Starring: Pamela Springsteen, Tracy Griffith, Michael J Pollard, Mark Oliver
CINDY – “Why are you doing this to me?”
ANGELA – “Because you’re a cheerleader, a fornicator, a drug taker, a nasty snotty bigot… and besides that, you’re real nice.”
Here’s some advice. If you’re ever at a pub quiz and one of the questions is “what do Sleepaway Camp and Back To The Future have in common?”, your response should be two sentences.
The first: “That’s a pretty fucking obscure film to be bringing up in a pub quiz, considering the public in general aren’t familiar with the Sleepaway Camp series.”
The second: “Nevertheless, the answer to your niche question is that both had their second and third movies shot back-to-back.”
Yes, just as Back To The Future Part 2 and Part 3 were filmed in one go then released as separate films, shooting on Sleepaway Camp III started almost immediately after its predecessor Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers wrapped.
It should come as no surprise then that lead actress Pamela ‘Bruce’s Sister’ Springsteen returns to play killer Angela Baker again in the third film, nor should it shock you that it’s directed by the same chap and is, by and large, similar to the second movie.
This time the movie opens with Angela killing an underprivileged teenager and stealing her place at Camp New Horizons, a council-funded camp designed to bridge gaps between troublesome, poor teens and snotty rich kids.
As you’d expect, attempts to make gang members and hooligans interact with upper-class toffs don’t work too well, with abuse inevitable. And, being the moral soul she is, Angela doesn’t take too kindly to that sort of bad behaviour. Time to get killing then!
Despite the slight change in plot, Sleepaway Camp 3 still feels very much like an extension of the second film. Ample nudity and cheesy one-liners remain the order of the day, and Angela continues to lecture her victims on their behaviour while she’s butchering them in increasingly original ways.
Not that you get to see much of them this time, mind. Whereas the second film more or less escaped any cuts, almost every death in Sleepaway Camp 3 was butchered by the MPAA in America. Thankfully, these deaths are all reinstated on the DVD version by Anchor Bay, though sadly they’re only available to watch as a bonus feature rather than integrated back into the film.
It’s a shame, because there are some fairly inventive slaughterings in there. One victim is hit by a truck and stuffed into a trash compactor, another is run over by a lawnmower, while another is handcuffed then tied to a tree which then drives off, ripping their arms out of their sockets.
Then there’s the infamous scene where a girl is hoisted up on a flagpole then dropped, landing on her head. All grim, but all censored.
It’s clear a fun time was had coming up with the various deaths and executing them (pun very much intended) with the limited budget available, so it’s disappointing that most of the ‘money shots’ were removed.
To some though, the dialogue may actually be more shocking than the deaths. There’s a lot of casual racism in the script, uttered by both rich and poor characters.
One of the gang kids tells another, a hispanic, to “suck my dick, spic”. Meanwhile, when one of the rich girls tells her friend she’s attracted to one of the down-and-outs, she sneers and replies “ew, but he’s Mexican”. It may be realistic, and it may be trying to get the message across that racism is ugly no matter what your social status is, but it’s still awkward to watch.
This aside, Sleepaway Camp III is entertaining enough, even though it’s all but a carbon copy of the second film. Someone does something morally dubious that pisses off Angela, she kills them in a gruesome way with a snarky one-liner, repeat to fade until one person’s left.
Inevitably, this means my advice is fairly dull. Watch Sleepaway Camp II first. If you enjoyed it and you want more of the same, then you know what to do. If it wasn’t your mug of joe, stay away from the third film because there’s nothing new here (other than the odd racist jibe) that will change your mind.
HOW CAN I SEE IT?
Forgive me for being lazy but the Sleepaway Camp III situation is exactly the same as that of the second film, so I’m going to take part in a bit of copying and pasting. Hooray!
Sleepaway Camp III is available on standalone DVD from Anchor Bay. Here’s the UK version and here’s the US version (word of advice, though: the UK version is out of print so buy a much cheaper used copy instead).
However, I’d recommend you buy it as part of the Sleepaway Camp Trilogy DVD box set, which also includes the fantastic Sleepaway Camp and the equally silly Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers. Here’s the UK version and here’s the US version. Again, buy used.
There’s no Blu-ray version at the moment but an HD print does exist since it’s been shown in 720p on American television, so if you’re a high-def nut it might be worth holding back to see if it gets the Blu-ray treatment one day.
SHOW ME THE TRAILER: