Betsy Russell - Alison Wentworth
Leif Garrett - Brent Hoover
Lucinda Dickey - Cory Foster
Lorrie Griffin - Bonnie Reed
George "Buck" Flower - Pop
Travis McKenna - Timmy Moser
Teri Weigel - Pam Bently
Rebecca Ferratti - Theresa Salazar
Vickie Benson - Miss Tipton
Genre - Horror/Slasher/Comedy/Cult
Running Time - 89 Minutes
Score - 1 Howl Outta 4
I think it's safe to say that most high school males wanted to date a cheerleader in High School. Was it the uniform? The high kicks and splits in their mini-skirts? The fact that they can spell with such enthusiasm? Or maybe it was because they were usually bitchy and so self-absorbed that you wanted to bang their bad attitude out of them?
Nah, it was the splits. I dig flexible ladies. Grrrrroooowwwllll...
Anyway, cheerleading may look easy but it's definitely a lot of work. The splits, the flips and cartwheels, and building those human pyramids must take a ton of practice to perfect. Some squads even go to special camps to make sure they're the best cheerleaders they can be. Just like in other sports, being a cheerleader can be a lot of pressure.
It doesn't help if there's some killer on the loose killing cheerleaders for whatever reason. It doesn't help CHEERLEADER CAMP either, as a cheesy premise just isn't cheesy or funny enough to cheer a whole hell about.
Give me a W!
Give me a T!
Give me an F!
Give me a VAULT! Because that's where CHEERLEADER CAMP is going! Yeah!!
Alison (Betsy Russell) and her cheerleading gang [the boyfriend (Leif Garrett), the jealous bitch (Teri Weigel), her best friend (Rebecca Ferratti), the mascot (Lucinda Dickey) and some fat dude (Travis McKenna)] head to a cheerleading camp for some sort of competition, although I didn't see Kirsten Dunst, Gabrielle Union, or Eliza Dushku anywhere here. Anyway, Alison has issues - MAJOR issues. Her boyfriend flirts with other girls in front of her, members of her squad want to take her spot, and she has these nightmares of her killing people and seeing her boyfriend screw other girls. It doesn't help that the camp's headmistress (Vicki Benson) has a stick [or the sheriff's penis] up her ass and thwarts any positivity Alison's group seems to hold on to. All this pressure - what's a hot, crazy girl to do?
Before she can answer that, people end up dead at the camp. Strangely enough, they all seem to be adversaries of Alison. Are Alison's dreams fantasy or reality? Did Leif Garrett actually rap with a straight face? Why am I watching this again? Oh yeah. I'm a masochist with a bloody pom pom. Hooray.
I have three words for CHEERLEADER CAMP:
WHAT THE FUCK!?
CHEERLEADER CAMP has all the ingredients to be a good B-horror movie. It has hot girls. It has nudity. The acting isn't all that great. And the murder scenes are pretty cheesy. Unfortunately, CHEERLEADER CAMP doesn't do enough with what it has. It pretty much meanders incoherently until its "twist" ending. This film isn't all that funny. It's not even campy [pun intended]. It takes itself too seriously at times. CHEERLEADER CAMP is truly a disappointment.
The story for CHEERLEADER CAMP is pretty non-existent. Yeah, 80s horror films aren't usually known for their strong narratives, but at least you understand how the sub-plots connect together to make a fluid movie. CHEERLEADER CAMP doesn't even manage to do that. We have Alison's nightmares, which are supposed to make her look like the killer. She blacks out, has mood swings, and gives people dirty looks as red herrings to the real killer. And the film doesn't even hide this fact because she's with the other characters when the murders take place. What's the point then? Also, she takes pills for these nightmares. Are we ever told why? Nope! I had no idea if she was schizo or bipolar or just a fuckin' pill-popping jealous twit! I don't need to know the full extent of her mental and medical history, but a simple answer would have been nice!
Another sub-plot that made no sense was the headmistress acting like a bitch to Alison and her friends. What exactly did she have against them from the start? How in the hell should I know! It's never explained once. Sure, she could have been just a major bitch. But she was actually pleasant to the other squads. I guess the 'tude had to give the killer a motive, but it seemed like it came out of nowhere.
It doesn't help that the characters are either annoying or unsympathetic. Alison is a mental case for the most of the film and I could care less what she was going through because I had NO IDEA what she was going through. Her dreams did make me chuckle a few times though. Her boyfriend, Brent, is a cheating prick who looks too old to be part of some high school cheerleading squad. This dude flirted with girls in front Alison, made out with the bitchy Pam in front of Alison, and then wanted to have like a gangbang with the surviving girls after thinking the killer was dead. I normally would applaud that type of behavior. But since it wasn't me, he's a dick! And Timmy, who decides to film himself PEEING while the killer is after him just made me scratch my head. He was supposed to be the comic relief, but he brought neither comedy or relief. What a waste of paper and ink.
And then everyone else was either stupid, clingy, perverted over the borderline, and bitchy. The only character I liked was Corey, the mascot, because she actually seemed normal even when she was the outcast of the group. She did show up at the most convenient and coincidental times though with her hidden teleportation powers. But the only people who can teleport like in horror movies are... Nah, I won't even go there. But when characters act one way and then start acting another for no visible reason, it just makes me want to stop watching.
