Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Death of a Cheerleader (1994)

by JM

Are you ready to be jealous? I just found "Death of a Cheerleader" with Tori Spelling and Kellie Martin for $3.99!

Yes, I actually called Billy one afternoon last week to tell him this good news. I am quite certain that particular scenario has never been played out by anyone anywhere else in the world. Ever. But, as I have noted before this is what Tower Farm is all about.

Finally, I have found a movie that combines my love for the old TV show 90210 and my love of slasher movies... sort of. I mean, if I really stretch what anyone's definition of a slasher movie might be then, maybe I can make this qualify and post it on this site. Right?

Does is help to know that Tori Spelling is killed right away??

Filmed in 1994, I really cannot believe had not even heard of this little gem before. This movie claims to be based on a true story. In fact, the back of the box reads: BASED ON THE SHOCKING REAL-LIFE STORY! But, don't be confused. As this little disclaimer at the beginning of the movie points out, this is no documentary:

I mean, really. Did the filmmakers need to point out that conversations were dramatized? I guess that they were (correctly) assuming that anyone watching this movie would be too stupid to understand that the real people in the town where this event really took place did not walk around all day with tape recorders in their pockets. Thanks for the clarification.

Anyway, the movie begins with an awkward scene in which Stacy Lockwood, played be Tori Spelling (who is playing Donna Martin), frantically knocks on a stranger’s door asking to use the phone because her friend, who is giving her a ride, is acting really weird.

So, the man of the house agrees to give Stacy a ride home. Stacy's friend can be seen in the shadows watching everything. As I watched this, I figured that Stacy and her friend were trying to lure the man out of the house so the friend could break in or something. But, I was really off-base. Within minutes of dropping Stacy off, some mystery figure emerges from the shadows and stabs Stacy to death.

This scene may have been shocking had it not involved Tori Spelling as the victim. When she says, "I can't feel my legs", well... it is just funny. What a ham.

Then, we get this:

Okay, so the movie wants to be Death of a Salesman for teens.

Basically, everything is pretty much laid out for us during a scene that takes place at a high school pep rally. Here, the school principal, played by Terry O'Quinn, is firing up the student population. This principal is one hell of a talented orator. That is for sure. He gets all of these kids united and worked into such a fervor that I cannot help but think he is some kind of modern-day Hitler or something.

Many of you may recognize Terry O'Quinn from the TV show Lost, more importantly, though (at least to me), he is the Stepfather from the underrated Stepfather movies. I am going to go out on a real limb here and say Death of a Cheerleader was a low point in his career.

As I mentioned, this principal gives one hell of a speech. Afterward, Angela Delvecchio, played by Kellie Martin, decides...out loud... that she is "going to be the best". She exclaims that she is going to "edit the yearbook and... be a cheerleader, and... be a Lark". The Larks, by the way, are some sort of all-girl club that does social activities to help people/organizations.

Sounds a little nerdy to me. But, Angela is convinced this is what she needs to do to be popular. And as the DVD box warns with its tagline, "SHE WOULD DO ANYTHING TO BE POPULAR... EVEN

Well, you can pretty much guess where this is going. Donna Martin, I mean Stacy Lockwood, is a member of the Larks and she makes fun of Angela. But, in her defense, Stacy seems to make fun of pretty much everyone in this movie. So, I am not sure why Angela takes things so seriously. My favorite jibe of Stacy's, by the way, is when she yells at some poor girl, "Forget your broom?". Then she follows that up with "better run along now... we don't feed strays here". Wow. That is some pretty rough stuff.

Incredibly, Angela's friend in the Larks is none other than Marley Shelton (billed here as Marlee Shelton), of Valentine and Planet Terror. She is a Tower Farm favorite, if there ever was one. So, even though she is pretty young in this feature and hiding under some very 1990's hair, I recognized her immediately. Christ, I am glad I bought this movie.

So, after a botched attempt at making Stacy her friend... an attempt which leaves Stacy thinking that Angela was hitting on her, Angela stabs and kills the girl.

Now, the police have witnesses that saw a young brunette driving a green Nova leaving the scene of the crime. Angela is a brunette and her sister drives a green Nova. And, she has been blabbing on and on to anyone who would listen about how cool she thinks Stacy is and how frustrated she is that Stacy will not pay attention to her for 10 months straight. Yet, somehow no one... and I mean no one... puts things together.

