or VHS: video house safari


For those just tuning in: what I'm doing in this series is heading down to the local video store and finding interesting movies I've never heard of. For younger readers, a "video store" is an establishment that you can walk or drive to and rent Video Home System cassettes, also known as VHS tapes, from an actual person and take it home for your own entertainment purposes (you gotta bring it back to the store when you're done, though.)

I'm basing my selections on the outrageous video boxes, the kind that helped us decide whether a movie looked like it was worth our time back in the days before the internet started telling us everything there is to know about every film before they're even released. Then I'm writing about my VHS safari.

It's not nostalgic - it's just awesome.

{the VIDEO ODDITIES index}

video oddity #6:

greydon clark, 1977

Happy Columbus Day everybody! Say, did you ever think about how this is pretty much the only national holiday NOT subjected to the horror movie treatment? There's at least one blood-soaked thriller covering Valentine's Day, Memorial Day, April Fool's Day, Easter, Mother's Day, Halloween of course, Thanksgiving (care of Eli Roth), not to mention a slew of Christmas-themed slashers. The 4th of July has its Uncle Sam and St Patrick's Day its Leprechaun series. Friday the 13th isn't even a recognized holiday and yet has a dozen movies dedicated to it. Even President's Day got its eponymous horror movie released this year to compliment The Tripper. And isn't the "fancy, urbanized outsiders setting foot into uncivilized territory filled with backwoods natives" formula one of the most popular of horror movie tropes? It seems a demonized rendition of the landing of the Santa Maria in which the indigenous race doesn't respond well to the imperialization of their land and break out the serrated sticks, ready to take out the explorers one by one would be ripe for treatment by some up-and-coming horror director...Get on it Hollywood!

There's no holiday associated with today's selection, unless of course you consider the Black Day of the Beast a holiday! Some may accuse me of going back to the well, following a Satan-themed Video Oddity with yet another Satan-themed Video Oddity, but I say I'm going back to the HELL (yuck yuck). I had actually planned to follow up The Killing of Satan with the Dutch serial killer thriller Amsterdamned, but October rolled around too quickly and I needed a more conventional horror film for this year's Second Annual Halloween Video Oddity (if this can truly be called "more conventional.") Besides, while the infernal question "What power should a man possess to challenge the Prince of Darkness?" is fresh in readers' minds, I wanted to counter with yet another cryptogram: if the tubby, tuxedoed Beelzeblub of The Killing of Satan had cheerleaders on the sideline during his final fight with Lando, would he have gained the confidence to defeat the denim-clad hero? Sadly I fear we'll never know how the presence of a pep squad would have swayed the outcome of that epic confrontation.

It was Tex Schramm's provocative revamping of the 1970s Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders (for one thing, he changed it to an all-female squad) that led to a score of Cheersploitation films over the course of the decade. Titles like The Cheerleaders (1972), The Swinging Cheerleaders (1974), Revenge of the Cheerleaders (1975), The Pom Pom Girls (1976), Cheerleaders Beach Party (1978) and Cheerleaders Wild Weekend (1979) aka The Great American Girl Robbery (cheerleader bus gets hijacked by terrorists) flooded the market, and of course Debbie Does Dallas (1978) became the most notorious and profitable of the bunch. This then must have been an attempt to branch out and market to both creepy dudes with a fetish for spanky pants and pom poms as well as sad sacks living in their mother's basements, emerging only to attend a double feature of horror flicks at the local drive-in. Or, it could just be a movie about the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders themselves, who are certainly Satan's cheerleaders (that would actually be the imaginatively-titled 1979 TV movie Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, which is about an ambitious reporter infiltrating the Cowboys cheerleader tryouts in hopes of exposing the sexism behind the organization but ultimately coming to respect the noble profession).

