• Satan’s Cheerleaders

    Released by: VCI Entertainment
    Released on: November 7th, 2017.
    Director: Greydon Clark
    Cast: John Ireland, Yvonne De Carlo, Jack Kruschen, John Carradine, Sydney Chaplin
    Year: 1977
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    The Movie:

    A genuinely strange attempt to cash in on the popularity of both the cheerleader films and occult themed horror pictures that were popular in the seventies, director Greydon Clark’s Satan’s Cheerleaders is… goofy. Yep, that’s the best word to describe it. Goofy.

    The movie introduces us to the cheerleaders of Benedict High School – Chris (Hillary Horan), Debbie (Alisa Powell), Sharon (Sherry Marks) and Patti (Kerry Sherman). These four girls seem perpetually horny, making out with football players whenever the opportunity arises. This doesn’t stop their coach, Ms. Johnson (Jacqueline Cole – Greydon Clark’s wife!), from taking them across the county to perform at a big game.

    Of course, on the way they run into car trouble, only to be rescued by creepy, pervy school janitor Billy (Jack Kruschen), a portly man with a thing for bedazzled shirts and underage girls. He’d probably make good Senate candidate in Alabama. At any rate, they pile into Billy’s truck because Mrs. Johnson assures them he’s harmless, but Mrs. Johnson is a dumb ass. Before you know it, he’s taken them off roading and has got one of the girls naked on an altar where he plans to defile her in the name of his lord and master. You see, Billy’s evil. He’s in league with Satan! They manage to escape and wind up talking to a hobo (John Carradine) who they bribe into helping them find the sheriff (John Ireland). He and his wife (Yvonne De Carlo) welcome the girls into their home but soon enough, the cheerleaders realize something is very wrong here…

    This one takes a bit of time to get going. It starts off as a T&A comedy, which would be fine if it had much in the way of T&A or comedy to offer, but it doesn’t. The humor is base, not particularly funny at all, and while the girls are all quite attractive, they stay more or less full clothed – even a water balloon battle proves fruitless in the skin department! About half an hour in, though, things change. Billy becomes a more important character. Why does that matter? Because Billy is Jack Kruschen and he played Iorgos 'Papouli' Katsopolis on Full House! It is kind of fun watching Uncle Jesse’s kindly old grandfather running around in this film as a horny, perverted member of a Satanic cult out to bed any cheerleader he can. From there, the movie shifts gears a few times, working in elements of small town conspiracy tropes and, of course, some wonky Satanic rituals. There’s no gore here or anything like that, but the movie does manage to conjure up some strange – if never particularly frightening – atmosphere in its last third.

    As to the cast? Well aside from Kruschen, who is a kick to watch, Carradine is pretty amusing here too. Granted, this writer has an inexplicable love for John Carradine and is willing to watch him in even the worst of the many terrible films he appeared in, but still, old John’s presence counts for something even if he adds very little to the plot. Yvonne De Carlo’s role is pretty obvious from the moment she’s introduced but she does get to claim credit for one of the standout moments in the film, where he repeats over and over again some Satanic mumbo jumbo that’s delivered with a weird reverb effect over top of it. John Ireland is fine as the cop, but again, we know his game before the girls in the picture do. Jacqueline Cole is likeable as the coach, even when the four main cheerleaders really aren’t. They’re pretty and they look the part but they don’t come across as particularly nice people. Still, Alisa Powell had a small part in The Toolbox Murders a year after this picture was made. Also worth pointing out is the presence of Robin Greer. She’s got a small part here as a cheerleader for the opposing school. She’d go on to star in Falconcrast and also receive some infamy for her role as a very outspoken critic of none other than O.J. Simpson (Greer was very good friends with Nicole Brown before she was murdered). Michael Donovan O'Donnell, who appeared in Russ Meyer’s Vixen as well as Just Before Dawn and quite a few other exploitation pictures, also has a small role in the film as an unnamed farmer, also on the side of the devil.


    VCI brings Satan’s Cheerleaders to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.78.1 widescreen taken from a “new 2K scan from the original 35mm negative.” Some mild print damage is still present and colors are a little inconsistent in spots but generally look quite good. This is an okay looking image even if it is soft in spots, never reference quality but always watchable enough. Detail never blows you away but it’s definitely better than what DVD would have been able to provide. Some scenes appear to have some DNR applied, while other scenes look naturally grainy. The best way to describe the transfer? Inconsistent, but how much of that is down to the elements versus the transfer is kind of hard to say. Regardless, this leaves room for improvement but it’s not a complete disaster. The old DVD release was fullframe (it looked open matte), the framing on this Blu-ray is at least more cinematic.

    Audio chores are handled by an English language LPCM 2.0 Mono track. The track could maybe have sounded a bit cleaner than it does but it is, for the most part, serviceable if imperfect. Dialogue is usually easy enough to understand but there is some hiss here and there and consistent flatness to much of the film. There are no alternate language options offered, but removable English subtitles are included.

    Extras start off with a commentary track featuring director Greydon Clark in which he speaks about making the picture. He talks up the contributions of the cast and crew, including Dean Cundey, and shares some information about the picture’s production history. The disc also includes a second commentary track, this one featuring filmmaker David DeCoteau and film historian David Del Valle. They provide their thoughts on the picture and offer up a mix of history, trivia and critical analysis.

    VCI also offers up the ‘original version’ of the film, which just appears to be the same cut of the film, albeit with a bit less cleanup work having been done. It’s an odd choice to include as an extra as the differences in quality between this and the feature ‘restored version’ aren’t really all that drastic (though sometimes the colors look better on this version, go figure) but hey, for those who want it, it’s here.

    Rounding out the extras is a behind-the-scenes photo gallery, menus and chapter selection. The theatrical trailer that was included on VCI’s old DVD release has not been included with this Blu-ray, however, as this is a combo pack release, a DVD is included inside the keepcase that uses the same new transfer and includes the same extras as are found on the Blu-ray disc.

    The Final Word:

    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. VCI’s Blu-ray release isn’t going to take home any awards for quality but it provides a reasonable upgrade over the DVD in terms of presentation and throws in two new commentary tracks to document the film’s history.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Maureen Champ's Avatar
      Maureen Champ -
      On my point, Jacqueline Cole, Greydon's late wife was in Psychic Killer as secretary in police office and she had one small role in Stargames (Greydon's last picture). But! She was never credited in these aforementioned films and that's strange for me.