‘Come score with the cheerleaders’
Satan’s Cheerleaders is a 1977 comedy horror feature film starring John Ireland, Yvonne De Carlo, and John Carradine. It was directed by Greydon Clark (Dance Macabre; Without Warning, Uninvited) from a script co-written with producer Alvin L. Fast.
The cinematography was provided by Dean Cundey who would famously go on to work on Halloween a year later and a number of John Carpenter’s films.
Benedict High School’s cheerleaders aren’t shy and sweet. The football team knows them well – and Billy, the school’s disturbed janitor, would like to.
In the locker room, the girls shower and dress, unaware of the evil eyes which secretly watch them. They don’t know that a curse has been placed on their clothes. And they don’t know that their trip to the first big game of the season might sideline them for eternity.
Will the cheerleaders succumb to the dark ritual of sexual sacrifice and death that’s been plotted for them?
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“The film quickly documents the underlying rowdiness of both the cheerleaders and (of course) the football players, but the whole satanic element is such a gonzo addition to this basic plot formulation that the film struggles to weave things together into something amounting to an organic whole.” Jeffrey Kauffman, Blu-ray.com
“The cheese runs high in the opening minutes of the girls reciting inane dialogue and playing “chicken” on the beach, but once the Satanists are introduced, the audience is subjected to horrendous acting by both the embarrassed veterans and the newcomers (soon to be gone from the screens for good). None of the scares are effective and the intentional humor is strained and pathetic. Yuck!” Casey Scott, DVD Drive-In
“As a horror film, Satan’s Cheerleaders is either wilfully incompetent or simply incapable of understanding how to make a devil worshipping sect made up of middle-aged white trash threatening in the slightest. Once they escape from the house, Chris, Sharon and Debbie all manage to run into members of the cult – it’s like an entire town filled with variations on Texas Chain Saw‘s Cook…” The Pink Smoke
“A charming detour into the Theatre of the Absurd that’s sweetened by a deliciously subversive edge. Rah! Rah! Rah!” DVD Talk
“Satan’s Cheerleaders had potential to be devilishly fun, but its lackluster pacing sucks the wind right out of it. Director Greydon Clark doesn’t bring anything original or outrageous to the table. The film’s first third is devoted to cheerleader frolics that are dull despite all the leaping, bending and showering. Marquee value stars De Carlo and Ireland look embarrassed while John Carradine just looks at cue cards but still delivers the best performance.” Bill Burke, Horror News
“Satan’s Cheerleaders takes a little while to hit its stride but the last half of the film, if not good in the traditional sense, is at least entertaining and bizarre enough to hold our attention. The film also benefits from a genuinely strange cast.” Ian Jane, Rock! Shock! Pop!
Cast and characters:
- John Ireland as The Sheriff
- Yvonne De Carlo as Emmy / Sheriff’s Wife / High Priestess
- Jack Kruschen as Billy the Janitor
- John Carradine as The Bum
- Sydney Chaplin as Monk
- Jacqueline Cole [as Jacqulin Cole] as Ms. Johnson
- Kerry Sherman as Patti
- Hillary Horan as Chris
- Alisa Powell as Debbie
- Sherry Marks as Sharon
- Lane Caudell [as Lane Cordell] as Stevie
- Joseph Carlo as Coach
- Michael Donovan O’Donnell as Farmer
- Robin Greer as Baker Girl
Satan’s Cheerleaders was released theatrically in the United States by World Amusements in June 1977, on VHS in the 1980s by various companies including Interglobal Home Video, Liberty Home Video, and United Video and on DVD by VCI Entertainment in 2002. The DVD version is currently available on the VCI Home Video label from Music Video Distributors. A Blu-ray and DVD combo was released on November 7, 2017.
Image credits: VHS Collector