Wednesday, March 30, 2005

SATAN'S CHEERLEADERS

Everybody loves cheerleaders. Short skirts, white socks, big, bouncing pom poms… what’s not to like? Even the Prince of Darkness isn’t immune to their sexy-but-innocent charms.

Witness SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS (1977), a choice slice of Seventies drive-in cheese, wherein a cast of young nubile pep squaders bring it on for the horned one, while sharing screen time with down-on-their-luck Hollywood veterans John Ireland, Yvonne DeCarlo and John Carradine.

The movie starts out like any other Carter-era teen comedy, with the wanton, wisecracking cheerleaders fraternizing with the dumb jock football players and trading witty repartee (and water balloons) with the rival school’s pep squad. The rest of the ingredients are there, too: the ambitious football coach, the steamy locker room shower scene, the na├»ve ladies’ gym teacher, and the stock-issue leering, creepy janitor.

But, see… this creepy janitor’s part of a small town Satanic cult. He’s had it with all the teenage titillation, teasing and taunting, and by damn, those tramps are gonna pay!

SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS, directed and co-written by Greydon Clark, and shot by future Academy Award nominee/A-list cinematographer Dean Cundey (HALLOWEEN, BACK TO THE FUTURE, JURASSIC PARK) is a goofy, campy (deliberately so) drive-in delight, that despite its exploitive title and subject matter, is surprisingly good natured. Everyone involved seems to have been having a good time (except perhaps, Carradine, relegated to another of his trademarked "crazy old man" cameos), there’s virtually no onscreen violence, and only a little nudity.

Now, that may sound like a negative for a movie like this, and if you go into it expecting lots of gore and gratuitous breastage, you’re going to be disappointed. What the flick does have, however, is a genuine sense of humor and an offbeat charm. All the girls are appealing and sexy, and you won’t help laughing at the jokes and lame innuendoes.

VCI’s presentation of SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS is just adequate, with a grainy full-frame transfer littered with dirt and scratches. Nothing that distracts too seriously from the film, but it’s far from a reference quality transfer. The mono sound is clear, but that’s it. The only extras on the disc are a trailer for the movie (but I’m betting it’s not the theatrical one – it looks like it was cut together for video) and another for the 1977 Piper Laurie thriller RUBY. The packaging also claims that the movie is rated R, but I’m betting it was originally PG.

But regardless of the lackluster presentation, I liked it a lot and recommend it highly. It’s a fun B-movie, well worth checking out.

BUY: Satan's Cheerleaders