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October 13, 2012

Movie Review: The Cheerleaders (1973)

Directed by Paul Glickler

Reviewed by Greg Goodsell

Poor Jeannie (nude model Stephanie Fondue – I small an assumed name) is all of 15 years old and is still a virgin in her jerkwater California town. She decides to join her cheerleading team at her high school in order to become more popular, and once accepted, most go through an initiation where she must shower in the boy’s locker room. Once there, the football team comes rolling in and group gropes her! Are we laughing yet? Her mom’s a prude, her dad’s a perv and all of her cheerleader friends are skanks! There are drug deals, an overweight, leering pedophile janitor (“There’s malaria in the area.” One of the cheerleaders opines) and one cheerleader’s attempted rape is played for laughs! Will Jeannie get her cherry popped and will a big climactic orgy save the big football game? Well, what do you think?

Buy The Cheerleaders at Amazon UK!

The Cheerleaders is typical softcore drive-in swill, with ugly people, clothes, photography and lame jokes, but it serves as a timely reminder on how these types of films aren’t being made anymore. After the success of Porky’s (and its sequels) in the 1980s, films began to center “cherry-pop” comedies on colleges in order to sidestep accusations of the sexual exploitation of minors. While the majority of the actors and actresses appearing in said comedies were definitely past adolescence – check out the horror classic Carrie (1976), where all the high school students appear to be in their thirties! – this was still problematic for films such as this one, as actress Fondue could easily pass for 12 or 13! With her putative breasts, little girl lost persona this writer is certain The Cheerleaders was very popular with a certain “select” audience. Mix in the aforementioned slapstick rape scene and the Mexican bus driver boning down on some hippie chick behind the wheel to some Mariachi music and this film would not last five minutes in these here politically charged times!

As teenagers continue to have sex en masse, the only filmmaker to continually tap into this is director Larry Clarke, with such serious art-house fare as Kids (1995) and Bully (2001). Clarke gets his features under the umbrella of “artistic and social” importance, but I suspect that the majority of his films usually appeal to a certain “select” audience. See above paragraph.

The Cheerleaders will have some value to those old enough to have caught it at the drive-in in its initial run, but its overall ugliness and banality will be off-putting to most. Skip this one and see its unofficial sequel Revenge of the Cheerleaders (1976) instead!

TRIVIA NOTE: Always one to self-promote and never waste footage, infamous producer Jerry Gross uses clips from the cult horror hit I Drink Your Blood (1970) when the action switches to a movie theater!

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