Filmed back-to-back with the kind-of, sort-of Sleepaway Camp sequel, Unhappy Campers, comes Teenage Wasteland. This is the third and final entry in the true Sleepaway Camp timeline, but there still has been plenty of unofficial sequels and spin-offs from the original movie. More about that some other day.
Feeling optimism and inspiration and, frankly, hubris during the filming of Unhappy Campers, the writing team decided to jump straight into a third script. The chutzpah paid off, and Teenage Wasteland started filming even before its predecessor had hit the theaters.
Unhappy Campers was objectively a bonkers movie, teetering on becoming a parody of Sleepaway Camp. Yet, it did work. At least in a sense. As far as being a horror-comedy, I don’t feel like it was a million miles away from Scream, albeit with significantly lower production values.
This third entry opens with Angela (Pamela Springsteen, once again killing it (no pun intended)) stealing a garbage truck with which she plows down a camp-bound troubled teen. With her new stolen identity, Angela heads to Camp New Horizons, where
high-class teens are supposed to mold inner-city kids into productive members of society. I get the distinct impression that the writers didn’t spend much time on the story during their mid-shoot writing sessions.
It’s all a setup, of course, for Angela to start killing again. Rich, poor, good, bad, it doesn’t matter. Campers and counselors alike feel Angela’s wrath. For all intents and purposes, Teenage Wasteland is a remake of Unhappy Campers and also an entirely unnecessary movie. But! It’s still fun. For god’s sake, you get to hear Angela rap.
That’s worth at least something.
I’m not sure the humor would have succeeded was it not for Springsteen, whose timing and mannerisms are spot-on.
That’s about what Teenage Wasteland has to offer. If you enjoyed Unhappy Campers, you will probably get a kick out of this one, too, particularly seeing it streams for free on pretty much every platform.
The real tragedy is that Springsteen has done preciously little acting over the years. She has instead gone down the photography route and has worked extensively on record covers. (Not surprisingly, brother Bruce Springsteen can be found in her portfolio.) She’s also married to television director Bobby Roth, who, frankly, should feature her more in his work.
As for Sleepaway Camp, there were two more in-name-only sequels produced and halfway released. The character of Angela was featured in some unrelated films, too. Really, though, this was the last of the true Sleepaway Camp movies. Maybe that was for the best, seeing the twist in the first movie was the peak of the franchise.
Still, I can’t help but love all three of them.