cheerleader camp | john quinn | david lee fein | r.l. o'keefe | betsy russell | leif garrett | lucinda dickey | slasher | giallo | comedy | thriller | united states | japan | lorie griffin | george 'buck' flower | travis mckenna | teri weigel | rebecca ferratti
Film: Cheerleader Camp
Director: John Quinn
Writer: David Lee Fein and R.L. O’Keefe
Starring: Betsy Russell, Leif Garrett and Lucinda Dickey
This was a movie that I actually remember seeing at the video store growing up, but it never hooked me enough to rent. Mind you, I was probably avoiding renting it knowing that my father probably would veto this one, as blood and gore wasn’t an issue, but nudity kind of was back when I would have possible checked this out. I know I heard about this on podcasts, but it had been awhile since then and didn’t remember much. The synopsis here is a group of cheerleaders become the targets of an unknown killer at remote summer camp.
We start this movie off during what I could clearly tell was a nightmare from the beginning. Alison Wentworth (Betsy Russell) is trying to find her locker in a dark, empty room and we hear the P.A. announcer calling out they’re waiting. This voice is doing this over and over. She goes up to the football field to do a cheer, but keeps getting it wrong. The issue is that it is only her mother and father in the crowd. They leave and she calls out that she just wants love. She is then cut from her pom-poms on her forearms.
She then wakes up screaming. She is actually in a van with the rest of her cheer squad. Her boyfriend is driving, Brent Hoover (Leif Garrett) with his best friend Timmy Moser (Travis McKenna) riding shotgun. He’s overweight and kind of a pervert. Also on the team are the mascot, Cory Foster (Lucinda Dickey), the ditzy blonde Bonnie Reed (Lorie Griffin), the beautiful, yet slutty Pamela Bently (Teri Weigel) and then her best friend Theresa Salazar (Rebecca Ferratti). It is common knowledge that Alison is the favorite to win queen at the cheerleading camp this year, but the problem is that she is mentally unstable and everyone knows about her nightmares.
They arrive and get checked in by Miss Tipton (Vickie Benson). The group sizes up their competition, which includes Suzy (Krista Pflanzer). Alison also has competition on her own squad as Brent is looking to hook up with Suzy or whoever will, as Alison is shutting him down. Pamela also wants what she has. The only true friend she has is Cory, but Alison isn’t the nicest to her.
Things take the dark turn when Suzy is found dead in her room by Alison. The thought is that she killed herself, but Alison isn’t so sure. She also doesn’t trust Miss Tipton or her two helpers, the caretaker of the camp Pop (George ‘Buck’ Flower) or Chief Ronnie (William Johnson). What really happened to Alison and will it happen again?
Now this movie is kind of intriguing to me. This is at the tail end of the slasher boom, where they were starting to use more comedy in them. I would say for this movie, it harkens back more to the slashers when they were like giallo films in the regards that we don’t who the killer is at first and it is kind of sleazy.
I wasn’t surprised digging into this movie that John Quinn would go on to do softcore porn you’d find on things like HBO or Cinemax, as this feels like a rauchy sex comedy that has giallo elements. That is where a lot of the sleaze comes from as well. Timmy is a perv, dressing up like a woman to see girls naked, peeping through the window to see Miss Tipton with Sheriff Poucher (Jeff Prettyman). The sheriff and Pop are looking at these high school girls and it is pretty misogynistic if I’m going to be honest. I won’t come down too hard as this is the 80’s, but it did make me feel a bit uncomfortable, since they are much older than the girls they’re ogling.
With that out of the way, I didn’t mind the mystery of the movie. We have Alison who has nightmares and thinks that she killed Suzy. No one else does, but she keeps having these odd dreams. When others start to go missing, she knows something happened. What I like though is the reveal, especially with how they do it. The problem is that they take too long to get us there in my opinion. The first death we don’t get to see, we just see the aftermath to it. We don’t go back to this until a little over halfway through. I think this is a misstep in my eyes, because I was bored. The jokes weren’t really landing and the nudity only goes so far to be honest.
Once we do get the deaths though, they are fine. There’s a death with a hedge-clipper through the mouth that I liked. That is really about it though. The rest from what I remember are done off-screen. We get to see the aftermath is it. The blood is a bit too red as well. Since they went practical though, I’ll let that slide. We also get a lot of dream sequences, which I’ll also let slide. It is part of the story and it leads to Alison going crazy until we see the truth. The cinematography is fine. We do get to see the killer point of view shots, which helps with that slasher feel.
The last thing to cover here would be the acting. It was fun to see a young Russell as I really only know her from the Saw series. She is quite attractive and her performance is fine. It was funny to see Garrett in this movie as I know he was a teen star and really fell from grace. I didn’t like his character, along with Flower, McKenna, Prettyman and Johnson. They’re all quite misogynistic and really look at the women like objects. There isn’t much redeemable for me to like them aside from Flower just being a great character actor. I thought Dickey and Griffin play their roles fine. It is interesting to see Weigel, who I know went on to do porn from here. Makes sense why she goes topless along with a former Penthouse pet in Pflanzer. The acting though is really just subpar in general.
Now with that said, this movie does have some interesting aspects, but it just doesn’t really work. I like the mystery they were working with, even though I predicted the reveal within the first 20 minutes. This does bring that sleazy feel you get from slashers or giallo films, which I do have a bit of a soft spot for. The acting though is subpar, it is boring and just plays like a not very good rauchy sex comedy. The deaths are mostly off screen and that is a shame. The soundtrack also didn’t really stand out, but it doesn’t hurt the movie either. I’d say this is below average unfortunately and can only recommend this if you liked it from back in the day or just want something wild to laugh to with drinks personally.
My Rating: 4 out of 10