DirectorMichael A. Simpson
Release Date(s)1989 (June 9, 2015)
Studio(s)MGM (Scream/Shout! Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: A
The Sleepaway Camp series continues with the 1989 follow-up Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland. This time around, there’s no beating around the bush. If you enjoyed aspects of the last film, particularly Angela and her wisecracking before murdering a teenager or two, then you’re bound to like this one as well. It manages to take that premise and crank it up to eleven.
As the New York graffiti that marks the wall behind Angela after she murders a teenager and assumes her identity professes, “Angela is back!” For this installment, the film takes place a year later at Camp New Horizons, which is the same camp as the year before but with new owners. The counselors in this particular camp are experimenting with kids from different social classes and backgrounds in order to teach them to live together in harmony. However, it’s all for nothing as the bodies start piling up quickly after Angela’s arrival.
It’s a good thing that these movies have the word “camp” in their title because both of the original film’s sequels are nothing but. Angela is basically more like Freddy Krueger this time around, punishing the youth and throwing in quips for good measure. The same crew is back, including the writer, director, and cinematographer. Also back is the same stand-in location for the camp as the last film, preserving continuity for a set of films that didn’t necessarily require it all that much. I mean, come on, these films are cheesy and terrible, but we enjoy them because of that. Even if they had shot the film in a different location, it wouldn’t really have mattered in the long run. Don’t get me wrong though, the effort is definitely appreciated.
This was also one of the many horror movies that the MPAA went after heavily in the late 1980’s, and as a consequence, many of the more gruesome moments got slashed. However, it didn’t stop the film from doing dynamite business on home video when it was released, even with the false cover that didn’t feature anything that was actually in the film. Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland is considered by many to be the least of the series, that is if you count the unfinished Sleepaway Camp IV: The Survivor or Return to Sleepaway Camp, neither of which are considered canon by fans. Still, it’s a fun slasher comedy that doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is.
Scream Factory’s Blu-ray presentation of Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland sports a more detail-oriented transfer than that of Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers. The original elements have been lost and this transfer was sourced from an older HD master, but it appears to be much crisper than its counterpart. The grain field is a little more even with much sharper images. It also appears to be cleaner with less dirt on display. Colors and skin tones are just as natural, black levels and shadow details are a little better, and contrast levels are satisfactory. There aren’t any signs of digital tweaking to be found either. For the film’s soundtrack, there’s a single English 2.0 DTS-HD track. Sourced from the original mono, there isn’t much in the way of dynamics, but it’s a soundtrack that suits the film just fine. Dialogue is always clean and clear, and both sound effects, score, and music tracks are mixed in well together. It’s not exactly a flat soundtrack, but there isn’t very much deep bass to it either. All in all, it’s probably the best the film has ever looked and sounded on home video. Subtitles are available in English for those who might need them.
Again, like Sleepaway Camp II, the extras are where this set really shines. There’s an audio commentary with director Michael A. Simpson and writer Fritz Gordon, moderated by John Klyza; the terrific new A Tale of Two Sequels: Part Two documentary; the workprint of the longer cut of the film sourced from a VHS copy; a set of deleted scenes; the film’s home video trailer; the Tony Lives! short film; a still gallery; and a DVD copy of the film. Missing from the original Anchor Bay DVD release are two Easter eggs: a news promo about the film and a promotional poster for Sleepaway Camp IV: The Survivor. Oh, and something that I didn’t mention in the other review, but it’s a shame that Pamela Springsteen chose not to take part in the interviews on these releases. It would be interesting to hear her side of it all these years later.
Overall, Scream Factory’s release of Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland on Blu-ray is half of one of the most enjoyable high definition horror experiences of the year. With a nice transfer and a bevy of fantastic extras, this release (as well as Sleepaway Camp II) is sure to please even die-hard fans of the series.
- Tim Salmons