Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cheerleader Autopsy (2003)

Directed by Stuart Dodge
Starring Calu Morton, Misty Kapp, Brian D Smith, Brian C Smith

"Gimme my hammer, so I can beat you to death with it."

Normally, we would not write about a movie with Autopsy in the title. But it also has Cheerleader in the title, so we are contractually obligated to include it here. I should mention up front that for the first ten or so minutes of Cheerleader Autopsy, I was laughing out loud, and not even at the movie, but with the movie. That's pretty remarkable for a no-budget, southern-fried, semi-retarded gross-out flick. In fact, if director Stu Dodge (current whereabouts: unknown) didn't zag so far in another direction 20 minutes in, if he had concentrated on the cheerleaders and not the autopsy, he would have had a minor classic on his hands, instead of the Troma-on-welfare puke party we're left with.

Cheerleader Autopsy opens with a redneck bus driver (Maurice Walston) who speaks in gibberish and farts into a hat. I think Mr. Walston is trying to channel either Mojo Nixon or Hillbilly Bear. Perhaps both. There's also a coach in too-tight shorts, Coach Pride (John Suggs). He's waiting impatiently for his cheerleading squad outside the bus.
"These little cunts are gonna fuck this up, " he growls. "I can just feel it."

Cut to: the inside of a girl's bathroom, where we meet The Beavers, the most unlikely cheerleading squad ever. They look like low-level porn chicks. Like rejected Suicide Girls. One of 'em, Sissy Wildington (Atlanta burlesque performer Calu Morton) has an English accent and a full sleeve of tattoos. It's fucking awesome.

There's a scene where one of the girls, Chrissy, (Misty Kapp) shows off her new ass tattoo, but she's topless when she's doing it. For no reason.

So, they goof around for a few minutes, and when they realize they're late, they start squealing, because they're afraid the coach is going to paddle them. And then they run to the bus. When they get there, well, the coach paddles them.

The Beavers are representing Stinkwater, their tiny Florida town, in a cheerleading competition. They have a send-off rally consisting of about six people sitting on folding chairs. One of them is a middle aged woman holding a dachshund. When he pees on her leg, she tosses him in a garbage can.

Cut to: "Harverd Medical School", where some big jock guy is in bed with a mannequin. She's supposed to be a corpse. Him and his buddy get kicked out of school for misconduct. The other guy, Blaine, (Brian D Smith, who wrote a screenplay called Bird Flu Horror!) plans to go to Georgia and work at his uncle's mortuary.
"He's like 80, and he's always drunk," explains Blaine. "It's gonna be sweet."

Cut to: a scene where the girls jabber away inside the bus, but the engine's so loud you can't hear them. And then the bus breaks down, and the coach makes the girls practice in a field while some old fucker shoots at bottles of porno beer. I was actually astonished that the girls had actually worked out something resembling a routine.

So the old guy accidentally shoots the bus driver, which causes him and the coach to instantly burn up into cinders, and the bus to roll backwards down the hill. The old guy also accidentally shoots himself in the face, and they use an awesome rubber mask for the effect.

And then Blaine shows up in Georgia. His uncle Clyde (Brian C Smith, presumably D's dad) - who is supposed to be 80 but is actually about 40 - picks him up at the airport. Except he's not at the airport, he's at a playground, and he's pretending to watch planes take off. He takes him back to his mortuary and they immediately start talking about fucking corpses. Uncle says, "The first rule of the mortuary business is, if they don't say no - and the usually don't - then consider that a yes."
Then they have a couple beers, and Clyde tells his nephew he's been selling the corpses to a dog food factory, and there's nothing anybody can do about it, because he's also the sheriff.

Cut to: the accident. Turns out all the cheerleaders died as well, although they could have easily out-run the bus, since it was going about two miles an hour. Some dude in a Mountain Dew t-shirt finds them and calls 911. The operator tells him to give the victims CPR, which he does, only there's only one cheerleader left intact -Sissy, the tattooed chick - and she's actually a mannequin. So the Mountain Dew guy is humping away at the doll when Clyde and Blaine show up. Clyde brains him with a tire iron, and they throw all the bodies in his trunk.

Back at the mortuary, they prep all the bodies for the dog food factory, and when they get to the cheerleader corpse, they both get boners and laugh, for a really long time. And then they do an actual cheerleader autopsy, wherein they yank out two dead babies. I guess one of the cheerleaders was a little fat. Then they go home and fry up the babies.

There's a nebbishy guy called Norbert (Josh Latta) who cleans the mortuary at night. He apparently has a tiny acorn penis, so everybody in town hates him. He notices that the coach's now-dead member was quite large, so after Clyde splits, he cuts off his own penis with a meat cleaver and grafts Coach Pride's onto the bloody stump. I realize that none of this has anything to do with girls, but this is the sort of thing you really have to see through to the bitter, bloody end.

A bunch of stuff happens with Clyde and Blaine. By the way, Brian C Smith appears to be channeling horror host Zacherle for his role as Clyde. It's actually pretty effective. That's the really nutty thing about this movie. As slapdash and stupid as it is, the acting is still quite reasonable, given the material. It doesn't look like Dodge just used his friends and neighbors, it looks like he rounded up actual actors. This could be a happy accident, but it does elevate this otherwise completely unwatchable exercise in Troma-styled buffoonery from total waste of time to a mild and sometimes quite funny curiosity. And that's half the battle right there.

Anyway, one of the cheerleaders, Chrissy, is still alive, despite being mangled to bits. Clyde attempts to kill her with a hammer, but Blaine suddenly sprouts a conscience and tries to stop him. Clyde accidentally bashes his own skull in, and Blaine goes to work sewing the cheerleader back together. Eventually, she wakes up, and asks him what the fuck is going on.
"Well, you lost both your legs, one of your arms, and half your face, but you're still alive. And that's what's important, right?"
"What about my tits?" She asks. "And my sweet little ass?"
"They're both perfectly fine," Blaine tells her.
"Good. At least I'm still sexy," she says.
And then she projectile vomits on his face.
And then he has sex with her, but she doesn't think he performed well, so she throws a bunch of surgical equipment at him.
So he stoves her head in with a bedpan.

There's a climactic battle between Blaine and the grafted penis dude, plus a surprise cameo from the dead cheerleader. It's sort of like the end of House of 1,000 Corpses mixed with the beginning of Reanimator, shot with the budget and technical expertise of HG Lewis. Bloodfeast for dummies, in other words. There's also two twist endings, although neither one makes any sense.

I really have no idea how to gauge this movie. I suppose if you dig rural backyard gorefests, you're in luck. If you're looking for cheerleader-themed softcore however - and you are , otherwise you'd be somewhere else right now - then this is not going to work out for you. But you probably knew that it already, since it's got fuckin' 'Autopsy' in the title.

Still, though, look at this squad. They'd make the craziest porn movie ever.

Availability: Cheerleader Autopsy is available on DVD.

- Ken McIntyre

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