I was hoping more than anything that Satan's Cheerleaders would turn out to be a movie about Lucifer possessing an entire football squad who become an undefeatable force, but their evil off-field antics include such devilish behavior as murdering dogs, raping unconscious women in bathrooms and beating up strippers in Vegas with Nelly that they bring negative responses from the public. It takes the combined efforts of the wily cheerleading squad to perform their own unique version of an exorcism on the players and divert their attention back to good Christian morals and, most importantly, the fundamentals of the game. Another acceptable plot would be Old Scratch going out for the team himself. Frustrated after years of his favorite franchise finishing dead last, the devil takes over the body of the wide receiver and uses his powers to lead the team into the playoffs. (I should consider saving that plot for a script called Possession with the tagline "Get the ball to Satan!") Popping the video tape in, my main concern was that Lucifer wouldn't come into play at all, that it would be a standard teen exploitation flick about a group of evil cheerleaders who flaunt their good looks and popularity on some innocent kids and ultimately get their comeuppance in the form of a loss to the geeky kids at some annual cheerleader's regatta or something, ending with the lead nerd (played by a hot actress in glasses) quipping "Take that, Satan's cheerleaders!" to the triumphant hooting of her dweeby gang.

That worry at least was quickly dispelled by the opening scene, in which some dimly-lit characters wearing robes with pointy hoods (the big difference between monks and druids, the pointy hood) are gathered around a craggy tree chanting what will become their much-repeated phrase "Audi precis mea, Satana - blessed be!" ("Hear my prayers Satan"). So unless they're a bunch of hipster posers the "Satan" aspect of the title has been validated. The next scene is on the beach, where a gang of cheerleaders are practicing, perhaps ill-advisedly, in the sand as pink Valley of the Dolls-style titles appear on screen. So now we know the title is not a metaphor - there are actual cheerleaders in this movie, who are either under Satan's power or work for Satan or, if the title is misspelled, for Stan. We also know that the movie has officially stated that it is a comedy from the bubble gum font used in the opening credits, which means this film falls squarely between the unabashed cheapies of Roger Corman and the self-aware black comedies that would come to populate the horror genre of the early 80's.

On the beach we meet the cheerleading outfit of the Benedict High Huskies: their bleach-blonde leader Patti, smart ass Chris, Sharon, affectionately known as "The Big One," and Debbie, who is naturally the most sexually active of the bunch (although this film predates the porno). They're a tight-knit outfit with the unifying slogan "All for one?" "And one for all!" (they ought to trademark that). Their uniforms aren't the blood-red tights from the cover of the video box: instead, they're cheap-looking white shirts with each girl's name emblazoned in large letters on the chest and a flimsy blue skirt beneath*. Still, it's better than the alternate VHS cover where they have white tops covering noticeably flat chests (see next page). The girls are savvy and self-aware of their mental limitations - they think Keats are what boys wear on the bottom of their shoes - and, most prominently, viciously conscious of their duties as a gang of snobby, slutty cheerleaders. Their coach is the hopelessly simple Ms. Johnson, earnestly devoted to her girls even if she can't keep up with their verbal repartee. Now why a squad of four cheerleaders would even require an adult coach is beyond me, but since there only seem to be four guys on the football team anyway I guess the numbers work out ok. They're horsing around with the jocks by the water, making the occasional pit stop to the nearby bushes, when their rivals from Baker High show up to make trouble. Unlike the East Compton Clovers, these Baker babes don't appear to have been provoked to antagonism - it's just a good old fashioned inter-school beef. They also want to practice on the beach (is it really that common a location for cheerleaders to practice?), but the Benedict High four hold their ground, insisting they own the beach and politely pointing out the Baker kid's breach of etiquette. In short order there's a cheerleader from each squad straddling the shoulders of a running back, batting at their opponent in a fierce game of "chicken" for who gets to stay and, uh, practice on the beach.

