Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989)

... aka: Nightmare Vacation III
... aka: Sleepaway Camp 3

Directed by:
Michael A. Simpson

Let's first state the obvious: Part III is a silly, corny, juvenile and incredibly dumb comic slasher sequel, so if you're looking to be scared, look elsewhere. That said, if you've got a hankering for cheap gore, terrible one-liners and bare breasts, you should have no problem laughing along with this hokey hunk of late 80s junk. Say what you want about it, but it is entertaining. Shot back-to-back with Part II somewhere in the boonies of Georgia by the same director and crew, the delightful Pamela Springsteen returns as chirpy moralistic psycho Angela Baker. In the charming opening sequence, she runs over a frizzy-haired tramp (Kashina Kessler) with "Milk Shake" tattooed on her chest, then crushes the body in a garbage truck, steals the girl's id card, assumes her identity ("Maria Nicastro") and then uses it to go back to - Where else? - camp. The victim was one of a half dozen disadvantaged teenagers selected to go Camp New Horizons, where counselors Herman (Michael J. Pollard) and Lily (Sandra Dorsey) Miranda are conducting an "experiment in sharing" by mixing poor inner city teens with rich kids. Well actually, they're only really interested in the money but that is neither here nor there...

Angela is introduced to her fellow campers and soon realizes that nearly every one of them is obnoxious, perverted, a druggie, a "fornicator" or just incredibly annoying. She then decides to do society a favor by slaughtering them. Among the fodder are Cindy Hammersmith (Kim Wall), a perky cheerleader who's also a racist snob, rap-music-loving gang-banger Riff (Daryl Wilcher), who comes packing heat, Asian bitch Arab (Jill Terashita), who makes fun of Angela's industrial strength bra, brain-damaged spray-paint-obsessed punk Snowboy (Kyle Holman) and wanna-be politician and closet bondage enthusiast Bobby Stark (Haynes Brooke; who is best known these days as the guy in the sunshine suit from the Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich commercials). Herman and Lily prove to be every bit as bad as the teens. He's a pervert with a Playboy belt buckle who's intent on bedding the large-breasted Jan (Stacie Lambert) and she's incredibly lazy and eats steak while everyone else eats fish. The third counselor is Officer Barney Whitmore (Cliff Brand), whose son Sean was one of Angela's victims at the same camp back when it was still called Camp Rolling Hills. Tracy Griffith, sister of Melanie, co-stars as Marcia; the only nice girl at the camp.

The deaths are numerous and some of them are pretty creative; though the gore make-ups are strictly mediocre. Firecrackers are inserted into nostrils, a head is run over with a lawnmower, a girl is hiked up a flag pole then dropped on her head, someone snorts drain cleaner thinking it's cocaine, arms are ripped off with a jeep, several heads get lopped off and two die simultaneously when a contraption drops from the ceiling and sinks axes into their chests. The film's funniest moment however is when a topless girl streaks out of her tent screaming and immediately gets clubbed over the head with a tree branch. Springsteen even gets to do her own rap song at one point. High art this is not. Brainless entertainment it is.

In 1992, a fourth film (starring Carrie Chambers as Angela) was started but never finished. Scenes from it first ended up as an extra in a Sleepaway Camp "Survival Kit" box set released by Anchor Bay. In 2011, some bozo took the incomplete Part 4's footage, added numerous flashback sequences from the first three films and then released it to an unsuspecting public as Sleepaway Camp IV: The Survivor. The actual "official" fourth film was Return to Sleepaway Camp, which brought back original SC director Robert Hiltzik and stars Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten and Paul DeAngelo. Though it was filmed in 2003, it took five long years for it be released and wasn't worth the wait as the film is absolutely terrible. A sixth film (tentatively titled Sleepaway Camp Reunion) was announced but nothing has happened yet.

Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988)

... aka: Nightmare Vacation II
... aka: Sleepaway Camp 2

Directed by:
Michael A. Simpson

Angela Baker, whom you may recall as the sexually-confused 13-year-old psycho who helped send a handful of bullies to an early grave in the original SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983), has gone through a number of changes since her original summer camp rampage. For starters, she's been locked away in a nuthouse and has been supposedly "cured" (uh huh) of her various psychoses. Secondly, Angela - who was born male but brought up to be a girl by her fruity auntie - has gone through a full-fledged sex change operation so that now her outsides match her insides. Third, she's ditched her familiar surname in favor of the less suspicious "Johnson" so that she's able to ingratiate herself back into society unnoticed. And finally, she's a completely different person; not just because she used to be shy and barely said a word and is now chipper, chatty and outgoing, but because she's played by a completely different actress. Because original Camp star Felissa Rose was busy in college at the time, Pamela Springsteen (sister of rocker Bruce), was drafted to play the role. It turned out to be a wise casting choice as this follow-up to the serious original opts for an over-the-top silly / campy approach; something Springsteen proves to be very adept at.

Angela has snagged a job as a counselor at Camp Rolling Hills, which isn't too far from Camp Arawak where the original string of grisly murders took place years earlier. Because of the name (and sex) change, no one is aware that this Angela is the same Angela responsible for the Arawak slayings who'd been dubbed "The Angel of Death" by the press. Apparently her psychiatric treatments have failed her because she's soon back to her old ways. Have sex, flash your tits, orchestrate a panty raid, use profanity, drink or do drugs, try to scare the others, have a nasty attitude or misbehave in any way? Well then, the uptight Angela will just send you home. And by send you home, I mean murder you and then pretend she sent you home. She begins to trim the roster of campers one-by-one, first starting with a pair of stoner sisters who are busted drinking, smoking weed, having sex and defiling Angela's precious Happy Camper Song all at once. She ties both of them up, covers them with gasoline and then burns them alive.

Others are killed off in quick succession in a variety of different ways (stabbings, decapitation, strangling, etc.) followed by a cheesy Angela one-liner. One girl gets it with a large portable drill and another scene spoofs Friday the 13th (1980), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) all at once by making use of a machete, a chainsaw and Freddy's razor glove. Undoubtedly, the most memorable scene in the entire film is when Angela drowns queen bitch / slut Ally (Valerie Hartman) in an outhouse toilet full of leeches.

Renee Estevez (daughter of Martin Sheen and sister of Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez) plays Molly; the lone sweet / shy girl at camp who Angela takes a liking to. Veteran British character actor Walter Gotell, who'd acted for Hitchcock and in several Hammer Studios productions and James Bond films, strangely shows up playing camp owner Uncle John. Brian Patrick Clarke is a counselor with a mullet and short-shorts and Carol Chambers (who may be related to Carrie Chambers, who got to play Angela in the unfinished Sleepaway Camp IV) is one of the victims. The requisite T&A is provided by both Hartman and former soap opera Susan Marie Snyder. Most of the characters are named after popular 80s "Brat Pack" actors.

Part 2 was filmed back-to-back with SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND (1989) in Georgia. They, along with the original and footage from the unreleased Part 4 were included in a box set from Anchor Bay. The embarrassingly awful Return to Sleepaway Camp (which brought back original director Robert Hiltzik and stars Rose, Jonathan Tiersten and Paul DeAngelo) was filmed in late 2003 but wasn't released until 2008. There are supposedly plans for another but nothing's happened yet.

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