Why make one sequel when you make two? This option was part of the contract when sequels’ producers optioned the Sleepaway Camp sequel rights and they moved fast to take advantage: Sleepaway Camp III was written while Sleepaway Camp II was shooting and the filmmakers were told to start prepping the second sequel only a weekend after they wrapped the first. The third film doesn’t have the thrill of reinvention that made Sleepaway Camp II so amusing but it still has a few camper-slashing tricks up its sleeve.
Sleepaway Camp III begins with outdoors-loving slasher Angela (Pamela Springsteen) bumping off a camper on her way to a camp and assuming her identity. The new camp has the novel idea of mixing uptown kids with disadvantaged kids under the tutelage of a couple of lackadaisical counselors (one of whom is Michael J. Pollard!). Angela isn’t thrilled about the stepdown from counselor to camper and is quickly annoyed by counselors and fellow campers alike. She wastes no time in picking them off and the only hopes for the ever-shrinking population lie in nice girl Marcia (Tracy Griffith), tough guy Tony (Mark Oliver) and a cop (Cliff Barnes) with tragic ties to the events of Sleepaway Camp II.
Sleepaway Camp III leans on the formula established by the first film: namely, a darkly comic approach to the stalk-and-slash formula spiced up with some T&A. Thankfully, the novelty of having your slasher be a moralistic female antihero remains a fun conceit, particularly with Springsteen’s deadpan humor fuelling it. Screenwriter Fritz Gordon comes up with some fun murder setpieces and director Michael Simpson gives it all a snappy pace, bringing the whole thing in at just under 80 minutes.
There are some amusingly nasty campers for Angela to bump off, particularly a racist southern belle effectively played by Kim Wall, and there’s a typically eccentric, scene-stealing performance from Pollard as a hilariously sleazy counselor. The final girl character isn’t as strong this time but the vengeful cop is an interesting addition and is played convincingly by Barnes.
In short, Sleepaway Camp III is essentially more of the same — but the “same” in this case is quirky body-count fun that delivers the goods and throws in some smutty humor as a bonus. If you liked Sleepaway Camp II, there’s no harm in going in for one more helping.
Blu-Ray Notes: As with Sleepaway Camp II, this film has just been treated to a “Collector’s Edition” blu-ray/DVD combo release from Scream Factory. The MGM-sourced transfer comes from a nice, clean-looking element and offers a nice little boost in color and clarity on the blu-ray. A lossless presentation of the vintage mono track is used on the blu-ray and offers a solid mix with no distortion.
Slasher fans have plenty of extras to sift through on this set. An audio commentary with Simpson, Gordon and moderator John Klyza is carried over from the old Anchor Bay DVD. It’s a smoother track than the one on Sleepaway Camp II, with a more consistent mix of banter between the participants. Simpson and Gordon talk about the challenges of the quick turn-around for the sequel and the hassles of dealing with the MPAA. Klyza props them up with plenty of trivia, including some interesting questions about how certain setpieces were changed due to budget woes.
A new featurette has been created for this set, entitled “A Tale Of Two Sequels, Part 2.” Simpson and Gordon return for this featurette along with key crew members and cast members like Oliver and Wall. You’ll learn why so much of the film involves daylight situations, more detail on the film’s troubles with the MPAA and some fun stories about Michael J. Pollard.
Next up is nine minutes of behind-the-scenes footage narrated by Simpson: it’s all drawn from the shoot for the pre-titles sequence involving the truck stunt. The full workprint of the film is included from a full-frame analog source that includes all the snips of gore removed from the final version. If you don’t want to sit through that, the producers also thoughtfully include a deleted scenes segment that strings together all the setpieces from the same video source.
Elsewhere, a home video trailer offers a fast-paced, bloody sampling of the film’s highlights. A short fan film called “Tony Lives” brings Oliver back to show his character dealing with a nosy reporter several years later. A still gallery rounds things out, serving up almost fifty images’ worth of stills, behind-the-scenes shots and promo materials.
All in all, this is another treat for slasher fans from Scream Factory a nice way for them to collect the Sleepaway Camp trilogy in high-def form.