As I said, the movie openly states its comedic intentions with the brightly colored, tongue-in-cheek title font, but this introduction to our heroines manages to fumble more jokes than it brings in. The Keats line is all right, but the rest are a little elusive if not flat-out nonsensical. For one thing, it's mentioned that Benedict High is located in the town of Arnold...get it? That's some revolutionary humor for you there. When the football players and cheerleaders challenge their rivals to the decisive game of "chicken," the lead Baker girl complains that she has more to lose: her car is much nicer than the one the Benedict teens would put up to be potentially totaled. This is meant to be funny - she thought they meant drive their cars into each other at high speed, but what they actually meant was climbing on each other's shoulders and slapping each other until one of them fell pathetically to sand. If someone told me they wanted to "play chicken," I would definitely assume they meant the car version and be completely thrown off that they expected me to understand that they meant for me to climb on their shoulders and start wailing on someone up on somebody else's shoulders. Even the moronic Ms. Johnson seems amused that the kids don't understand what "play chicken" means, but it's completely acceptable that they would be confused.

The football coach shows up on the beach, appalled at his players' liberal expenditure of their "precious bodily fluids" and puts an end to the shenanigans. Here's another point where the movie lost me: I was under the impression that football players had a certain respect for their coaches, but these guys treat him like he's wearing a pocket calculator instead of a whistle. "I'm tired of that Vince Lombardi cupcake," says Stevie the star running back. Patti and the gang rally to humiliate this poor guy's libido, informing him of his impotent impact on the team by stating, "Without Stevie there's no team...without the team there's no game...without the game there's no cheerleaders...without the cheerleaders there's no ass for you to gawk at!" Since the cheerleaders are on Stevie's side, it's weird that he sets up an elaborate trick to have the coach walk into the cheerleaders' locker room in the company of a crusty old dean he's trying to impress without their fore-knowledge. Not to mention baffling - doesn't the coach of the football team know which locker room is which? If he had his clothes laid out in the morning and someone snuck inside the bedroom and switched them around, would he try to put his arms through the pant legs and his legs through the sleeves? Of course not (I'm assuming). At any rate, this perplexingly successful prank ends up with the coach suspending the running back (aren't coaches supposed to try their best NOT to get their players suspended?) causing the cheerleaders to verbally throttle him further. All this seems like a waste of energy when the players and girls should be focusing on defeating Baker High, especially when the Baker pep squad embarks on an ambitious mission to TP the entire school (in actuality just the field goal posts).

The only real victim of this war is the janitor, forced to clean up the remnants of Baker's assault while the cheerleaders saunter off the field all hoity toity. We immediately sort of recognize this guy as one of the chanting devil worshipers from the beginning of the film. That's right - this movie is really the sad tale of Billy Blanks, a stuttering, put-upon janitor who, having apparently suffered years of humiliation at the hands of perky young cheerleaders, has joined a Satanic cult to seek his revenge through the use of black magic! This is uncommon for janitors in cinema: there was that dude from The Breakfast Club who confessed to Judd Nelson, "I look through your letters, I look through your lockers, I listen to your conversations." Creepy, but no on-screen dealings with Satan. Then the 80's were full of noble, wizened janitors with abilities beyond toilet-cleaning from Mr. Miyagi to floor-sweeper turned ass-kicker Lou Gossett Jr. in The Principal. Whereas those curmudgeon-y custodians put their faith in a gangly kid from Jersey and an alcoholic James Belushi, respectively, this guy has thrown in with the Prince of Darkness himself (an alternative title to the movie could be Swept Away by Satan). Yelling at their backs as they exit the field, "You all think you're so smart, doncha? Well you ain't! You ain't so d-d-damn smart after all! You just w-w-wait and see!", Billy seems certain of two things: 1) cheerleaders have a reputation for being smart, and 2) these particular cheerleaders are deserving of some ungodly retribution!

