Cheerleader Camp (Bloody Pom Poms) (1988)
Cheerleader Camp (Bloody Pom Poms) (1988)

Genre: Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 29 min.

Release Date: June 1st, 1988 MPAA Rating: R

Director: John Quinn Actors: Betsy Russell, Leif Garrett, Lucinda Dickey, Lorie Griffin, Buck Flower, Travis McKenna, Teri Weigel, Rebecca Ferratti, Vickie Benson, Krista Pflanzer, Kathryn Litton

 


 

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ith music (by Murielle Hodler-Hamilton and Joel Hamilton) that sounds marginally reminiscent of “Halloween,” and a dream sequence that finds a young woman stripping, donning a cheerleader uniform, running onto a football field, and then promptly falling into some mud – before spying her parents and then getting sliced up by an unseen assailant – “Cheerleader Camp” initially demonstrates all the fixings for a typical ’80s slasher. Weirdly, many of the following horror moments are too silly (or poorly designed) to be scary. Despite brief bits of blood and violence, the picture is terribly slow to deliver thrills; and when it does, they’re rarely effective.

The dreamer is Alison Wentworth (Betsy Russell), who awakens on the bus ride to Camp Hurrah, where her cheerleading team from Lindo Valley will compete for a chance to go to the State Finals. Cory (Lucinda Dickey), Bonnie (Lorie Griffin), Pamela (Teri Weigel), and Theresa (Rebecca Ferratti) are part of her squad, while Brent (Leif Garrett) serves as a manager (and as Alison’s boyfriend) and the corpulent Timothy (Travis McKenna) manages to keep a camera on him at all times for some unexplained purpose. Once they arrive, coach Dede Tipton (Vickie Benson) takes attendance, while Pop (Buck Flower), perhaps a groundskeeper – a strangely disheveled, portly, dirty old man – creepily sidles up next to the young women.

It’s not long before the girls are basking on some rocks near the water and taking their tops off – all while county sheriff Don Poucher (Jeff Prettyman, who is also the film’s producer) ogles them from a distance with his binoculars. Although the display of flesh is foremost on the agenda, Alison continues to have unnerving visions, mostly involving bloodied bodies, while a real victim turns up in the form of Suzy (Krista Pflanzer), seemingly having committed suicide by cutting her wrists. When Alison isn’t hallucinating the gore, she manages to stumble upon preserved corpses or freshly butchered bodies, thanks to an unreasonable yearning to wander around in cold storage areas or maintenance sheds or the dark woods – alone.

“You’re a mascot, not a human!” When the various protagonists aren’t being killed off or terrorized, the film apportions opportunities for time-wasting shenanigans, such as comical sex (and other unintentionally humorous interactions), general immaturity, unfunny pranks, pitiful rapping, bland partying, and unconvincing cheer rehearsals. As with many slashers like “Cheerleader Camp,” there’s supposed to be a mystery to uncover concerning the serial killer, but – again, like low-budget horror films of the period – the acting, scripting, editing, cinematography, and staging are so pathetic that it’s difficult to care about the plot. This movie in particular becomes an excruciating exercise in waiting for the next death or shot of gratuitous nudity, neither of which are ever really satisfying or better than those seen in its peers.

– Mike Massie

  • 1/10