SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS (1977)
Directed by Greydon Clark
Written by Greydon Clark & Alvin L. Fast
Starring Jacqulin Cole, Kerry Sherman, Alisa Powell, Sherry Marks, Hillary Horan, John Ireland, Yvonne De Carlo, John Ireland, Jack Kruschen, Sydney Chaplin, Lane Caudell, Joseph Carlo, Michael Donovan O’Donnell, Robin Greer, Dennis West
SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS is a huge chunk of cheese, but ends up being utterly engaging in its senselessness. Though it might seem like a nudie soft porn flick one might have seen late night on Showtime back in its early incarnation or the last film shown in a Drive In, the film actually is pretty defanged and quite endearing because of it.
SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS centers on the four gal cheerleading squad from Benedict High School consisting of horn-ball Debbie (Alisa Powell), bouncy Sharon (Sherry Marks), snarky Chris (Hillary Horan), ditsy Patti (Kerry Sherman), and their clueless and virginal coach Ms. Johnson (Jacqulin Cole). When they are not barking out cheers and taking showers, they are flirting with the football team, making fun of the Satan worshipping janitor (Jack Kruschen) and stoking the rivalry with the school from across town. On a trip to the big game, the cheerleaders are run off the road by the janitor and find themselves stranded in a small town seemingly overrun by Satan worshippers. When Patti is raped by Satan himself, the squad gathers together at a cabin in the woods, not knowing that it is owned by the Satan worshipping Sheriff (John Ireland) and his High Priestess wife (THE MUNSTERS’ Yvonne De Carlo).
While there is a PORKY’S-like vibe here (there’s even a scene where the gals are peeped on in the shower through a hole in the wall), aside from a few butt-shots and a scene where Patti is declothed and “raped” by Satan (which consists of her writhing around on a stone tablet while a wind machine is turned on high just outside of the shot), I was surprised to find that there is a strong PG feel to this film. The humor at play is not really funny and there are more than a few head-slappers, but aside from an off-screen rape, there is nothing raunchy about this film. That’s not to say that rape isn’t a heinous act, but it is treated in a manner that is pretty befitting of the time the film was made. Sure these free-wheelin’ girls seem to have nothing but sex on their minds, but those looking for T&A are going to be very disappointed.
Expect terrible acting, lame attempts at humor, no budget for effects, and a plot that wants to be raunchy but fails at every turn. John Carridine plays the usual crotchety old man he usually played in films in the 70’s. SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS has definitely seen ROSEMARY’S BABY and even quotes the film’s “All of them witches!” line and supports it by having everyone the wide-eyed cheerleaders encounter being Satan worshippers. Some negative image camera effects, some cheap robes, some cheaply made pentagram necklaces, a wind machine, and a plastic Satan mask is the bulk of the effects at play here.
But despite all of those shortcoming, there’s a stupid kind of fun I had with SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS. Seeing these “actresses” try to convince us that they are in peril is pretty fun. Seeing the Satan worshippers pop up at every turn is entertaining. And getting an eyeful of the gorgeous Kerry Sherman as Patti, who becomes Satan’s plaything is worth the price of admission. SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS will anger many at the laid-back way rape is dealt with, but it will entertain in a brainless and bubblegum manner. What really interested me was the way films of this era treated Satanism as a growing plague in the country and how pervasive this theme is with genre films of this era. It is done comically and whimsically in SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS, but the power of Satanism is highlighted throughout the film. Don’t expect too many scares, but SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS is breezy, forgettable fun. Special features include; a commentary by director Greydon Clark, commentary track by horror film director David DeCoteau & film historian David Del Valle, & a behind the scenes photo gallery.