Sunday 21 October 2007

Cheerleader Massacre

Well, that’ll teach me. You play with fire often enough and eventually you get burned... Or, in this case, you get slowly roasted to death, as flaming hot pokers thrust themselves in and out of your eye sockets, and burning embers become lodged underneath your fingernails in most uncomfortable fashion. Yessiree, I’ve made one too many trips to the Grindhouse with this one.

Cheerleader Massacre is possibly-officially the fourth film in the Slumber Party Massacre series. How can this be? you fret. It features no slumber party... not even the merest hint of a topless pillow-fight. Well, if you remember, Part 2 was only linked to the original by the tenuous suggestion that its main character was the sister of Part 1’s heroine. And Part 3 wasn’t linked at all, although it did at least centre around a slumber party. Cheerleader Massacre boasts a cameo appearance from Part 1’s Brinke Stevens, ostensibly playing the same character, “Linda”. Flashbacks cobbled together from old clips reveal that “Linda” – assumed perforated to pieces in The Slumber Party Massacre – actually survived her ordeal and has been living with the scars ever since. However, since liberties have been taken with the name of the killer – changed from the original Russ Thorn (scary!) to Jeremiah McPherson (terrifying!) – it’s perhaps up to you how seriously you want to take this new information. Personally, I’d suggest not taking anything in Cheerleader Massacre seriously. In fact, I’d suggest not watching it.

After the obligatory lovemaking-kids-killed-in-the-woods opening, we’re introduced to the Bridgemont High cheerleading squad, happily practising their latest routine in jeans and blouses (what, you expect a film like this to pay for a luxury like costumes?). In comes their coach, Miss Hendricks, to tell them that they have fifteen minutes to shower and get on the bus. Naturally, we follow them into the showers, where the camera lingers lustfully over their soapy buttocks (another bit of continuity with the original there). The whole scene does drag on a bit, though… I mean, these girls only have fifteen minutes to get ready. Give them a break!

Eventually, it’s enough with the nudity and time for some killin’ – and here’s where I really began to worry. The following scene is such nonsense that it’s clear once and for all that Cheerleader Massacre is far more concerned with t&a than s&s (that’s stalk and slash). One cheerleader, Dina, is separated from the pack and finds herself all alone in the spooky locker room. A POV shot from behind some lockers suggests she’s being stalked by an observer close by. Suddenly, the lights go off – apparently a clue to Dina that she’s about to be killed because she instantly dives behind a bank of lockers. Peering out, she sees a scary-looking shadow on the wall at the other end of the enormous room. Then, a shower jet bursts on behind her. (Obviously, the killer has some kind of remote control.) Dina slips into a storeroom area, where a hand clamps around her mouth from behind and she’s dragged away. Cut to the shower slowly switching itself off... Either there are about three different killers, all hiding in different parts of the locker room (with one controlling the showers) or this scene makes absolutely no sense. I suspect the latter.

The last we see of Dina is her feet beneath a toilet stall door as blood drips onto her shoes. I say “drips” but it’s actually more like “squirts”... Seriously, I don’t know what’s going on behind that door but the blood is squirting downwards in a very directional flow, as if from a hosepipe. If you’ve seen that other another t&a slasher travesty Sorority House Massacre II (in which you could often see the shadow of the squeezy-bottle used whenever splashing blood was required) this should be enough to clue you in that the director here is again Jim Wynorski. Having watched his enjoyable-enough 976-EVIL II recently, I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, but never again, Mr Wynorski... never again!

There’s a few more deaths, one involving a rope bridge, which produced the only moment of suspense I experienced while watching the film: as the killer cuts through one of the ropes holding the bridge in place, I wondered if we’d actually get to see it collapse... Of course, we don’t. That would have involved a budget. Instead, the actress shakes the bridge as much as possible until a blurry camera pan simulates her fall.

It all ends up with the cheerleaders trapped in a snowbound cabin while the killer prowls the woods outside. It’s here that the film’s key scene is played out: a three-way naked hot-tub session in which the girls pour bottles of Hershey’s chocolate syrup over themselves (again with the squeezy-bottles!). This might have sounded like a sexy scene on paper but, in reality, it’s so gross I almost couldn’t watch. Quite frankly, nothing that turns your bathwater brown is good clean fun in my book.

I did enjoy a few snippets of the script, however:

Cop: I knew today was gonna suck when we got those stale donuts.

Generic cheerleader 1: This is so bad... No gas, no food...
Generic cheerleader 2: And they still haven’t caught that killer yet!

Cop 1: This is gonna be a long day.
Cop 2: Yeah, except for one thing... It isn’t day anymore.

Cheerleader (searching cabin): I couldn’t find a phone – but there’s plenty of games to play!

Other than those, I can’t find a single basis on which to recommend Cheerleader Massacre. It’s as bad as cheap exploitation gets, and a far cry from the witty and well made Slumber Party Massacre trilogy with which it’s feebly linked. I think I'll be staying away from the Grindhouse for a while!
Rating: 1/5


Tower Farm said...

Wow. I am really embarrassed. I recently posted on this movie and use a hell of a lot of the same references that you used back in October of 2007. I promise I just found your site this week and only read this review today!

I agree with you on this stuff. The Slumber Party movies are the best of these. I, in particular, really like part 3.


Ross Horsley said...

Don't worry! I'm sure any sane person would notice the same bits of idiocy in this movie. SPM3 is excellent, agreed.