Academy Award nominee Jack Krushen joins Jackie Vernon in the ignoble line of character actors forced into repulsive predatory late-career roles as Billy, who wears a jean shirt with sparkling rhinestones that barely covers his protruding gut. I felt embarrassed for Krushen while watching his hammy performance, a clumsy dance of peering and sneering, but then realized that I wouldn't know how to direct him to play this kind of part correctly. Too light a touch and the character doesn't come off menacing enough, too goofy and you end up like Arthur Storch in The Strange One. So I guess Krushen more or less strikes the perfect balance in between. That doesn't make him any less gross to look at, with his sweat-drenched double chin resting obscenely below a dirty white duster 'stache. His janitor is definitely a creep, spying on the girls in the shower through a secret grate and lusting after the porcelain doll-ish Patti in particular, so it's hard to sympathize with him when the jocks mockingly refer to him as a "pre-vert" after catching him chanting a curse on the cheerleader's clothes in the locker room. Come on guys, he's not sniffing the under-aged girls' underwear - he's just performing a hex on it which will eventually lead to a Satan-provided sexual encounter with the cheerleaders! See? Totally different. Besides, his carnal urgencies are overwhelmed by his homidical ones. He wants to kill everyone - Satan is good, Satan is his pal.

Of course movies like this from the 70's were littered with aging stars of the silver screen, and Krushen is joined by John Carradine, who had coincidentally popped up in Shock Waves while I was watching that Nazi zombie classic the other day. As in that film, Carradine comes off better than anyone else in the cast with his two scenes of sparse dialogue as a roadside drifter mumbling how he knows "the secret!" Remember that very memorable part near the end of Stagecoach where Carradine holds the gun to Louise Platt's head, ready to use his last bullet on her to spare her torment at the red hands of the vicious Apache, only to have the weapon go limp in his grasp as he himself is felled by an arrow to the back? This movie has a similarly memorable scene, just kidding. Nothing he does here is particularly memorable. Tossing the bottle overboard in Shock Waves was actually more memorable than anything he does in this film. Still, nice of him to show up.

Things start moving in some direction or another once Ms. Johnson and the girls find their car Satanically-stalled en route to the big Baker game. Billy is conveniently passing by in his pick-up truck and offers them a lift, snickering in the driver's seat "This isn't a car - it's a pick-up! And I just picked me up some cheerleaders who're gonna get what's comin' to 'em!" He takes them out to an isolated clearing in the woods with a ceramic goat's head precariously-stationed atop a flimsy wooden alter. Before he can make his move, Patti is hypnotized into removing her clothes and offering herself to the invisible force coming out of the goat's head. It's not really clear what happens here, and doesn't help that immediately afterwards all the girls lose their memories of what occurred, but apparently the devil uses his mystic version of a date rape drug to score with the lead cheerleader, which has the aftereffect of providing Patti with witch-like powers. Billy chides the devil for cockblocking him and is consequently zapped into having an apparently fatal red-tinted heart attack by the will of Satan.

BILLY: hot and bothered for eternity

Bewildered by the experience, the girls wander off and end up looking for help at a house owned by the leader of the worst devil cult ever. Academy Award nominee John Ireland plays Sheriff B.L. Bubb (does he live in Nilbog next to Dr. Acula?), who is delighted to find so many potential sacrificial lambs turning up on his doorstep. "Think about it," he excitedly tells Academy Award nominee Yvonne De Carlo. "The blood of an unsoiled maiden will flow into the jeweled chalase!" Bubb is all talk however: he's like a goth kid in his love of Satan. He has a bunch of pentagrams, a hippy health food store's share of candles and two Doberman Pinchers** named Diablo and Lucifer (at first I thought he called them "Diablo and Christopher" - I thought it was funny that one would have a Satanic-themed name while the other one would have just a regular name). Come to think of it, he probably changed his own name - it was probably something like Sheriff Caleb Hodgekiss and he decided to legally change it to something that would make him seem more "down" with Satan. Probably still goes to see Ozzy when he comes to the local outdoor performing arts center, then when he gets drunk with his buddies pulls out Iron Maiden lyrics and tries to blow their minds with all the hidden meanings he's discerned from them while his friends egg on him on out of sheer amusement. Poor guy.

