In Cheerleader Camp, a group of cheerleaders convene at Camp Hurrah to further their craft. They make pyramids, chant, engage in acrobatics, do lots of topless swimming, and compete for first place in a cheer competition. It soon becomes apparent that someone is sizing up the competition and taking out anyone that might be perceived as a threat. One by one, the ladies are picked off by a mysterious psychopath.
Originally titled Bloody Pom Poms, Cheerleader Camp is a 1988 slasher film directed by the late John Quinn. Cheerleader Camp is one of the only films Quinn did that isn’t soft-core adult cinema. Well, that’s debatable: Cheerleader Camp is a lot like a soft-core adult film. There is an almost obscene amount of sex, gratuitous nudity, and sexual innuendo in this 1988 feature.
It’s clear that David Lee Fein and R.L. O’Keefe were reaching when they penned the screenplay for this campy slasher. There’s a lot of filler in the film’s 89-minute runtime. There are multiple subplots taking place that aren’t important to the outcome of the picture.
In addition to a threadbare plot-line, Cheerleader Camp is filled with awful but ultimately amusing dialogue like: “Why did she kill herself? Was it something I said?”
Though there are plenty of shortcomings, the film isn’t all bad. One thing I found inventive about Cheerleader Camp is that it uses red screen during scene transitions instead of the more customary solid black. And that fits perfectly with the gratuitous display of onscreen violence. It’s interesting that more slasher films don’t use red for scene transitions, as it serves as a nice tribute to the obligatory carnage that is on display in slasher films.
Other than creative scene transitions, the whodunit angle is the only other thing about the film that stands out at all. The identity of the killer is kept a secret until the end of the film and as it turns out, the slayer is actually not the most predictable suspect. The mystery surrounding the killer’s identity keeps the viewer’s attention more so than if his or her identity was revealed earlier in the picture.
As far as character development goes, there is none. The characters are terribly flimsy and underdeveloped. But they are just there to die gruesome deaths, so it’s difficult to fault the film for that.
The performances are average at best. George ‘Buck’ Flower (Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama) is one of the only remotely interesting characters. He has some perv-ish dialogue that is good for a chuckle from time to time.
The pacing is really up and down. There is a large span of time in the second act where no kills occur. That downtime is very agonizing because the film doesn’t have a lot of strong suits to make up for the large gap between onscreen deaths.
Cheerleader Camp is excessively campy. It’s difficult to tell if that’s intentional or accidental. But either way, the camp factor makes the film more enjoyable than it ought to be. The rap that Leif Garret and Travis McKenna perform is absolutely awful. But, like the rest of the film, it’s tough to say if it’s meant to be terrible or not. Regardless of the intent, it’s pretty funny.
In terms of gore, Cheerleader Camp is plenty bloody. There is a great scene where a character takes a pair of garden shears to the back of the head and they come out her mouth. There are several other noteworthy death scenes as well.
Currently, Cheerleader Camp is out of print on DVD. It’s still available for fairly reasonable prices via a variety of online resellers but is likely to increase in price over time. This film is probably only suited for die-hard slasher fans. It’s far from great but it has its moments.The Anchor Bay DVD features commentary from the film’s director and an alternate titles sequence. Check it out if you feel like it but keep your expectations in check.
Director(s): John Quinn,
Writer(s): David Lee Fein, R.L. O’Keefe
Stars: Leif Garrett, Betsey Russell
Studio/ Production Co: Prism Entertainment
Length: 89 Minutes