Movie Review – Satan’s Cheerleaders (1977)
Debbie: Hey, what’s the matter with Patti?
Sharon: Nothing. She’s thinking.
Debbie: Why would anyone want to do that?
Assuming you haven’t already seen this film, indulge me in a little mind game. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine what a film called Satan’s Cheerleaders, filmed in 1977, would be like. What did you see? I’m guessing blood, beasts, and most importantly, boobs (what Harley Poe refers to as “them sacred triple-B’s”). And why wouldn’t you? The title and era evoke the exploitation films that were still in their heyday.
What you actually get in Satan’s Cheerleaders, by low-budget director Greydon Clark, is an overabundance of cheese. Of course, a film should be judged on what it is and not on what one expected of it, but this movie doesn’t offer much, unless you count bad (even for) disco music and languid pacing. In addition to the cute actresses playing the four titular cheerleaders, we have the familiar genre faces of Yvonne De Carlo who, though only twelve years had passed since The Munsters went off the air, seemed centuries away from her charismatic turn as the somehow maternally-sexy Lily Munster, and John Carradine, who at this point in his career was sadly relegated to bit cameos. Carradine, however, as the bum probably puts in the best performance, which isn’t saying much. Also appearing is Sydney Chaplin, son of Charles Chaplin, in his last film role, as a Satanist monk, and he has what amounts to the film’s only successful intentionally humorous lines:
The Sheriff: That damn woman!
Monk: Yes, I know what you mean.
The Sheriff: What, you? You’re a monk!
Monk: Well, I’m very well read… and I dream.
Monk: I dream a lot.
Satan’s Cheerleaders is a lukewarm bit of low-budget comedy-horror that takes its plot cues from exploitation films but forgets to put in the actual exploitation, save for a brief bit of partial nudity. It becomes like watching a porno with the sex cut out, and all you’re left with is the awkward dialogue, stilted delivery, and unfunny sex jokes which remain – you know, the stuff you fast-forward through. If I had had any sense, I would have fast-forwarded through much of this film too.