After returning to the scene of the devil's love session with Patti and dispatching a recovered Billy by tossing him down a hill and shouting "GERONIMO!" Bubb gets the community together for a good old fashioned black mass. But this town isn't the population of Summerisle: they don't really have their act together and apparently haven't ever participated in an actual sacrifice (I'm sure Satan's stance would be, "I'm not with these people.") So they're convenient to have around when the cheerleaders try to run away from the sheriff and his wife, but their Satanic cult is like a hastily-organized book club, and Bubb treats the cheerleaders' presence like he just accidentally scored Tom Clancy as a guest speaker. "Hey guys, check this out - I saw Tom Clancy pumping gas down at the Mobil, and he totally said he'd show up for our book club today! That's right, I'm the one who made it happen - make sure to text everybody in the group, it's gonna be off the hook. We good for beer? Tom and I both like beer." He seems completely frustrated with their disorganization and fails to heed his De Carlo's warnings that Patti has powerful forces at her whim, assuming that his wife is just envious of the younger woman: "Marry them, make them a High Priestess, give them all the power, and what happens? They become stupid and jealous!" he complains out loud to nobody in particular.

As a horror film, Satan's Cheerleaders is either willfully incompetent or simply incapable of understanding how to make a devil worshipping sect made up of middle-aged white trash threatening in the slightest. Once they escape from the house, Chris, Sharon and Debbie all manage to run into members of the cult - it's like an entire town filled with variations on Texas Chain Saw's Cook - while Ms. Johnson is molested and supposedly raped by a frustrated Sheriff Bubb. The girls should have no problem escaping any of these slow-witted, slow-moving yokels, yet somehow manage to be brought back for the big sacrifice. Of course none of the members of the squad fit the bill (cue Sharon's memorable line ""Are you kidding me, I'm no maiden. I been a cheerleader for three years!") and Patti turns into black magic woman, turning the powers of Satan against Bubb for violating the "one true virgin," the inexperienced Ms. Johnson. A resurrected Billy gets revenge on Bubb, the members of the shabby sect scatter, and the scene abruptly shifts to the big Baker game where Stevie's injury is miraculously healed by Patti from the sidelines. So the last scene kind of ends up being a mixture of what I thought the plot might be before starting the movie, with Patti using her devil seed magic to tip the course of the football game. The movie ends with the amusing final line, "I don't think we're going to lose any games this season..."

As it turns out, Satan's Cheerleaders is less ponerological than it is anthropological. By studying the group dichotomy of the Benedict High cheerleading squad in comparison to that of B.L. Bubb's rag tag team of Satan-loving trailer trolls, the director makes some interesting conclusions about social paradigms. The Huskie women do everything together, whether it's participating in regularly-scheduled practices and team meetings or goofing around on the beach, even choosing to make out under the bleachers with the other girls in attendance and carpooling together to the big game. The cult, on the other hand, all live within arm's length of each other yet bicker anonymously like strangers and congress only in poorly-run, poorly-lit black masses where nobody seems to know what they're doing. Both collectives have their recurring chants: the cult its "Audi precis mea, Satana," the cheerleaders their "One for all!" routine, and it's obvious which of those is the more co-dependent statement. Clearly the cheerleaders are a close unit and their small number suggests elitism in the gang - there's no deformed, hunchbacked wanna-be cheerleader trying to get on the team they coldly dismiss like in 300 but it's a cheerleading squad so you gotta assume the normal standards of eligibility apply. The cult would appear to offer open enrollment considering every bumpkin in the county is a member, but none of them understand the power of Satan and, like the Nazis who tried to harvest the awesome power of the Arc of the Covenant, ultimately pay for their ignorance. The cheerleaders, on the other hand, are not only good at what they do, they manage (quite incidentally) to steal the unholy powers of hell to help them enhance the performance of their own football team! All thanks to Patti, who used her cheerleader's "talents" to sway the horny devil into granting her the dark magic to make it happen. Basically the film's conclusion is that the more conformative the group structure, the more successful: cheerleading is a publicly sanctioned and therefore acceptable display of open sexuality and competition, whereas the subversive act of devil worshiping is just too out there to work...EXCEPT in the context of said publicly-accepted group activity. Hence the most powerful group of them all: Satan's cheerleaders! (All this is funny because, to me, the thought of my daughter becoming a cheerleader is every bit as cringe-inducing as the idea of her joining a mediocre devil worshipping sect.)

