It’s no secret to those who have been reading this site for awhile now that I’m a huge fan of the lower-than-low-rent Animal House knock-off King Frat. Even though Code Red’s release of it under their short-lived “Saturn Drive-In” label left a lot to be desired, I really don’t care. Full-frame, direct-from-VHS rip or not, I was just glad to finally have it available on an “official” DVD release. What can I say? Sometimes I can be pretty easy to please. It wasn’t until last night, though, that I finally watched — on a complete lark — the movie it’s paired with on that disc, director Harry Kerwin’s 1977 teen sexploitation “comedy” Cheering Section, and discovered I really hadn’t been missing out on much all these years it’s been sitting, unviewed, on my shelf .
For one thing, Code Red, more times than not the gold standard in exploitation as far as I’m concerned, did an even lousier job with the transfer on this title than they did on King Frat. It looks like it’s been ripped from about a third (or greater)-generation VHS copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a — well, you get the idea. The full frame picture features colors that are completely washed-out, the image is grainy and blurry in the extreme, and the mono sound completely sucks and has to be cranked up in some spots and lowered, quite quickly, in others. There are no extras to speak of, but hell, maybe that’s a good thing.
The technical specs aren’t nearly as lamentable, though, as is Cheering Section itself, an unimaginative, uninspired, unimpressive, and well-nigh unwatchable riff on the previous year’s Crown International release The Pom Pom Girls — the first cheerleader-themed film to gain wide release after the Supreme Court decision legalizing hard-core pornography, and thus quite a bit tamer than earlier entrants in the genre which were basically soft-core sex romps with 21-year-olds dressed up as high school girls. The Pom Pom Girls was hardly a classic by any stretch, but it did stake out new ground, since the suits at Crown realized early on that, with “the real thing” now readily available for audiences to see, they needed to tone down the (frankly usually dull) simulated sex scenes and dial up the hijinks and comedy. There could still be plenty of bare boobs on display, of course, but explicit — or even semi-explicit — sex was out, since that market was now essentially cornered by the likes of Marilyn Chambers, Linda Lovelace, etc.
Fly-by-night Florida distro outfit American General Pictures took note of this profitable formula not long after, and the result is this plotless, laughless mess. Ostensibly focused on a group of high school jocks who cruise around in one of those “pussy wagon” vans so popular at the time (they even mark their “conquests” by placing a new pussycat sticker on the rear of the van for every girl one of them scores with), things take a turn when an immediately-popular, pretty new girl (played by Rhonda Fox) shows up at school and they all compete for her attentions and/or affections. She takes a real liking to the purported alpha male “leader” of the bunch (played by Corey Pearson), who also just so happens to be the star quarterback of the football team (of course), and he likes her, too — there’s just one problem : her dad is his new, hard-ass coach.
Yup, folks, we’re firmly in “stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before” territory here, and trust me — you’ve seen it done better, too. There’s a sure-to-set-the-cause-of-women’s-equality-back-by-at-least-a-century subplot about the main school here literally betting their cheerleaders against their rival school’s cheerleaders on the outcome of the forthcoming big game, but that’s all about as interesting as it sounds, as well. Honestly, the whole thing’s just a dreary mess, and everyone’s so plainly just going through the motions — and even them just barely — that sticking with it as a viewer becomes a real effort.
Still, if you’re the sort of person that can be reasonably entertained by more or less any movie that bares enough young, perky, female flesh, you might find Cheering Section at least vaguely interesting enough to sit through — although probably only once. Me, I’d have rather watched the flagpole rust. Proceed down this road solely at your own risk — I’ve done my part by warning you; my conscience is clear.