I have a love of the camp horror-genre. Yes, I firmly believe it is its own genre. All you have to do is look at its roots in the Eighties. It was peppered with camp films from the kind where friendships are formed, heartbreak happens, and the outsiders find they are champions. Then there is the horror side of the camp genre, where you can find yourself a victim just because you are out past curfew.
Last week we kicked of the July Film Series: Happy Horrific Summer, Campers! with the classic film Piranha. Though it focuses on a whole region terrorized by genetically modified carnivorous fish, the camp scene in that film is such a stand out that it easily earned its place in this series. It's the Jaws of camp movies and even Steven Spielberg gave his stamp of approval. However, the camp element is only part of the film, which is why today we shift into gear to a movie set entirely at a camp. Of course, like the horror genre as a whole, there are some films that keep you on the edge of your seat and some that fall into the good-bad category. These films could be classified as bad, but there is a quality about the ridiculousness that make them fun to watch and make fun of with friends. Today's film falls into that category. Yet - it has an important place in the camp horror genre. So, let's dive in - no, better yet, let's somersault, cartwheel, or backflip our way into Cheerleader Camp (1988).
Cheerleader Camp (originally titled Bloody Pom Poms)
That's right. Today we are visiting Camp Hurrah! Who doesn't want to go to this cheerleading camp, with its lack of staff, no structure or forced activities (besides cheering, sunbathing, and oh, getting murdered. Give me a "K" / give me an "I" / give me an "L" / give me another "L" - what's that spell? Well, of course, we would want to skip the last part of Camp Hurrah. I firmly believe that the Toros and the Clovers would take down the killer in a Cheerleader Camp - Bring it On mashup. However, these cheerleaders (who hail from Lindo Valley) are more interested in being the next Miss Cheerleader USA (the Queen competition) than sticking together to win the team prize. Where is their team spirit, huh?
The story revolves around Alison (Betsy Russell), the head cheerleader who is troubled by recurring bad dreams and a untrustworthy boyfriend, Brent (Leif Garrett) who tries to cheat on Alison with every character played by a Playmate (this is a fact, all the girls who get naked in this movie either worked for Playboy or Penthouse). She finds comfort in the team's mascot and her cabin bunkmate Cory (Lucinda Dickey), who even convinces Alison to stop taking whatever medication she is using to calm her nerves (are you sure about that Alison?).
The squad is rounded out by Pam (Teri Weigel) who wants not only to win the Queen competition but also wants to hook up with Brent, Theresa (Rebecca Ferratti) whose apparent role is being Pam's best friend, Bonnie (Lorie Griffin) who falls into the dizzy stereotype cheerleader category - but actually is the nicest person in the whole film, and Timmy (Travis McKenna). I really do not understand the person of the character Timmy. Loud, obnoxious, peeping-tom, Timmy.
The camp only has three members of staff, which seems a bit low. There's the clipboard wielding Miss Tipton (Vickie Benson) who immediately discredits the Lindo Valley squad. Then you have the grounds/maintenance man called Pop (George 'Buck' Flower) who they have play up a sort of hayseed role, then a quiet chef who is also portrayed as creepy. Even the local Sheriff (Jeff Prettyman) is a bit of a joke and easily distracted by the events at the camp.
Despite the large body count of this film, I believe the mutual consensus is the most horrific scene revolves around a cheerleader rap, which you can see in the trailer. Now, you definitely want to watch the trailer, right? And maybe even the film? Sadly the original name of the film, Bloody Pom Poms, was changed to Cheerleader Camp. In her dream, Alison's pom poms are deadly and sharp. Unfortunately, the killer uses other methods to take down the victims of Camp Hurrah. Each one is ridiculous and what you expect from 80s horror, especially the camp horror genre.
The trailer is below for your amusement. We will be back next week for another installment. Another camp, and another reason to stay home away from the mosquitos, the bad food, and the mysterious body count that keep adding up. Until next time.