I'm sure the filmmakers thought of these characters as symbols of powerful, modern young women from the way everyone around them acts affronted by their supposedly unflappable personalities, their flippant quips on promiscuity and awareness and embracement of the worst cheerleading stereotypes. They seem "enlightened," but really they're just completely mean. In their first scene they're the ones who instigate the fight against the Baker kids by claiming the opposing squad is on "our beach." Where are they from, Connecticut? All four of the girls are being cheertators in that scene, more hateable assholes than relatable heroines (in an unrelated observation, the head cheerleader from Baker High is better looking than any of the "good" cheerleaders). They're bad enough when competing with members of the same sex, but outright awful when it comes to taunting every male character from the football coach to the addled janitor with their sexuality like the slutty villains of a Troma movie (I'm not willing to attest that they don't spend their off-camera time running down kids in their car). Even deranged hermit John Carradine, whose mind is probably more on where to find a can opener than scoping out underaged girls' cans, is subjected to the squad flaunting their bodies in his direction and then instantly reprimanding him for ogling what's on display, ostensibly falling into their trap (their "tramp trap"). For all this sexual confidence and entrapment, it doesn't shield them from being easily victimized; just because they remain smart-assy in captivity doesn't mean they aren't being held against their will by an incompetent devil cult that would gladly murder them if they could just get their act together. These ladies are just lucky they didn't meet up with the 'saw family, is all I'm saying (those guys may not have had their act together either, but they did have giant mallets and chainsaws, and the wherewithal to use them.) The more sexually available, the stupider they are - Debbie is so dumb that during her escape she runs to a Satanic priest fully decked out in robes, pointy hood and pentagram necklace for help as he's feeding his chickens (do most Satanic priests casually feed their chickens while wearing ceremonial robes? I guess devil worshiping could be a fetish for this guy. That's entirely possible.)

That's another thing: just because these cheerleaders let their moron flag fly doesn't mean they aren't just flat-out morons. "She's thinking." "Why would anyone want to do THAT?" is an example of the unapologetic display of full-on stupidity they maintain throughout the film. When the car breaks down, they take turns verifying "Yup - there's gotta be a motor in there," acknowledging their awareness of how a car functions but their complete lack of motor skills...four times over. At the same time the girls seem quick-witted compared to Ms. Johnson, who at first seems like an acid burn-out but after a while just appears to have the mentality of an infant when responding to the girls' corny innuendo. I can't recall any specific examples, but they're along the lines of "Stevie and I are going to go roll in the hay." "Really? I didn't know Stevie was a farmer." There are literally dozens of exchanges like that between the cheerleaders and their coach until you want to yell at the screen, "Oh come on, is Ms. Johnson that infuriatingly naive or is she genuinely retarded?!" Her simplicity is what makes the second rape scene, after Patti's tryst with Satan which could be construed as at least partially consensual, all the more disturbing in the middle of this alleged "comedy." Her reaction to Sheriff Bubb tearing her blouse off is to gawk haplessly, making it seem like the scene is meant to be played for laughs. Not to mention the nasty moment where Billy grabs one of Ms. Johnson's breasts and she barely responds to the assault. In the world of Satan's Cheerleaders, women are either sexually aggressive to the point of shriveling a man's libido to the size of a prune until he joins a Satanic cult to exact revenge on them or so absurdly simple-minded they literally don't understand what's happening when they're being violated. It's a shame that the movie confuses assertiveness with strength, but even more offensive that its dumb female character is horribly abused for laughs. As a comedy it doesn't work, it almost doesn't fit in the category of horror movie, yet it manages to make light of some pretty horrific situations. Something must have been funny though - just look at the actress playing Sharon trying her damnedest not to laugh during the climatic black mass scene.

