simpson

Starring:
Pamela Springsteen, Tracy Griffith, Michael J. Pollard, Mark Oliver, Haynes Brooke

Country of Origin:
United States of America

The Idea:
I am recognizing a few flaws in my previous entries in this series. I don't believe I mentioned it previously, but the time it took for the producers of the original cult film in this line, that being Sleepaway Camp, is just unfathomable. Even during the 80's, the filmmakers on this project and the previous one, Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers, waited approximately five years before releasing back-to-back sequels. Think about that for a second: When Back to the Future was released in 1985, Robert Zemeckis didn't ponder what could be. He acted on his bankable commodity and created a pair of sequels as well that saw release in under four years. Figuring that the BTTF series had a budget much larger than that of these movies, it is justifiable that it would take this long.

But why in God's name did we have to wait five and six years respectively for the conclusion of something so low budget that it could have been made in a single Summer as a three-film set? I present to you Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland, a movie that takes its name alone from The Who's "Baba O'Riley." Any similarities between this movie and that song end right there. Sleepaway Camp III is the weakest in the series, and not just because The Boss didn't make a cameo appearance.

Filmed back-to-back with Sleepaway Camp II, we find ourselves in a familiar predicament: Angela Baker is at large once again, tearing through the world of teeny campers with no real motivation other than that she is one messed up...uh...woman. In the opening ten minutes alone, Angela runs over an incoming camper with a garbage truck and assumes her identity. I would love to question where she found the means to steal and operate said truck, but hey, who has time for logistics?

Angela's fellow campers this time around have all been rescued from various broken homes and juvenile detention centers in the area; places where she herself should be quite familiar with. What ensues is more murder and mayhem in the same sadistic fashion as before, except that Angela seems to have lost that imaginative spark she once had. If we were to look at the lasting novelty of the series, we'd notice that the biggest draw of these campy epics are the outlandish, bizarre, and often completely impossible death scenes. Too bad they skipped on them come round 3. Sure, it is still pretty gory, with Angela tearing off some limbs, forcing campers to snort poisonous chemicals instead of their cocaine, and even using blunt instruments to the extremes, but when she just shoots a guy for no other reason than to watch him die, I begin to lose interest in this massacre.

A gun? Really? What happened to the girl/boy that drowned a girl in a mound of shit? What about the girl/boy that flooded the pedophile with boiling hot water? What about the curling iron? Did you forget about the curling iron up the vagina? Where did our precious memories of the series go to? Apparently, by the time they needed to film this one, they just decided that beating someone with a tree branch was just as effective for the audience. In a word: Wrong.

In an attempt to redeem the film, there are dozens of references to other horror films and pop culture icons of the past and present, but none of them serves an particular purpose in the canon. After approximately 90 minutes of waiting for Angela to break out into "Born in the U.S.A.," she is defeated by the few surviving "good girls and boys" style campers who managed to evade her brief killing spree. When all looks to be over, go figure that Angela would rise up and kill the paramedics taking her to the hospital. I question the very intent behind that move, as Angela puts herself in quite the vicious cycle by doing so. Her fate undetermined, she rides off into the sunset and we are left the same way we were each film before.


Member of the crew who should've been fired: Writer Fritz Gordon must have exhausted himself with that "stellar" approach he brought to Sleepaway Camp II, because he just gave up in Sleepaway Camp III. Same story, same idea, same campers (some of them), same ending. Been here before, and it sucked then, too.

Best Name in the Cast: Three cheers for Pamela Springsteen, who once again takes the cake for the award. Yes, Baby Bruce worked on no other projects of note (save for Fast Times at Ridgemont High), and yet she manages to excel as a raving psychopath with no motivation and a serious gender complex. I can still hold out for her to sing "The Wrestler," though.

Quote of the Film:
"I like movies with really good acting, like Gone With the Wind or Care Bears." -Cindy (Seriously, WTF?)

Final Thoughts:
With the completion of this film, a fourth entered pre-production and looked promising. Entitled Sleepaway Camp IV: The Survivor, the film was to take place long after the original horrific events and it even had seeds of doubt planted about who the killer would be. Supposedly going to be another shocker, only 30 minutes of principle photography were ever released. The rest is shrouded in mystery, an unfortunate casualty of the disinterest that loomed after the release of Sleepaway Camp III. In fact, for nearly 20 years, it was the preceding film that killed the franchise in a most unjust fashion. Luckily for us, the original creators and actors came back for a return engagement and released Return to Sleepaway Camp last year. If I were you, I wouldn't voluntarily watch this one to get inside the mind of Angela Baker, unless, that is, you want to be the next Angela Baker. PENIS!
B.B.

1 comment:

Madame Hook. said...

Care Bears? Cindy might be right, that's some damn fine acting right there. Puts Gone With The Wind to shame.