This leads to a lot of silly sequences about how guilty she feels. Finally, after talking to Carlton's Dad from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, she confesses to her crime. This leads to a wonderfully over acted scene in which her mother... well, does this:

The end of the movie is a total mess. It becomes a courtroom drama for a little while. Then it focuses for a little while on Marley Shelton's character as she tries to be a better friend to Angela. Then, we find out that Angela was sentenced to 7 years in prison for killing Donna Martin. I mean Stacy Lockwood.

This flick is full of other recognizable faces and is a lot of fun to watch. I also think that 7 years seems a little harsh for knocking off someone who would cruelly call people "strays". Instead of 7, I think a more just sentence would be

3 and a half… fingers.


  1. Marley Shelton is in this?! Jeez, she must've been desperate.

    Have you two seen the film "The Woods"? I watched it yesterday and although it's more reserved and less absurdist than you'd like, it's a good movie.

  2. Wow! Your comment rolled in quickly! I have not heard of "The Woods". You liked it, though? It seems like we like a lot of the same movies.

    I will send out your stuff today, by the way. I have it packaged and sitting in the car. Sorry it is taking me so long.

    Thanks for the newsletter. It is great. I can't wait to show it to Billy. I really enjoyed adding the lip balm to my collection of horror movie trinkets.


  3. Yup, I'm quick off the mark! "The Woods" was a taut thriller movie really, it's like Mean Girls + The Craft. I can't wait to get my things :D, don't worry about the wait - you're quicker than most zine-makers! The lip balm is awesome, I've been using my one actually.

  4. Nice review! I watched this on the Soap network a few backs and found that I coudn't turn it off, no matter how hard I tried. Kellie Martin truly was the queen of TV movie angst in the 90s, ad Tori Spelling was, and will probably always be, Tori Spelling. Mostly due to limited range.

  5. Wow, never even heard of this one, for some reason Cherry Falls comes to mind immediately though they are entirely unrelated, but they do have 90s teen heartthrobs and are relatively obscure. x2 on The Woods, its Lucky McKee's take on Suspiria and even has a cameo by Bruce Campbell!!1 Get in on that action guys, you can grab it for less than a buck online! Sorry to say the review just hasnt convinced me to ever, ever, watch this one lol..

  6. Sounds very Lifetime-ish. No T&A? Blagh!

  7. Emily,

    I think that the Soap network has to be the perfect home for this one. I kind of wish I had seen it that way for the first time!


    Bruce Campbell is in it? I will have to the THE WOODS, now. I have always been kind of a fan. Now, I am a bigger fan than ever because he is on my favorite show, BURN NOTICE and I just read his book MAKE LOVE, which had me laughing so much I couldn't fall asleep.

    Planet of Terror,

    Good point... However, I don't want to see Kelli Martin or Tori Spelling nude. And Marley Shelton looks like a kid in this one. I think we are better off without it this time around.


  8. Soap Network? This should be on Lifestime (my mom's favorite channel)

    Great review.

    My only gripe. It didn't star the queen of 90s made for TV movies Tracy Gold (from Growing Pains).

    I remember she was in a flick a while back where she kept trying to kill her roomate before she was caught by the police.

    The last lines went like:

    Roomate: "Who are you?"
    Crazy, psycho Tracy Gold character: "I was almost you"

    Anybody know the name of this gem?

  9. Jaded, it's called FACE OF EVIL I believe. How do I know that? Don't ask.

    As for DEATH OF A CHEERLEADER, the only reason I watched this was to see Spelling get murdered. I can't stand her annoying ass. This definitely belongs on Lifetime, which is also my mom's favorite channel. This film wasn't so bad though. I kind of dug some of it. Great review, Jeremy!

  10. Love, love, LOVE this movie. I have two vhs tapes marked Tori Spelling I & Tori Spelling 2. This is on there (from a Lifetime airing) and I also have Mother, May I Sleep with Danger and of course her best movie, Co-ed Call Girl.

    I think Tori is fucking amazing in this movie. What a bitch. I kind of wanted to stab her.

    Also, I have the Face of Evil as well. I reviewed it for my Lifetime Kills column here:


  11. Never heard of this movie either and it sounds like the strangest mishmash of filmic ingredients ever. It too made Cherry Falls come to mind like Carl said. Weird.