Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cheerleaders Beach Party (1978)

AKA California Cheerleaders
Directed by Alex E Goiten
Starring Elizabeth Lordan, Jamie Jensen, Lynn Hastings, Gloria Upson
Rated R

"You girls are about as much fun as an autopsy."

Cheerleaders Beach Party does not open with a party. It opens with stock footage of a college football game, complete with rambling and unrelated commentary from someone who sounds like an over-caffeinated grandpa. Love him or hate him, you've got to give it to Chuck Vincent - he knows how to lower your expectations almost instantly. Just about anything would be better than generic football footage, retarded rambling, and a seriously awful junk-disco number, so when we cut to the first cheerleader shower scene two minutes later, we are eternally grateful, so happy to be done with that opening sequence that we'll forgive the shower caps and squirt guns. It is sort of odd that all four actresses are crowded into a regular bathroom shower together - doesn't seem like an actual locker room shower would be that hard to secure for an afternoon - but cheerleader boob is cheerleader boob, so whatever.

CB Party was not actually directed by Chuck Vincent, he merely wrote it. Alex E Goiten (Cherry Hill High) helmed this one, utilizing most of Cherry Hill High's cast and crew. Clearly, we have a rare meeting of sexploitation legends on our hands here: Goiten's somnambulant directorial flair mashing head-on with Vincent's witless script. Plus, it's got cheerleaders! And disco! How could this not be a major disasterpiece?

Well, our boys do not disappoint. Or they totally do, depending on your viewpoint.

Monica (Elizabeth Lordan), Toni (Jamie Jensen), Sissy (Lynn Hastings), and Sheryl (Gloria Upson) are Rambling University's loyal cheerleading squad. When, over beers at the local tavern, they fund out that three of Rambling U's star football players (all of whom look about 35 and sport Burt Reynolds mustaches) are being actively wooed by their rivals, State University, the girls vow to sabotage SU's conference and destroy their team by any means necessary. As long as 'any means' includes having sex with football players. They steal the coach's van (they leave him with their heart-festooned convertible), and away they go. Cue the on-the-road montage, complete with skinny dipping and, erm, tent pitching.

The girls get to wherever the fuck State U is and spend most of their time at the beach, spying on the football tryouts with binoculars. One of the already-recruited mustache dudes, Mitch (Rick Gitlin, Squeeze Play), takes a liking to Monica and invites her out to a bar, where they dance to a lite-psych band and the other girls pick up hillbillies in overalls.

Later on, Rambling U's football team strolls in with a trio of awesomely named hussies: Honey (Shoshana Ascher, Night of the Zombies), Sugar (Malvina Golden), and Ginger (Cheri Southie).
"Sounds like a recipe for fruitcake," deadpans Toni.
The girls exchange catty comments, and as they're leaving, Toni crawls under a table and gives Honey the hot-foot.
The fuckin' hot-foot, man. Who even knew that existed outside of Bugs Bunny cartoons?

That night, Sheryl has sex with the redneck kid, which convinces him to transfer to Rambling U.
So the plan is apparently working.

The next day, the dean hosts a cocktail party for his potential new players. State U's recruiter, Mr Langley (John Hart) instructs the hussies to keep our cheer-girls at bay.
"What I want you girls to do," he says, "Is keep an eye on those Rambling U guys. And don't let those preposterous pom pom pussycats anywhere near them!"
He says this, by the way, exactly like Sylvester the Cat. An interesting acting choice.

Our heroines will not be stopped by a trio of hair-twirlers with confectionary names, so they dress up like maids and do their best to fuck up the party. They spike the punch (the inserted sound effect of the bottles emptying into the punch is hilarious - it is clearly the sound of someone dumping water into a toilet bowl) and serve pot brownies. The usual mayhem ensues, i.e. pool dunkings, inappropriate toplessness, old ladies dancing with their skirts hiked up, and food fights, including at least one banana cream pie.

Turns out everybody loved the party, though. Particularly the football players, who especially enjoyed throwing food at each other. So, that plan kinda backfired.

Then they pretend they're ghosts. You know, like in Sccoby Doo, with white sheets and flashlights. I know, man, I know. Where's the fucking beach party already? Well, they finally have it, but it's pretty underwhelming. There's a few Chinese lanterns and some disco, and the girls do some of their routines. And then they strip-cheer, which would have been fantastic, were it not in the dark, and were the girls a bit more attractive. The climax? A campfire singalong of House of the Rising Sun. Does that sound like it's worth an hour of tedium to you? The party is not the climax - the girls have more sabotaging and soul-searching to do - but it might as well be, because nothing of any interest happens afterward. Or before, really.

Given its title, Cheerleaders Beach Party held a lot of promise. I mean, cheerleaders AND a beach party - that's two great tastes that taste great together. It had a bitchin' poster, as well. Unfortunately, nothing connects here. The dialogue is beyond lame, there's no action, the nudity is brief, the cheerleaders are only passably good looking, and the disco theme is annoying. A complete misfire. Sadly, no boners will be popped today.

Availability: Cheerleaders Beach Party is available on DVD.

-Ken McIntyre

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