Let banners wave, let flags unfurl, who’s on the scene, it’s Burl, Burl, Burl! Ha ha, I’m here to review another movie for you, just like you like me to do, I hope! This one is called Satan’s Cheerleaders, and it was directed by Graydon Clark, the same fellow who brought us Without Warning and other fine classic films of that ilk! With people like Jack Palance, Martin Landau, Joe Don Baker and John Carradine appearing in his films, it’s safe to say that Mr. Clark has casting skills on the level of Fred Olen Ray! Ha ha! He’s got Carradine and Yvonne De Carlo and John Ireland and Jack Kruschen in this one, so it stacks up pretty well!
Aside from the cast, there are other qualities which stand out in this particular movie! When you appreciate genres and microgenres as purely and specifically as I do, you come to appreciate those films which try to put a foot in more than one genre at once, and Satan’s Cheerleaders is certainly one of these films! It starts out very like The Pom Pom Girls or some other 70s cheerleader spectacular, and at about the halfway mark turns into one of the many satanic movies from that same decade, like The Devil’s Rain or Race With the Devil or The Brotherhood of Satan!
It’s well balanced in its genre-sharing, but of course it’s not as good a cheerleader picture as those Crown International movies or the other similar pictures of the period, and it’s not in the league of those devil movies I mentioned earlier either! But that’s okay, because it’s a special thing all its own!
It seems there are a number of cheerleaders at Baker High, and they’re just as self-centered and mean a bunch as you might ever want to meet! They're pretty nasty to just about everyone! They have a ditzy spin case of a coach and stay pretty busy entertaining the members of the football team! They also tease and make fun of their stammer-prone school janitor, Billy, played by Jack "The War of the Worlds" Kruschen in rhinestone spangles! Billy is a peeping tom, of course, as all such janitors are, but he’s also a Satanist associated with Sheriff John Ireland’s coven!
This group is like a country cuzzin coven to the erudite globetrotters of Rosemary’s Baby, though their devilish mission is less specific! But when the four cheerleaders and the coach fall into their hands, it gains a little focus: it’s virgin sacrifice time! Naturally there’s a snag: these are cheerleaders of the 1970s, so their maidenheads are decidedly on the ragged side! However there is one lady of unexampled purity in the group – ha ha, or there would be, if only that darn sheriff weren’t such a loose-trousered scoundrel! Oh oh, the devil isn't going to like this!
The picture was shot by Dean Cundey, the portly cinematographer of Halloween, Halloween III and Roller Boogie, but it’s not a particularly good-looking movie! It’s okay, but it doesn’t demonstrate the usual eye-pleasing sheen of this talented cameraman! The movie is a bit clunky all around, and suffers also from an underuse of Carradine, who plays a troubling bum with only two scenes! It was apparently rated PG, though there’s some nudity and a violent scene in which Jack Kruschen gets rolled down a hill! And there’s some pretty bad acting from the cheerleaders, the coach and the football players!
Altogether, given that Satan’s Cheerleaders doesn’t quite live up to the potential promised by its exploitation classic title, I’m going to have to give this particular wafer cake one and a half well-concealed peepholes!
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