Sunday, October 7, 2018

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND (1989) from Scream Factory - October 7, 2018

Starring Pamela Springsteen, Michael J. Pollard, Tracy Griffith, Mark Oliver, Haynes Brooke, Jill Terashita
Written by Fritz Gordon (based on an original idea by Robert Hiltzik)
Cinematography by Bill Mills
Edited by John David Allen
Produced by Stan Wakefield, Michael A. Simpson, Jerry Silva, Robert F. Phillips
Directed by Michael A. Simpson
Originally released by Nelson Entertainment
Released by Scream Factory

Hello again and welcome to Day Seven of Phil's Halloween Horror Watch! Yesterday after watching SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS (if you haven't read my review of the movie yet, shame on you), I decided to watch the follow-up sequel this morning. Nothing like the smell of the open air, birds singing in the trees, and people screaming as they're being killed off. Man, I love camping! So grab you sleeping bags, start eating your S'mores, and gather around the campfire as I tell you all the tale of SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND!

The film's official synopsis: Welcome to Camp New Horizons, where an autumn retreat brings together a group of obnoxious rich kids and surly city thugs for an "experiment in sharing." Under new inept management, this is the ideal setting for notorious psychopath Angela Baker (Pamela Springsteen, SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS) to join the camp and do what she does best – eliminating "immoral" teenagers with everything from a knife to a lawnmower. Michael J. Pollard (HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, BONNIE & CLYDE), Tracy Griffith (FEAR CITY, THE FIRST POWER) and Jill Terashita (NIGHT OF THE DEMONS) co-star in this third installment of the cult series.

After filming wrapped on SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS, director Michael A. Simpson and his crew had only one weekend off before they had to start filming this movie! Believe it or not, they shot both films in just six weeks! What I really loved about the movie was that all the killings took place in the daytime. As a result, you could really see all the practical special effects and they weren't hidden in the shadows of the night. Of course, this didn't please the MPAA, who forced the filmmakers to heavily edited out the gore and bloodshed. This watered down the payoffs and disappointed fans who later learn about what was happening behind the scenes. But the film is still beautifully shot, the cast and crew were amazing, and it looked everyone was having making the movie! Like the last movie, there's a certain level of energy and comradery that can be seen thought the two films, and you can still see it 30 years later.

Original In-Store Promotional Poster (1989)
What I love about the movie was the moving performance of its lead actress Pamela Springsteen. She gives Angela a healthy dose of dark humor like in the last sequel, but here, she really does shine bright. There's one particular scene in the film that really movies me. It's a nice crane shot panning from the sky and moves over the exterior of the mess hall building and we see Angela dragging a big trash bag. She enters through the kitchen as she makes her way into the dining area. She stops and reminisces about being the counselor there, winning the counselor of the month, and receiving a blue ribbon and leads her friends into the song, "I'm a Happy Camper." She looks happy for a moment, then her expression turns to sadness and depression. I found myself totally relating to her. I'm 45 years old, and when I watch this film, and this scene, I find myself drifting back to the past, to when I was a teenager and watching this movie. I remember the house my family and I were living in, I remember being a freshman in high school, the season, the smell from outside, I remember it all. Springsteen really shows off her range as an actress in this scene, and to this day still moves me.

Like the previous installment, the film received a limited theatrical release on August 4, 1989 before being released on VHS by Nelson Entertainment in December that same year. In 2002, Anchor Bay Entertainment released the film on DVD as a stand alone and as part of their SLEEPAWAY CAMP SURVIVAL KIT Boxset. Then on June 9, 2015, Scream Factory (an imprint of Shout! Factory) released a Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Collector's Edition of the movie.

Special features on the discs include Audio Commentary with Director Michael A. Simpson and Writer Fritz Gordon, "A Tale of Two Sequels" – Part Two featuring new interviews with director Michael A. Simpson, cinematographer Bill Mills, actors Mark Oliver and Kim Wall and more, Behind-The-Scenes Footage With Commentary By Michael A. Simpson, Home Video Promotional Trailer, Still Gallery, and (drumroll please) a Workprint Of The Longer Cut Of The Film (From VHS) and Deleted Scenes Featuring Additional Gore Footage Taken From The Workprint! For hardcore fans, this is the closest we'll to what the final film would've look like!

SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND is one of the last great horror film sequels of the 1980's!! The movie is also my favorite of the entire series! To see blood and gore in broad daylight was extraordinary and something we've never really seen before, making the movie stand out amongst the rest of pack! Nearly 30 years later, it has achieved the title of cult classic and so richly deserves it!! This Halloween, take a trip to Camp New Horizons and see what Angela Baker is all about!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND is available in a Blu-Ray/DVD Combo from Scream Factory. To purchase a copy, visit their website at To learn more about the history of the SLEEPAWAY CAMP franchise, visit the film's official website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the horror! 

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