Cheerleader Camp (DVD)

Misfortunately re-titled from the blunt moniker Bloody Pom Poms, John Quinn’s Cheerleader Camp, on name and marketing alone, baits those itching for a heavy concoction of bare flesh and rampant bloodshed But if they were to slip a dollar into a peep show booth for instant satisfaction from this `80s slasher reject, it’s likely they’d be asking for their money back Camp is skimpy on the flesh and anemic on the kills but has plenty of camp value Whether Quinn’s impetus was to reach such slapstick heights at the time his ’87 directorial debut was made is uncertain with its ambiguous mix of giallo-like plotting and high school-grade acting.

Regardless, Camp remains a miserable cash-in on the teen thrillers that preceded it, provoking you with a juvenile sense of humor that’s like having your brain squashed by a buoyant coed coming down from the top of a pyramid formation cheer routine

David Lee Fein, credited for both story and screenplay here, introduces us to Camp Hurrah, a secluded grounds nestled deep in the woods where some of the state’s (we’re to assume California) finest cheerleading teams converge for a rah-rah face-off Sadly missing are Bring It On‘s Eliza Dushku and Kirsten Dunst, who were probably all of five when this film came out, so we follow Betsy Russell’s Alison Wentworth and her troupe highlighted by the presence of two former Playboy Playmates and one bemused looking Leif Garrett, who plays Alison’s boyfriend Brett All mixed up by “complex emotions” and bad dreams, Alison’s concerns worsen when she fears that Brett’s looking to dip his wick elsewhere. But all that gets pushed aside when a killer begins to off her team’s competition. Director Quinn follows the playbook closely, setting up red herrings where he can Could the killer be the camp’s groundskeeper (the dynamite genre character actor Buck Flower)? The cook? Or maybe it’s the camp’s head counselor? Maybe But the big question mark is: Is Alison behind the murders?

Will you care? Not particularly

Like many of Alison’s dreams (stemming from her annoyingly insecure, high-strung personality), Camp‘s “reality” is littered with surreal, inane moments and wildly uneven characters to fill them Quinn takes the time to show Garrett stuffing his tighty whities with socks to enhance his package Later, another character, believing he’s made it free and clear from the killer, stops in the woods to videotape himself taking a piss . . . before he’s gutted on camera. And let’s not forget the brief, but appreciated, “boob showdown” between actress-turned-Playmate-turned-porn star Teri Weigel and Krista Pflanza Obviously Quinn’s trying to go for the laughs; they just feel out of place, especially within the seriousness with which he approaches the film’s mystery angle and the heavy twist ending The killer and the victims suffer from this tonal indecisiveness, the former being virtually non-existent until the final third of the story and, until then, is only apparent once via POV when a cheerleader is gouged with gardening shears in the back of her noggin’ As a matter of fact, that’s one element that remains consistent despite its sparing use: the good stuff . . the gore. What Camp lacks in suspense and body count it makes up for with its unflinching exhibit of FX excess Don’t feel compelled, by any means, to pick up this flick based on that empty positive note however; even the most hardcore blood freaks may feel they’ve been given the shaft.

Cheerleader Camp
is the type of fodder you would catch late one night with either Gilbert Gottfried or the voluptuous Rhonda Shear serving as host It’s entertainingly bad for the first five minutes or so, but then you’re compelled to change the channel For the accepting horror fan who relishes in “bad `80s horror,” Anchor Bay has put together a definitive disc presentation that carries a clean and colorfully rich 1.77:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer with a sufficient mono soundtrack Director Quinn and Camp producer and co-star Jeff Prettyman pair up for the disc’s lone commentary They tease their fans with sequel talk and delve in the technicalities of their cheapie production while stopping short to reflect on some of the hot bods they hired Apparently Garrett revealed himself to be a true go-getter on the set assisting wherever he could and filling in for actors when his face wouldn’t be shown Listeners will feel a tinge of sadness when Prettyman refers to Buck Flower as being hospitalized at the time of the commentary’s recording as the great actor has since passed away.

Also included on the disc courtesy of Anchor Bay’s determination to be thorough is a trio of trailers (two bearing the Bloody Pom Poms title), an alternate title sequence, behind the scenes photos, and a poster and production stills gallery

Cheerleader Camp
(Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Directed by John Quinn
Starring Betsy Russell, Leif Garrett, Terry Wiegel, Lorie Griffin, Lucinda Dickey, Rebecca Ferratti

Special Features
Audio commentary with John Quinn and Jeff Prettyman
Theatrical Trailers
Alternate Title Sequence
Behind the Scenes Photos
Poster & Still Gallery

2 out of 5

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Jon Condit