or what i later learned

Robin Greer (Man Trouble) as the more attractive Baker girl

This movie has an Australian band and an Austin-based performance art group (who apparently disbanded in 2007) named after it as well as a fansite dedicated to it, complete with a frequently asked questions page (really? Do people frequently ask about this movie?) While the website proved an invaluable source of reference in the writing this article - turns out even with their names strewn across their chests the entire movie I still couldn't remember who each cheerleader was - it's overly apologetic. The guy who runs the site seems smart and knowledgeable of the film (and provides the only stills I could find anywhere on the internet) but he's too damn defensive of the movie. Dude, if you like the film enough to dedicate an entire website to it, don't waste time reminding your readers that you KNOW it's a terrible movie but who cares you love it anyway etc. If you love the movie, just love the movie. Make no apologies for what you love! Anyway, the site includes a trailer for the movie with the notable narration "Nobody's perfect, even Satan's cheerleaders!" I for one was unaware that there was any expectation of quality from a cheerleading squad affiliated with the devil, but it's good to know they err as much as the rest of us.

The director is Greydon Clark, who got his start working as an actor in such Al Adamson classics as Hell's Bloody Devils and Satan's Sadists ("What if," he possibly mentioned to Al back in the glory days, "We make them CHEERLEADERS instead of SADISTS?") His first directing chores were on the blaxploitation epics The Bad Bunch and Black Shampoo. He'd go on to helm such diverse fare as the Joe Don Baker slasher parody Wacko, the Joe Don Baker let's-save-the-video-arcade sex romp Joysticks, and the Joe Don Baker revenge flick Final Justice. He also did Lambada: The Forbidden Dance for Golan & Globus, which weirdly enough had to have been the lowest point of his career.

The movie was shot by future Academy Award-nominee Dean Cundey, who also did Black Shampoo and Hi-Riders for Greydon Clark and would go on to become cameraman of choice for John Carpenter (Halloween, Big Trouble in Little China) and Robert Zemekis (Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) He also shot Jurassic Park for Spielberg and Apollo 13 for Ron Howard, but his earlier work, including Bare Knuckles and Ilsa: Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks, is clearly his most charming.

The robed Satanic priest feeding his chickens was played by Sydney Chaplin, son of Charlie Chaplin, who was once quoted as saying "I never had the burning desire for recognition and respect that had driven my father." Based on his appearance in this film I can only say, "obviously." He retired from acting after his stint in Satan's Cheerleaders.

None of the cheerleaders themselves went on to prestigiuous careers - not even Kerry Sherman, the only one of the three who consented to shed her top in not one but three different scenes (although she had small parts in 1941 and 48 Hours). The movie came out with a PG rating, but apparenly Kerry's inhabition did not go unnoticed and it hit video stores with a newly-appointed R.

Despite the tagline on the movie's original poster, I did not find it either "funnier than The Omen" or "scarier than Silent Movie." (But good job getting the uniforms right, poster.)

~ OCTOBER 30, 2010 ~
* The video box appears to make up for this wardrobe inconsistency by including the tagline "At Benedict High, all hell's about to break loose!" The specific naming of the school seems to boast, "See? We actually watched the movie!" even though technically most of the action takes place away from the school itself.
** I'm glad the film seizes the opportunity to also exploit the other 70's film craze, the Doberman Pincher caper movie. See: The Doberman Gang, The Daring Dobermans, The Amazing Dobermans and Alex and the Doberman Gang (no yeah - SEE them, I'm recommending them to you). There's also Kinji Fukasaku's Detective Doberman from 1977 with Sonny Chiba, but I don't think there are any actual dogs in that one.