Sunday, February 1, 2009

Rah, Rah for Satan's Cheerleaders

By Steve D. Stones

Any movie or book with the word Satan or Evil in the title has always got my immediate attention. Even as a child, I often wondered why grown adults would believe in such nonsense as the Devil any more than they would believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. Yet the majority of our population seems to strongly feel that the Devil is alive and well, and corrupts our souls. If the Devil did exist and he made this film, perhaps he deserves to be banished to Hell for corrupting the souls of viewers who sit through this turkey?

One good thing going for the film is that is that it stars Yvonne De Carlo of television’s The Munsters fame. John Carradine also stars in the film, and seems to appear in the majority of all cult films ever made. Surprisingly, Debra Hill, co-writer and co-producer of John Carpenter’s Halloween, served as script supervisor for the film. Carpenter’s director of photography, Dean Cundey, also served as director of photography for this film.

It’s the eve of the first football game of the school season, and Benedict High’s cheerleaders are on the beach practicing their cheers for tomorrow night’s big football game. They take a break and play football with some of the football players. The football coach is upset about this and tries to break up the group so that they can prepare for the game.

The day of the big game arrives, and the janitor of the High School, Billy, breaks up the cheerleaders from fooling around with one of the football players on the field. A carload of cheerleaders from the opposing team arrives on the field and showers the group with water balloons.

After football practice, the janitor sits at his office desk reciting a satanic chant while grasping his pentagram necklace. He peeks through an air vent behind the locker room wall to watch the girls showering. He places a curse on the girls by rubbing their clothes with his pentagram necklace.
As the girls and their cheer coach, Ms. Johnson, leave for the game in a car, the janitor follows behind them in his pick up truck. He continues reciting a satanic chant and clutching his pentagram necklace. Apparently he is placing a curse on the girls.

The curse causes the car to swerve off the road. Although the car has not crashed into anything, this leaves the car completely disabled. The girls walk down to the main road to flag down someone for help. Billy the janitor shows up in his truck and piles the girls into the back. Ms. Johnson sits up front as Billy threatens her while fondling her breasts.

As Ms. Johnson and Billy struggle in the front seat of the truck, Billy loses control of the vehicle. This scene is some of the worst acting in the entire film.

The girls and Ms. Johnson leave the truck and walk down the hill. Billy is not far behind them. They encounter a sacrificial altar and a giant sculpture of a horned beast. Patti, the pretty blond of the group, removes her clothes and lies on the altar. She cries out coos of orgasmic pleasure. The rest of the group seems oblivious to any of this going on. This causes the janitor to drop over dead. The group seems unconcerned and unsympathetic to his death. This is another scene of really bad acting.

They leave in the janitor’s truck and encounter John Carradine on the road picking up aluminum cans. He appears to be a vagabond. Carradine is unable to help them, so they drive further down the road and pass a sign identifying the town as Nether, California, population 360. Soon they encounter the local sheriff named B. L. Bubb. The sheriff invites them to his office. A giant pentagram hangs above the fireplace, but the girls do not seem to notice or care about it. Soon Yvonne De Carlo, the sheriff’s wife, walks into the room to greet the girls.

We soon discover that sheriff Bubb and his wife De Carla are the head of a local satanic cult and they want a young virgin girl for one of their sacrifices. Who would have guessed? The viewer can see this coming from a mile away.

After the sheriff orders the girls to stay in the upstairs room of the office, they soon escape out the second floor window and flee into the woods. One of the cheerleaders, Debbie, breaks off from the group and encounters Carradine again living in an old abandoned car in the woods. She asks for his help, but soon discovers he too is a part of the cult from the pentagram hanging around his neck. She flees back into the woods.

The entire cult chases after the cheerleaders, but they don’t seem too quick or urgent about it. They take their vicious dogs named Lucifer and Diablo with them to find the girls. The dogs may be the best actors in the film so far.

Meanwhile De Carlo stays behind and prays to a giant pentagram with an eye in the center. She summons the two dogs to attack Patti because shebelieves Patti is the "chosen one" and the virgin maiden they seek for their sacrifice.

The cult eventually catches up to the girls, but discover that none of them is a virgin except for Ms. Johnson, the cheer coach. Here we discover that Patti is actually a witch summoned by the cult.

The film ends with the girls cheering at the High School football game. Patti uses her satanic powers to get the team to win the game.

This is certainly a film that any mainstream audience would have a difficult time sitting through. The girls in the cheerleading squad fit many of the stereotypes we have of cheerleaders. Chris is busty and naive, but not nearly as naïve as Ms. Johnson. Patti is a tramp who likes to remove her clothes at any opportunity she can get, and yet she is also the smartest one of the group. Debbie is independent, and breaks off from the group to save her own skin.

If you are a fan of John Carradine, you may find this film to be a bit of a disappointment because his role is very brief. Nevertheless, you may still want to check it out anyway. Yvonne De Carlo fans may also want to see this film, if only to see what she was up to long after The Munsters television show had ended. De Carlo was a very beautiful woman, even in her later years of life, as you will see in this film. Seeing her in a red satanic cult outfit is actually kind of cute in an evil sort of way.

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