I have always been a fan of the New Concorde Massacre movies. The old VHS covers on the shelves of DJ Video will always hold a special place in my heart. From both of the Sorority House Massacre movies to all three of the Slumber Party Massacre films, there was always something alluring about the seedy little boxes depicting 20-something women in their underwear huddled together as some killer lurked slightly out of view with only his weapon completely in sight (often a drill).
As a young teenager, I just knew that these had to be the best movies ever.
Well, that prediction was not quite accurate.
Oh hell, it was way off.
The last of these movies to be put out by New Concorde is Cheerleader Massacre. Released in 2003, it arrived on video shelves a full decade after the most recent of it predecessors. The box to this installment is nearly identical to the Slumber Party Massacre video boxes and carries the tagline “Just when you thought it was safe to go back to school”.
Cheerleader Massacre is directed by Jim Wynorski, the same guy who made my least favorite of the prior entries, Sorority House Massacre 2. On the other hand, this is the same guy that directed the hysterical The Haunting of Morella. Suffice it to say, his work is a mixed bag.
As it turns out, this is one of his better efforts. Though not quite as enjoyable as Gargoyle: Wings of Darkness, it is heads and shoulders above the embarrassing 976-Evil 2. This one is easy enough to watch and even though I like it less than Slumber Party Massacre 3, it holds up better than most of the other ones in the series.
Do I need to tell you what this is about? It is called Cheerleader Massacre. A group of teenage cheerleaders and their coach get stranded and a serial killer is on the loose. That is the entire plot. Not much to it. But, there doesn’t need to be.
Now, let’s take a moment to discuss the teenage cheerleaders. These girls are teens in the same way that Andrea Zuckerman was a teenager at West Beverly High. No matter how much makeup you caked on Gabrielle Carteris, she just wasn’t going to look any younger than 40. Well, one of our young cheerleaders is played by April Summers who had already done about a million porno films in the four years prior to this slasher being released. Needless to say, she is looking a little… rough. There is no 7 Eleven clerk in the world that is going to ask for her ID, much less mistake her for a high school student.
Brinke Stevens actually returns to the series reprising her role as “Linda” from the first Slumber Party Massacre (this high school girl was 28 the year that movie was released). It is a strange cameo that I thought would pay off later in the movie but never did. She kind of shows up, tells the police about what happened when she was in high school (with time padding flashback scenes from that movie), and that is it. I figured she might turn up as the killer or something. Nope. She is never heard from again.
This movie is a marvel of time padding, by the way. On top of the useless flashbacks noted above, there are several scenes of the cheerleading squad’s van driving around the country. There are also several pointless scenes that take place in a police department. Oh god, for one obnoxious interval the kids all huddle around to tell stories in a cabin! I would bet that this movie could have been trimmed to 20 minutes without missing a beat.
Regardless, Wynorski delivers in other ways, most notably with a very long shower sequence featuring the cheerleading squad’s coach (played by Tamie Sheffield).
Honestly, she must have been showing for hours. Things would happen to other characters and we just kept returning to her in that shower. Seriously, every time it cut back to her, I would think “she’s still in the shower?”. The killer was able to pick off, like, two or three people while she rubbed soap on her chest. I suppose, though, to be fair, it probably really takes Tamie a good half hour or so per enormous breast to really get clean.
Anyway, the killer turns out to be a character that I remember thinking was probably the killer when the character was first introduced in the movie. However, this character doesn’t really do much until the end and, honestly, I had totally forgetten the character was in the movie at all.
So, if that was done intentionally, good job. But, if that was just sloppy writing… Oh, who I am kidding? That was just sloppy writing.
Overall, this is not a favorite movie of mine, but it was better than I thought it would be.