Revenge of the Cheerleaders (1976)

Own it!

review by Scott Hamilton and Chris Holland
See also:

The Faculty

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Tammy and the T-Rex

Revenge of the Cheerleaders

Lava Lamp

Our rating: one LAVA® motion lamp.

"I'm majoring in
Becoming a Walking Joke."
We've hit some of the lows of David Hasselhoff's career before (Witchery, Starcrash), but Revenge of the Cheerleaders is a much more important film for the Hoff. It's his first film, in which he descends to goofy depths beyond everything we've seen before. His character, Boner, makes his entrance from a stall in a girl's restroom, weary and befuddled after a session of sloppy lovemaking. Later in the film, we learn that Boner is not only the star basketball player, but also one heck of a dancer, a complete stud, and a man who can be revived from an ether-induced stupor by the mere whiff of a pair of cheerleader's panties. (Whether this bespeaks the virtue of Boner or the panties we're not sure, but we thought it worth mentioning.) In short, he is the male sex object in a film that supposedly represents the viewpoint of the empowered sexual woman. This probably explains why Mr. Hasselhoff was so eager to star in a TV series in which he was routinely upstaged by a car. In Revenge of the Cheerleaders poor Dave is routinely upstaged by a pair of bared breasts, so you can see why Knight Rider might be considered a step up.

Revenge of the Cheerleaders is yet another member of the wearying parade of teen sex comedies which are long on attitude and nudity but short on plot and production values. There are even topless women during the opening credits, smiling and laughing as they change shirts in the back of a convertible as if it were the most natural act in the world. (They must pity those of us who live here in reality.) Had Revenge not been Hoff's freshman screen effort, we probably would never have picked it up, as it's the sort of picture that could only be found entertaining (or titillating) by the thirteen-year-old boy who mows lawns in your neighborhood.

"Gimme an 'S'! Gimme a 'L'!
Gimme a 'U'! Gimme a 'T'!"
At Aloha High School in California, the cheerleaders rule the roost. They don't seem to attend any classes (beyond those required by the script), they have sex openly in front of teachers, and they get all the credit for Aloha's winning basketball team. But Aloha is threatened with closure, in which case the cheerleaders would have to go to Lincoln, an inner city school where they will be "slaves." At least that's what the cheerleaders seem to believe, though later in the film two of them go to Lincoln and rob a classroom of Lincoln punks of their drugs with nothing more than a fire extinguisher. Then our spunky heroines use the drugs to spike the school's spaghetti sauce. This results in the whole school's population getting stoned, including some inspectors there on business for the school system. Meanwhile, the cheerleaders have an orgy with the basketball team in the boys showers, which are magically filled with fluffy soap suds. Like most of the scenes in the film, this is basically the level of humor you'd expect from the studios of Nickelodeon -- if they made porn.

Perhaps we should point out that the cheerleaders didn't do any of this to keep Aloha from merging with Lincoln. They don't even know about that. The five cheerleaders are largely interchangeable, and it isn't until the last half hour that any of them are involved in the hastily assembled collection of clichés we'll call the plot. This makes it very hard for us to find any character for whom to root. The cheerleaders are sociopaths. The Lincoln students are thugs, though thugs who are deathly afraid of fire retardant foam. The whole plan to close Aloha turns out to have been cooked up by a rich developer who wants to build a mall on the property. So poor people are bad, rich people are bad, and all the people in between are reprehensible.

Given the dearth of likeable characters, we'll root for David Hasselhoff's Boner. The Hoff has very few lines of dialogue, so at least he never annoys us that way. In the shower scene he practically shows us his Lil' K.I.T.T., so he's got that Kevin Bacon thing going for him. During the three or so musical dance scenes interspersed in the movie his wild flailings kept us laughing for minutes on end, which is more than we can say for any of the parts of this film that were intended to be jokes.

"We're all on our way to obscurity!
Except the tall guy in back!"
The casting process here more likely involved the "doing" of lines rather than the "reading" of lines. Although there are a couple of career character actors hanging around (like stage musician and vaudevillian Carl Ballantine), much of the cast would never work again after his film. Particularly putrid, however, is Eddra Gale as the blushingly mannish Nurse Beam. Beam's scenes made us want to remove the batteries from the remote and swallow them — a trip to the emergency room would have been preferable to continued exposure to Gale's brand of comedy.

Also lighting up the screen was b-movie staple Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith, who practically made a career out of playing flirty cheerleaders. (See also Pom-Pom Girls and The Swinging Cheerleaders.) Smith's real-life pregnancy was worked into the script, but is never really used for much more than a callback at the end, in which a smiling Smith (still clad in a cheerleading uniform) cradles her months-old baby and waves happily to her friends. What message are we supposed to take from this? She's clearly set apart from her teenaged brethren, so apparently her life of cheerleading is over. She looks fairly happy to be a mommy, but without a high school education, evident parental units, or an apparent father for the child, her future outlook is probably pretty grim. But keep smiling, Rainbeaux. After all, it's just a dumb cheerleading movie.

How do you like our A-pad-asaurus?
Teen sex comedies shouldn't have to try terribly hard to entertain, but Revenge of the Cheerleaders makes Zapped! look positively erudite. The dialogue sounds like it was improvised by naughty eight-year-olds and the story is wearyingly stupid. The filmmakers' attitudes towards the audience are almost belligerent, as if they intended to string these idiotic scenes together in order to defy the film's viewers to make sense of them. With such an apparent mean streak going and no particular agenda to fulfill -- cheerleaders are cool, so don't mess with them? -- the movie comes off like an obnoxious toddler who stands in a corner, making farting noises just to gain some attention.
Review date: 07/18/2002

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