SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS (1977)
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Horror comedy has a cheer-leading squad and their coach being kidnapped by a group of Satan worshipers. One of the girls will be chosen as his bride and the rest will be used as sacrificial offerings. That’s it in a nutshell.
Exploitation comedy is directed by Greydon Clark (Without Warning) from a script by he and Alvin L. Fast. It’s a goofy flick filled with bad sex jokes, exposed breasts and Satan worshipers who don’t evoke much fear and don’t seem all that competent at evoking Satan either. A lot of the humor falls flat and the flick seems like it’s made up as it goes along and lacks the charm of Clark’s 1980 extraterrestrial cult classic. One wonders if Clark has treated the material more seriously and let the situation itself provide the humor, it would have been more successful at accomplishing it’s goals. The story is ripe for exploitation fun, but it’s the misfiring dirty jokes and goofball humor that don’t click. There is plenty of skin shown by our pom pom wielding heroines, but the villains just don’t evoke much threat for us to feel like our girls are in any real danger, even for a comedy. The last few moments do click, but it took us 90 minutes to get there and the first act is all lame, naughty high school stuff before our girls even find themselves in peril. It’s one of those flicks where a great title is in need of a far better movie and sadly from a director who can deliver the B-movie fun as Without Warning proves.
Clark has a decent cast here. The veterans like John Ireland, Yvonne DeCarlo, Jack Kruschen and John Carradine all perform well and get the tone of the material, even if their cultists are more comical than creepy. The young cast of unknowns are very uneven, but no one really expects acting from a cast probably hired for their looks, especially our young ladies. Kerry Sherman is the one standout, mostly because she shows the most skin and she seems to be the only one to go on to other roles in film and TV.
As much as I love B-movies and exploitation flicks from this era, this one doesn’t live up to the fun of it’s title. Most of the jokes and goofball comedy falls flat and it’s attempts at horror are equally unsuccessful. There is some fun to be had, the nostalgia is certainly present and at least the ladies look good in and out of their uniforms. It still just seems like a bit of a mess and director Clark was far better combining horror and humor a few years later in the cult classic Without Warning. Worth a look for the 70s nostalgia, but not the midnight movie it could have been with a tighter script and maybe playing it a bit more straight.
2 and 1/2 pom poms.
As my last product review did quite well, I’ve decided to premiere my new column… Cool Stuff! Obviously it will be a look at/review of cool genre related items and home media.
WITHOUT WARNING (1980) DVD/Blu-Ray
The folks at Scream Factory have done it again by bringing this hard to find cult classic to DVD and Blu-Ray for the first time ever. This 1980 low budget sci-fi flick (full review here) has been out of reach for decades and Scream Factory has resurrected it in all it’s cheesy fun, 80s glory. The combo DVD/Blu-Ray pack features a remastered print with a really nice package of extras. We get commentary from director Greydon Clark along with all new Scream Factory exclusive interviews with leads Christopher S. Nelson and Tara Nutter, producer Daniel Grodnick, legendary cinematographer Dean Cundey and make-up FX master Greg Cannom. They are all fun recollections about the making of a lost cult classic… and a personal guilty pleasure of mine. Scream Factory always gets some fun and informative interviews out of these people, treating us to an inside look at a film the likes of which would normally not get… but strongly deserves… such star treatment. A lot of enjoyable nostalgia here.
As for the print itself, the film looks as good as it probably ever will. There is some flickering and extra grain in some of the darker scenes. Probably due to flaws in the existing print revealed when those scenes were lightened but, as a film left in a closet somewhere since the 80s, this is probably the best source material available and considering it’s age and the low budget nature of it’s production, it still looks really good and the colors are rich and the image crisp. The sound is clean and very good quality and overall, despite any minor flaws in the source print, this looks far better then one might expect and the overall quality far outweighs those minor anomalies. Another great job by Scream Factory giving a cult classic the respect it deserves. Definitely recommended!
OCULUS (2014) Blu-Ray
Oculus is my favorite horror, so far this year (full review here) and as a big fan of co-writer/director Mike Flanagan too, I eagerly awaited it’s home media release anticipating some cool extras and it didn’t disappoint. The disc comes with commentary from director Flanagan and a nice assortment of deleted scenes, including one with a cameo by Absentia‘s other leading lady Katie Parker (Courtney Bell’s cameo as a auctioneer remains in the final cut). There is a fascinating documentary about the making of the film including interviews with behind the camera talent and gives some cool incites on how the film came to be and how they pulled it off. To add to that, it also includes the full 32 minute short film version of Oculus that the feature film started out as. If you love the film making process as much as the movies, like myself, these are some extras that follow the genesis of how a film is created and brought to life. Very Cool!
As for the movie itself, the print is gorgeous. The disc preserves the rich but, varying color scheme of the film (brighter colors for sequences early on but, more muted and cold as the darker story elements unfold) and the picture is crystal clear. The sound is nice and full and while I don’t have a fancy sound system yet, it sounded great to me. All in all, a really nice presentation of what I believe is one of the best horror flicks of the year, if not in some time. It’s got some really solid extras and the movie itself was just as effective the second time around. Highly recommended.
Deleted scene from Oculus featuring the lovely Katie Parker…