I will say that the killer in the film is highly predictable. Hell, the narrative tries to "fool" you but the lack of cohesion makes the culprit very obvious. I wasn't surprised by the twist, even though I did get the motive wrong. I guess my loins were thinking louder than my brain at that point, but it's not like the filmmakers were trying to sway away from this unintentional sub-plot.
The nudity in the film was disappointing. For a film obviously inspired by MEATBALLS and PORKY'S mixed with FRIDAY THE 13TH, there just wasn't enough sex humor or nudity to compensate for the lackluster filmmaking. Sure there are girls in bras, panties, lingerie, bikinis, and the occasional boob and ass shots. But when the fat guy's ass gets more screen time than any of the female nudity, we have a problem here. If you're gonna be gratuitous, be gratuitous! Don't show it and quickly take it away. It's called being a tease and no one likes a tease. Boo to you, CHEERLEADER CAMP!
I did, however, enjoy the gore FX here. They're pretty graphic and actually pretty cool for the most part. The garden shears one through the cheerleader's head and out of her mouth was probably my favorite. And it didn't even look amateurish, which impressed me. I also liked the scythe kill as well. And the van kill and the meat cleaver kill were cool too. CHEERLEADER CAMP's strength were in the murder sequences. If the rest of the film was as good as this department, it would be a decent watch.
The direction by John Quinn was meh. I thought the editing was pretty bad, especially with the Corey character. She was like everywhere at once in such a short amount of time. And it just ruined certain scenes because there wasn't enough time given to build tension and suspense [which by the way this film does not have]. The dream sequences and the murder scenes are shot well though, so it's not all bad. But it's pretty much a "point and shoot" affair with some drops of style mixed in. Nothing to write home about here.
The acting is horrible, but I was expecting that from a film like this. Betsy Russell is a nice looking woman, but her acting here was worse than bad - it was lazy, uninspired, and boring. She just looked tired and didn't even seem she wanted to be in this movie. I probably would have given the film a higher score if she was having fun with the part. But Russell just goes through the motions here. Kind of sad actually. Leif Garrett, washed up teen idol, at least has fun here. He's not actually a bad actor either, playing a sex-crazed dickhead perfectly. I actually liked him here. George "Buck" Flower, who's been in a lot of cult films, does well as the perverted crazy old guy trying to protect the cheerleaders while looking up their dresses. Lucinda Dickey was very good as the mascot, Corey. She had the most believable performance in my opinion. Teri Weigel, who later became a porn star after this, does okay as the bitchy Pam. She has a great rack, I gotta say.
I also gotta mention the rap by Leif Garrett and Travis McKenna. It's either really bad or really brilliant. I'm not sure which, to be honest with you. And there's a rock band during the middle of the film that doesn't even lip synch to the song playing, mouthing different lyrics visibly. I couldn't help but laugh. Wow...
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WISHING I COULD HAVE LIVED WITHOUT SEEING LEIF GARRETT STUFF HIS TIGHTY WHITIES...UGH...
- Alison's cheer went like this: "Lean to the left, lean to the right, stand up, sit down...that's not right." Is this supposed to liven up the team and crowd? Or give me naughty thoughts? Whatever the case, she can sit on top of my pyramid anytime!
- Timmy took his pants off in front of the cheerleaders to show them his butt. He proved that the moon is indeed made of cheese...and cellulite.
- "There's something eating at everyone." Isn't that the first rule in the porn industry?
- The local sheriff was gawking at the cheerleaders from afar, claiming he was on duty. Obviously since his "stake" was "out".
- Alison saw her face covered in blood while looking in the mirror. Either she had a really bad facial cut, or she ran out of tampons and used her hands during her time of the month before touching her face. For my sake, I hope it's the first...
- Miss Tipton and the Sheriff roleplayed as cheerleader and football player, leading to a very quick game where he scored a touchdown. I guess he didn't have enough stamina to go for the extra point.
- Pam got impaled in the back of the head with shears, which happened to come out of her mouth. It's just like what she does to impress boys, but in reverse.
- Alison had an episode when she saw a chicken mascot dancing. Well a giant cock will do that to some girls.
- Theresa, running away from a van, stopped in front of a tree and screamed hoping that would save her. While women find giant pieces of wood pleasurable, anything that pistons into a forest is gonna make the forest bleed.
- While there's a killer on the loose, Timmy films himself taking a playful leak. Obesity not only causes heart disease and diabetes, but massive stupidity as well.
- The Sheriff was murdered by a booby trap. I had no idea pigs could die in bear traps.
THE FINAL HOWL
I knew CHEERLEADER CAMP wouldn't be a masterpiece, but how can one refuse to watch a film with a cool cover like that? That's a work of art right there! Unfortunately the actual film itself can't match up to the cover's standards. CHEERLEADER CAMP isn't good enough for slasher standards and it's not bad enough to be good fun. Decent kills, decent boobs, and a nice twist ending can't save this mess. I usually love movies like this, but CHEERLEADER CAMP doesn't raise my film morale at all. I'm sending it and its pom poms to the WTF? Vault where it can C-H-E-E-R to its heart's content.