Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #310
Number of Views: One
Release Date: September 5, 2013 (TIFF)
Country of Origin: United States
Running time: 90 minutes
Directors: Lucky McKee, Chris Sivertson
Producer: Lucky McKee
Screenplay: Lucky McKee, Chris Sivertson
Special Effects: Robert Kurtzman
Visual Effects: Roger Nall
Cinematography: Greg Ephraim
Score: Mads Heldtberg
Editing: Ben La Marca, Zach Passero
Distributors: Image Entertainment, Celluloid Dreams
Stars: Caitlin Stasey, Sianoa Smit-McPhee, Brooke Butler, Tom Williamson, Amanda Grace Cooper, Reanin Johannink, Nicholas S. Morrison, Chris Petrovski, Leigh Parker, Jordan Wilson, Felisha Cooper, Michael Bowen, Sidney Allison
Suggested Audio Candy:
Grand Ole Party Look Out Young Son
Who in their right mind doesn’t harbor a fondness for cheerleaders? One flash of those crimson pom-poms and we all go weak at the nuts; one peek beneath their perilously short skirts at those cotton white briefs and it’s time to siphon our pythons. Of course, in my mind, they all have bunched pigtails and suck on oversized lollipops suggestively but that’s just moi. It’s no small wonder that no football team can function without them. So why then is the word cheerleader a relative cuss word when it comes to horror? Name me three decent horror flicks with the word in their title and I shall reciprocate with three that suck ass. However it pleases me to report that All Cheerleaders Die won’t be making that particular list.
Way back in 2001, straight after graduating from college and before either had become established, Lucky McKee (May, The Woman) and Chris Sivertson (I Know Who Killed Me) took a stab at a low-budget feature with this exact title. Virtually nobody on the planet saw that movie so why not offer a refresher course over a decade on? McKee in particular has become one of horror’s most treasured assets during the interim and any new project he undertakes is worth following doggedly from the moment it is announced. After his somewhat austere exploitation flick The Woman, All Cheerleaders Die may appear to offer something of a frothy departure and any assumptions would be bang on the money. Whereas that decidedly bleak film left you wishing only to bathe your weary bones, this will invariably leave the viewer with the need for a shower of the ‘one hand against the frosted glass’ variety upon completion.
Yet, aside from the delicious droves of buxom co-eds all vying for our erections, there is far more to these cheerleaders than pretty faces, supple breasts and hineys packed tighter than OJ Simpson’s suitcase on June 12th 1994. They are also to be trifled with at your peril, especially after a Wiccan ritual provides them with devilish upgrades and an insatiable appetite for the blood of young bucks. So, in addition to masticating as these bodacious bunnies bound around their boudoirs in their bras and panties, we are also afforded the added bonus of watching countless obnoxious jocks fall on their fleshy swords. I ask; what could possibly be not to like?
All Cheerleaders Die calls to mind teen-oriented fare such as The Craft, The Faculty and Jennifer’s Body but also bears a distinct similarity to Michael Lehmann’s jet black 1998 comedy Heathers, albeit without such a sharp satirical edge or lasting impact. It tells the story of young videographer Maddy (Caitlin Stasey), persona non grata among her high school peers with a particular axe to grind against the cheerleading squad and every intention of infiltrating their tightly woven clique and wrecking merry havoc from the inside. This rearguard action is provoked after one of their own, and Maddy’s seventh grade playmate, perishes after a tragic accident during practice and her contempt towards the “mean girls” and their jock suitors begins to boil over. Befriending them poses no real problem and soon they have forgotten about her outcast status and have engaged in fickle friendships, pinky-swears and a little harmless girl-on-girl exploration, much to their boyfriends’ disenchantment. Then the shit hits the barn door.
After an unpleasant turn of events spirals leaving a carload of cheerleaders on ice, Maddy’s menstrual Wiccan witch friend Leena (Sianoa Smit-McPhee) rushes to their aid with a clutch of otherworldly ritual stones and reanimates them before rigor mortis can set in. This is where the tone of All Cheerleaders Die shifts dramatically and, after a relatively grounded first act, it all begins to get somewhat chaotic. Not that that is a bad thing per se. None of the characters are particularly multifaceted; just your average slutty vixens and their remorseless testosterone-led fuck buddies. So, while the film has had its fair share of rough critique over its uneven structure, I welcomed taking leave of my senses and just enjoying watching a bunch of shitty people die in suitably shitty ways.
The reconditioned cheerleaders themselves are part-vampire, part-zombie, all estrogen and more than a tad hormonal to boot. Under the control of the lambent hell pebbles, they begin to exact their inhospitable retribution, shaking the booties God granted them to tantalize their easily influenced opposite numbers before sucking each of them off in a manner that just ain’t courteous. That is until the jocks’ love rodent ringleader Terry (Tom Williamson) decides that the battle of the sexes has been necessitated and sets out to take the power back. Game well and truly on; it’s chicks versus dicks all the way.
All the leads perform with considerable gusto and there is no question that the film looks handsome; how could it not with a handful of scantily clad harpies mincing about in their skivvies? Sure it’s indecisive with its tone which may dissuade many from shaking their pom-poms with delight, and one can’t help feeling that it would have been more relevant a decade ago but, considering it was conceived at the turn of the millennium, it’s only to be expected. Bottom line is that it’s as fun as a sack full of inebriated squirrels, never outstays its welcome, and does what it states on the tin, albeit in a mildly erratic manner. For a film titled All Cheerleaders Die, what more could we possibly desire?
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10
Grue Factor: 3/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: Special effects come courtesy of Robert Kurtzman (Night of The Creeps, Evil Dead II) and that is never a bad thing in Keeper’s book. Once the gemstones begin to glimmer, we are treated to all manner of exit wounds and gaping fissures and the insanely endowed Kurtzman has a handle on each and every one of them. Thankfully McKee and Sivertson also appreciate that cheerleaders come with their own exclusive assets and accommodate accordingly. Give us a T.
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
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