Cheerleaders are a strangely American obsession if movies are to be believed; one that seems rather odd when you think about it. The idea of teenage girls in revealing outfits being held up as a model of wholesome ideals is a bizarre one; surely, at least in part, celebrating the sexuality of school children is disturbing and speaks to the core of a society steeped in moral ambiguity? Or maybe that’s reading way too much into all of this? Yeah, that’s probably the case.
Today we will be counting down five great cheerleader horror movies. Why only five? Well, frankly, there just aren’t that many that are any good (let alone great), which is odd. In a perfect world, cheerleaders should be ideal subject matter for horror movies. Whilst a rather twee device, it is a simple way of getting together a group of young, often attractive, women to be lined up then dealt with as required; nudity is a given and the inherent naivety of the girls explains the weird, sometimes random, self-preservation decisions they make (not that all cheerleaders are dummies, of course).
Anyway, consider this article an open plea to horror filmmakers everywhere to make some more great cheerleader horror movies. In the meantime, check out these five cheer-filled flicks.
5. Satan’s Cheerleaders (1977)
Director: Greydon Clark
Stars: Jack Kruschen, Kerry Sherman, Sherry Marks, Hillary Horan, Alisa Powell
Satan’s Cheerleaders follows a small squad of slightly obnoxious cheerleaders who get shanghaied on the way to the big game by a Satanist, who also happens to be the janitor/panty sniffer at their high school. The cheerleaders in question are as young, fit and intellectually deficient as you might expect. There are only four of them – Patti, Sharon, Debbie and Chris – and they wear their names emblazoned in large letters on their undersized T-shirts. Yeah. Let’s just say these young women aren’t going to win any MacArthur grants; they’re not even very good at cheers, which they execute by jumping up and down in an uncoordinated fashion. You’re actually happy with the devil starts possessing these broads.
All in all, Satan’s Cheerleaders is pure silly fun, and well aware of it. It is in no way perfect, but it’s entertainment in its purest form. If you’re looking for scares, you won’t find them here. But if you’re looking for a silly and amusing piece of cinematic camp, you can’t go wrong with this one.
4. Cheerleader Camp (1988)
Director: John Quinn
Stars: Betsy Russell, Leif Garrett, Lucinda Dickey, Lorie Griffin, Rebecca Ferratti
Cheerleader Camp (aka Bloody Pom Poms) follows Alison, a cheerleader who’s grappling with feelings of inadequacy. Alison, along with her flirtatious boyfriend and fellow cheerleaders, attend Camp Hurrah, a cheerleading camp. Allison quickly realizes that her boyfriend seems to be more interested in the other cheerleaders then he is in her. Subsequently, the other girls at the camp begin to turn up dead one by one. With that, Alison starts to believe that she has a split-personality who’s doing the killing.
If you were to strip Cheerleader Camp down to the basics, it comes off as a poor man’s Friday The 13th or Sleepaway Camp. However, even though it doesn’t bring anything new to the table, it still manages to perform an entertaining routine that will have you shaking your pom-poms in delight. The film has a fair share of inventive kills, some impressive gore, and will keep you guessing to the very end as to who the killer is.
3. All Cheerleaders Die (2013)
Directors: Lucky McKee, Chris Sivertson
Stars: Caitlin Stasey, Sianoa Smit-McPhee, Brooke Butler, Tom Williamson
When her queen-bee best friend croaks in a freak cheerleading accident, Maddy infiltrates the squad, swearing revenge against the dead girl’s bereaved boyfriend, high-school football captain Terry, who’s quickly rebounded with another cheerleader. Things get out of hand quickly, however, and a confrontation with Terry and his teammates leads to the whole cheer team driving off of a ravine and drowning in the lake below. Unfortunately for the jocks responsible, the girls are quickly revived as vengeful vampires by the class witch. In other words, what starts as a glorified Pretty Little Liars episode eventually evolves into a flippant hybrid of The Craft and I Know What You Did Last Summer.
Funny in its satire, inventive in its horror, and devilishly satisfying in its theme, All Cheerleaders Die mixes a dash of Mean Girls, a pinch of Bring It On, and a heaping helping of witchy horror to conjure one fun-filled dark comedy. Young, far-from-dumb and full of comeuppances.
2. Jennifer’s Body (2009)
Director: Karyn Kusama
Stars: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, Adam Brody
Thanks to a Satanic ritual gone wrong, former high-school cheerleader Jennifer Check is a literal man-eater, forced to consume human flesh in order to stay alive. She limits her diet to horny classmates, mostly because she’s so hot that they don’t think twice about traveling to dark, secluded spots with her. However, unfortunately for them, she’s the only one getting lucky.
For all its flaws, lapses in good judgment and good taste, Jennifer’s Body is a movie that gets it. Playing with the notion of the hot chick as a man-eater, and reminding millions of teenage girls of the sexual power they may not even realize they have. It’s a feminist statement wrapped in gory violence and gratuitous glamour shots of its titular character. It’s a brisk, bloody mix of gory horror and high school comedy; Mean Girls Of Darkness or Army Of Heathers, to put it in movie studio pitch-speak.
1. Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1992)
Director: Fran Rubel Kuzui
Stars: Kristy Swanson, Luke Perry, Donald Sutherland, Rutger Hauer, Paul Reubens
This is the OG Buffy Summers, and she’s often left in the shadow of her TV counterpart. That doesn’t make her less of a slayer, it just means you really need to revisit the movie that started it all. For those of you who don’t know, Buffy is a vapid L.A. girl whose life revolves around cheerleading and shopping. Her priorities are almost nil until she’s visited one day by a strange man named Merrick who tells her that she is the next in a long line of girls chosen to hunt and kill vampires. But she better be ready to accept her fate, because the vampire king Lothos is in town and he’s coming after her.
Joss Whedon – screenwriter of the film and creator behind the series – is adamant about the fact that this film should not be considered part of the Buffy canon. Whedon has (repeatedly and publicly) voiced his disappointment with the film, which was not representative of his original screenplay. But what does he know right? This underrated horror comedy serves as the ultimate guilty pleasure. It’s a film that chooses to embrace the absurdity and run with it. The movie is hilarious and Pee-wee Herman is a one-armed vampire with hair like the dudes from Poison. What’s not to love?
Are there any other cheerleader horror flicks you’d like to add to the list? Let us know below.
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