Cheerleader Massacre is the straight-to-video third sequel to Slumber Party Massacre, coming fully thirteen years after part 3. I don’t think anyone was really waiting for a fourth Slumber Party film so perhaps wisely, the decision was made to re-title it to play down the negative associations with slasher sequels. It doesn’t make any difference, because whatever it’s called this film is wearyingly poor excuse for entertainment. To say that’s it’s a throwback to the eighties style would be a compliment if I meant to the early 80s slasher heyday. But no, this is a throwback to the death throes of the genre, as epitomised by fare like err, Slumber Party Massacre 2.
With a title like “Cheerleader Massacre”, it’s perhaps not entirely unreasonable to expect to see a group of cheerleaders get massacred. If that’s what you’re after, however, you’ll be disappointed. The twenty-something high-schoolers do undertake (sorry – actually that’s a better gag than in the whole of this film) a spot of cheerleading practice, but they never wear cheerleading costumes, which is frankly rather disappointing. As for the massacre bit, well most of them do die. But sadly, after being stalked for a short time, it’s mostly in unimaginative, bloodless manners that are almost always off-screen. Boo, & indeed hiss. There’s not much of a plot to speak of, something about a group of cheerleaders, some of whom die early on, who go on a trip somewhere (although not the dead ones, obviously) only to get stranded in a deserted house in the middle of nowhere. Oh, & there’s an escaped maniac on the loose & the only man who can catch him is the now-retired man who brought him in last time. So, nice & original then. But lack of originality isn’t always that much of a problem in the horror genre, where it’s not so much the plot but how it’s all put together that’s the key. And that’s where CM fails completely. As stated above, the kills are (with one decapitation – shown only in aftermath – being a poorly executed exception) dull & off-screen, whilst the stalk sequences are almost entirely suspense free. After a mildly amusing opening, the film completely stalls with trying to get the cheerleaders to the house, focusing instead on the boring & poorly written efforts by the police to trace the killer. The conclusion contains an entirely expected shock twist, & can barely break through the tedium to the level of mildly diverting.
What’s particularly irksome about this film is that it does seem to have a decent amount of resources – certainly there are enough names credited on the end titles. With thirteen years to come up with ideas, it’s hard to believe this is the best they could come up with. Just imagine what a Raimi or Jackson could have done with these resources, & it’s plain why in an over-crowded dtv market & at a time when horror seems to be really rediscovering it’s edge, the tame & resolutely unoriginal Cheerleader Massacre just doesn’t cut it.
Cheerleader Massacre’s sole virtue (as played to by the packaging of this UK release) is in its large cast of large-breasted females, almost all of who get naked at one point (although I don’t recall any of them giving good performances). No matter whether they’re supposed to be teen students or teachers, all the women seem to be twenty-something (at least), & wear clothing as revealing as possible. At it’s most gratuitous (an entirely unnecessary – and surprisingly dull – scene with three lesbians in a bath with chocolate sauce), it becomes clear what Cheerleader Massacre actually is – soft-core porn masquerading as horror for those who are too cowardly to get the real thing.
Incidentally, the score – referencing everything from Alexander Nevsky to Alien – is credited to Dan Savio. However, it sounds to me not entirely unlike James Horner’s “Humanoids from the Deep” & “Battle Beyond the Stars” scores. Try to imagine how a big orchestral sci-fi action score plays in a cheap slasher flick, & you’ll appreciate why the music sounds totally out of place.
The UK DVD is in R2/PAL format, & comes from Film 2000. It contains an adequate 1.33:1 transfer, which I assume to be the correct ratio, & decent enough audio. In keeping with all Film 2000’s releases, extras are a trailer only. The US disc does have a director’s commentary, but the lesbian bath scene is cut out & presented as a deleted scene – the UK version has this scene in the film proper.