Thursday, December 28, 2017

SATAN'S CHEERLEADERS (1976) (VCI Blu-ray Review)


Label: VCI Entertainment

Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 92 minutes 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78.1)
Audio: English LPCM 2.0 Mono  with Optional English Subtitles
Director: Greydon Clark
Cast: John Ireland, Yvonne De Carlo, Jack Kruschen, John Carradine, Sydney Chaplin

Horny cheerleaders and a cult of Devil worshipers collide in this fantastic slice of drive-in exploitation from low budget director Greydon Clark (Without Warning) who begins the film with a fun beach scene of horny bikini-clad cheerleaders playing a game of very touchy football with the school football team.  The frustrated coach implores the boys to save their "precious bodily fluids" for the big game tomorrow, but the cheer squad have other plans, and the jocks will be scoring long before tomorrow's big rival game, and drained of the precious bodily fluids.

The following day the cheerleaders and their air-headed PE coach (Jacqueline Cole) are en route to the big game when they're car breaks down on the side of the road, luckily for them Billy (Jack Kruschen), the school janitor happens along and offers them a ride. What they don't know is that Billy is a sequin-studded peeping tom who regularly spies on the naked cheerleaders through a peephole in the shower room, and he has no intention of transporting them to the game. He whisks them away to his Satanic altar out in the middle of nowhere, revealing his plan to sacrifice the horny teens in the name of Satan ...and get his rocks off in the process. Unfortunately for old Billy things don't go as planned, a cheerleaders named Patti (Kerry Sherman) strips nude and lays on the altar and is raped by the Beelzebub, causing Billy to throw a bit of tantrum off to the side, screaming that this was not the plan! There are corny red flashes on screen and Billy drops dead, seems making a deal with Old Scratch never goes as planned. Now slightly dazed poor Patty is transformed by the Satan-rape experience, becoming a sinister disciple of Satan. 

The girls make off with Billy's truck and encounter a bum on the side of the road, played by b-movie hero/legend  John Carradine (The House of Seven Corpses), who directs them into the town of Nether where they find Sheriff B.L. Bubb (John Ireland, Red River) and his wife. Emily, played by Yvonne Decarlo, whom you might better know as Lily from TV's The Munsters, but who had definitely seen better days at this point in her career, having appeared in a string of low-budget dreck already. In a turn straight out of Race With the Devil the Sheriff turns out to be the leader of the satanic cult and he and his devil-worshiping wife plan to make a virgin sacrifice of their own at the stroke of midnight. There's only one problem, these cheerleaders have not been virgins for quite some time, which throws a wrench into the diabolical plans of the hayseed Satanists. 

Satan's Cheerleaders is a very silly and camp-infused seventies slice of Satanic cinema with oodles of poor acting and unintentional hilarity, it is truly am awful film but  manages to be immensely entertaining for those very same reasons, it's just ridiculous fun. These teen-ladies do not have an ounce of talent between them but they are super cute and very easy on the eyes, I just love these horny 70's babes. Add in phoned-in performances from b-movie stars John Carradine, John Ireland and Yvonne Decarlo and you have the makings of b-movie romp that's ready for ridicule with a few brews and a roomful of drunk friends, which really is the only way to watch something this bad. Of note, this was one of cinematographer Dean Cundey's early features, he would go onto a very storied career beginning with John Carpenter Halloween just a few year's later but don't go in expecting this to be an early example of his visual artistry, it's not. 

Audio/Video: Satan's Cheerleaders arrives on 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo from VCI who upgrade their previous 2015 widescreen DVD with a 1080p HD image framed in 1.78:1 widescreen, derived from a "new 2K scan from the original 35mm negative". The results are an upgrade over the previous standard definition release, though it is soft with muted colors, but still an improvement over what has come before. The source has some issues by way of speckling and print damage, and other minor issues that pop-up, it doesn't look like an image derived from the OCN to my eyes, grain structure is inconsistent, looking heavy at times and bereft in others, there's been some aggressive DNR applied in spots, but it's uneven. Audio comes by way of LPCM Mono 2.0 track with optional English subtitles. There's some wear on the audio track by way of hiss and pops, but overall it's not too bad, a bit boxy but perfectly listenable.  

Onto the extras VCI carry-over the photo gallery and the audio commentary from director Greydon Clark that accompanied their 2015 widescreen DVD edition, he tends to be technical and overly serious when discussing such a silly movie, but he does offer plenty of making-of anecdotes and behind-the-scenes info that fans of the film might enjoy. New stuff exclusive to this release comes by way of an audio commentary from Director David DeCoteau (Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge) and film historian David Del Valle, who are huge film buffs and offer up a lot of trivia about the film, director and cast. VCI also offer up an alternate version of the film, something titled "Original Transfer", not sure what the provenance for this is but the image is very similar to the "restored" version, a few more blemishes but not much more to my eyes, it doesn't look like a raw scan of the negative either, so it would be interesting to have more information about the source. 

This dual format release comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a one-sided sleeve of artwork, closely mirroring the key artwork from VCI's previous DVD release with some minor alterations, mostly by way of black banners with white lettering advertising that the film is widescreen and uncut, from a 2K scan of the negative. The 2-discs feature the same artwork, an excerpts from the sleeve.  

Special Features: 
- Commentary track with the director, Greydon Clark.
- Commentary track with genre film director David DeCoteau (Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge) and film historian and Journalist, David Del Valle.
- Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery (3 min) 

Satan's Cheerleaders (1977) is a silly slice of 70's cheerleader/devil-worshiping cinema that's sure to have your eyes rolling back in your head with loads unintentional camp and awful acting, but I wouldn't change a thing about it other than to say more nudity wouldn't have made it better, just more fun.


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