Gimme a K! Gimme an I! Gimme an L! Gimme another L! What’s that spell?
Welcome back to Nightmare on Film Street’s Video Vault, it’s good to see you again. It feels like our visits are getting farther apart each time and quite frankly, it gets me down not seeing your lovely faces as often as I would like. You know, when you’re here and browsing the shelves of the vault, I watch you. I watch and wonder where you’re going after you leave here, who you’ll be with later, where you live,
what it would feel like to wear your skin, what you’ll have for dinner.
Oh hey, look! It’s a copy of John Qunn’s 1988 cult classic Cheerleader Camp! This is just the movie to raise your spirits and maybe help you forget about all that weirdness I just threw out there… So, um, lemme give you the low down on this late 80s slasher.
Back of The Box Review
A group of cheerleaders and their mascots attend a cheerleading camp for some spirited competition and in the meantime become the targets of an unknown killer. As the camp gets underway a young cheerleader is found, wrists slashed in an apparent suicide. Soon though, the suicide begins to look more like murder when more unsuspecting cheerleaders start dropping like flies.
Meet The Cheer Squad
Betsy Russell (Saw, 2004) stars as Alison Wentworth, a moody, insecure cheerleader with a sordid past who seems like she’d rather be anywhere else but at this camp. Leif Garrett (The Outsiders, 1983) plays Brent Hoover, Alison’s douchey boyfriend who isn’t at the camp for thirty seconds when he starts hitting on another girl from a rival cheer squad. Lucinda Dickey (Breakin’,1984) plays the team’s mascot, Cory Foster, a shy girl who desperately wants to befriend troubled Alison. Lorie Griffin (Teen Wolf, 1985) plays Alison’s fellow cheerleader Bonnie Reed, a win at all costs cheerleader type while the late George “Buck” Flower (The Fog, 1980) chews the scenery as Pop, the cantankerous camp caretaker.
Travis McKenna (Twice Dead, 1988) plays Timmy Moser, token funny fat guy while Teri Weigel (Predator 2, 1990) and Rebecca Ferratti (Embrace of the Vampire,1995) respectively play Pam Bently and Theresa Salazar, you guessed it, more cheerleaders who take sunbathing to a whole new level of confidence. Finally, Vickie Benson (The Wraith, 1986) rounds out the main cast as Miss Tipton, the camp director, and resident snob who has a thing for berating mascots and hooking up with the local constabulary.
Cut From The Team
Shot over twenty-four days in Bakersfield, California and at Camp Nelson in Tulare County, California during October of 1987, Cheerleader Camp (originally titled Bloody Pom Poms) was released in a limited capacity on June 1, 1988. The theatrical release was hampered by the distribution company going bankrupt and because of the setback, the film suffered as a result. It wasn’t until it’s home video release on Prism Entertainment VHS that the movie gained a fanbase. Regardless of the film’s abysmal theatrical chaos, Cheerleader Camp almost had a sequel. It would become an unrelated direct-to-video release from 1991 titled Camp Fear, with Betsy Russell, playing a different character as the only similarity. In 2016 a loose sequel, titled Cheerleader Camp: 2 the Death was also released.
After a team of cheerleaders are burned to death in a gruesome sprinkler accident, Tanya and an all-new squad of drop-dead gorgeous mean girls from competing high schools who chafe under the strict rules set by Coach Paddington (Jennifer Banko, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan). With a lustful caretaker, Ari Lehman (Friday the 13th, 1980) lurking nearby, the team struggles to get along – but when someone in a panda mascot costume begins killing one girl every hour soon their life depends on it!
In 2004 a DVD was released from Anchor Bay Entertainment and despite the distributor’s claims that the releases were uncut and uncensored, the release was actually the R rated version. According to the director John Quinn’s commentary on the disc, the following scenes were cut to appease the MPAA and achieve the R rating: Warning mild spoilers.
- There a couple of sex scenes in the form of dreams- those were trimmed.
- The death scene involving a pair of pruning shears was cut down so to only briefly show the shears entering the back of the victim’s skull.
- A scene near the beginning showing the van breaking down was deleted due to time and pacing.
- Also, at the end of the movie, while Ailson is in hysterics, an ambulance attendant tells her to calm down. This line was cut because according to the director, it sounded bad. Most likely because he played the attendant.
A Cheerleader’s Guide To Totally Fun Facts! Like, For Real!
There a few fun facts to this wacky slasher. I mean, you’ve got a bunch of nubile young people, a summer camp and Leif Garrett, things had to have gotten interesting at some point. Here are a few but be warned, there are, like, spoilers ahead, you know?
- The very first scene in the film was actually that last one shot and it was filmed in Bakersfield High School.
- During a scene where all of the mascots are attempting to eat their lunch through their comically large costume heads, one of the mascots is played by Leif Garrett. Yep, 70s heartthrob, Leif Garrett.
- A bunch of the extras were played by nearby Bakersfield High School cheerleaders. They would have to wait until they were of age to see the finished movie.
- The dog seen in the film belonged to actress Vickie Benson. She brought him to set so often that he actually made it into the final cut.
- In the scene where Miss Tipton and the Sheriff are getting ready to get it on, there is a copy of Leif Garrett’s 1978 album Feel The Need propped up against the record player. An obvious nod to the actor’s bubble gum pop star background.
While this isn’t the best slasher out there, it’s still an entertaining ride with plenty of unintentional camp to go along with the intentional. While Betsy Russell and the rest of the gals, including cross-dressing Travis Mckenna, do well to carry the shaky plot, it’s painfully obvious that Leif Garrett is a better musician than he is an actor. But that is a small gripe that is merely this humble video vault manager’s opinion. The rest of the movie delivers exactly what one would expect from a slasher flick. Pretty people in various stages of undress, slap-stick comic relief, some decent kills, and equally decent SFX and a nifty twist ending that holds it’s own, you know, for a slasher movie.
And there it is! I hope I’ve sold you on this 80s hidden gem. Perfect for a rainy Saturday night… or a sunny Wednesday afternoon, I don’t know what your schedule is… or do I? There, I’ve gone and made things weird again. My apologies. If you wish to file a complaint, you can do so by visiting our NOFS Twitter, Subreddit and Horror Movie Fiend Club of Facebook. Once you’ve made your complaint, feel free to browse for all of the other neat-o-mosquito things the NOFS universe has to offer. Until then, kids, hasta luego and keep it creepy!
Have you seen John Quinn’s Cheerleader Camp? Let us know what you thought of the cult classic over on Twitter, in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit, and on Facebook on the Horror Movie Fiend Club!