(Editors’ note: Rental Rehab is pleased to welcome back the brilliant Vytautas Malesh, a Detroit writer and the most over-educated pizza cook you will ever have the pleasure to meet. He can argue the merits of Dostoevsky, gaming, or beer bongs; whichever your fancy. We sincerely apologize that he subjected himself to this travesty of a film in the name of our humble project. When you’re done with this, be sure to check out his entertaining review of Action Jackson.)
Cheerleader’s Beach Party was one of the last of the 1970’s cheerleader movies, these movies being a sub-genre of “nudie-cutie,” or PG-13 grade sexploitation flick. Cheerleaders are of course an all-American sex symbol, and so from 1973 to 1979, the schlockiest writers, directors, and producers took their hammiest scripts and their lowest budgets, and half-assedly crapped out movies like The Cheerleaders, Revenge of the Cheerleaders, and Swingin’ Cheerleaders.
Unsurprisingly, the plots to these movies are all essentially the same – a squad of lascivious cheerleaders discover that their home team is being threatened (say, by a rival team, or a dishonest coach) and so they use their sexual prowess to screw the threat into submission in a way that I would compare to the French underground resistance covertly sabotaging the Nazi war machine in the 1940s if I had absolutely no respect whatsoever for the brave sacrifice of the French during World War II, and also hated Freedom.
The amazing thing about Cheerleader’s Beach Party is that it seems singularly designed to spit in the face of the Bechdel Test despite being produced some 7 years before the test itself was ever conceptualized. The Bechdel test, for those unfamiliar, can be used to gauge a creative narrative’s feminist value by determining if there are 1) 2 or more named female characters, 2) who talk to each other, 3) about something other than the men in the story.
CBP has four named female protagonists who for 90% of the movie speak to each other about (and here’s the part that will blow your mind) nothing but the men in the movie who themselves barely appear on screen! It’s like the Blair Witch Project of female objectification.
The movie begins with a horribly dubbed football sequence (matching the actors’ uniforms to the stock footage was probably the most work anyone put into this thing). We hear a bunch of player names, but don’t worry if you forget them – the men are MacGuffins, and who they are and what they do is utterly unimportant.
Off to the sidelines, we see the cheerleaders doing some sort of loosely syncopated St. Vitus dance while chanting something about teams and going and winning and so on. The cheerleaders use seductive wiggles and well-timed up-skirts to distract the rival team into critical fumbles. With the Rams victorious, a few more “hilarious” hijinks take us through the intro.
As an aside – we’ll later hear people rag on Rambling U as “second rate,” but all the footage they show of the campus reveals ivy-covered walls, gothic stonework and well-maintained grounds. The way people talk, you’d think that Rambling was like ITT Tech or DeVry, but my hat’s off to the camera crew who got some nice shots of a lovely small university before security chased them off the campus.
Unsurprisingly, the girls go home and shower together, and one of them gets taken into the bathroom to serve as a broodmare for a guy whom my roommate mistook for a middle-aged Albanian soccer player, but turned out to be the Rams’ fullback. It’s almost beneath mention that almost everyone here is about a decade past age-appropriate, but mention it I shall so that nobody actually goes out and watches this thinking they are going to see some hot sexy college co-ed action.
The girls go to the bar with the football players, and here we learn that a recruiter from “State U” wants to lure the boys away to play for him. The girls bring this sneaky sport seduction to the attention of the Ram’s coach, who it turns out could not care less – he’s more interested in his upcoming fishing trip, in preparation for which he has loaded up a big burgundy van with all kinds of camping equipment.
The girls steal the van and chase off after the boys to their football retreat in Bell Harbor. The girls set up camp and watch the boys play football with a few nameless extras who seem as enthusiastic about being in this movie as I am about watching it. During this scene, we are treated to the movie’s single best line, a line that is not only jarring to hear, but also reaffirms this movie’s status as a time-traveling anti-feminist magnum opus: the ditzy blond cheerleader takes the binoculars, looks over the assembled players and asks:
“Do you see OJ Simpson?”
The fact that this movie could make such an obviously self-aware allusion to a wife-murdering running back some 17 years before the actual horrific events involving Mr. Simpson et al. is proof positive that this movie is not only frighteningly prescient, but also malevolently misogynistic. This movie is alive, hates women, and it can travel through time!
The girls discover that they’ve got “competition” – State U has brought three of the saggiest prostitutes Burbank has to offer, and forced them into sexual slavery like a triune baggy-eyed Briseis in order to lure the middle-aged Myrmidons of Rambling onto the State U team. These girls are beyond skanky – they are mythically skanky, and in much the same way as Medusa could turn men to stone, just looking at these three women will give you a cold sore.
The cheerleaders hash out a ploy to seduce this bunch of 30-something men into playing for the Rambling U football team using only their vaginas. While they quite literally profess a commitment to “make” every football player in Bell Harbor, 3 of the 4 succeed only in running a girl-train on one dumb country hick. Meanwhile, the only actress in the movie who actually paid her SAG dues got enough speaking lines to have her own sub-plot in which she actually begins to fall for one football player who, for his popped collar, open shirt, and gold chain I will name “Douchebag Prime.”
It turns out that there’s some tweed-jacketed professor type who is the actual mastermind behind the whole plan to lure Rambling’s players away, and he and his stuffy British wife throw a poolside party for the football players. The cheerleaders have crashed the party disguised as caterers, and are handing out hash brownies. While serving up cups of spiked punch, one of the Cheerleaders overhears the dean’s stuffy British wife say that the house is haunted by ghosts. Do you think that will come up later?
The three State-U sponsored hookers are at the party, and the cheerleaders push one of them into the pool, dump potato salad down the shirt of another, and generally unleash mayhem on the party. Thinking they have outwitted State U’s nefarious schemers, they are dismayed to hear the boys of Rambling call the events of the afternoon, and I quote, “The greatest kick-ass mother fucking party ever!”
Side Plot Cheerleader goes off on her own to screw Douchebag Prime on the beach while the other girls take a cue from an earlier conversation and try one last trick – remembering that the house is supposedly haunted, they dress up in ghostly makeup and do their best to scare the football players who are sleeping in the upstairs bedroom. See how that information came in handy?
Whether or not the football players are actually scared or just aberrantly stupid is not made explicitly clear, but the tweed-jacketed professor type makes a big stink over the events of the night, and confines the players to the house after dark.
At long last, we come to the titular Cheerleader beach party. The girls smuggle the Rambling boys out of the dean’s house, and we get to watch the Cheerleader’s strip down to bikinis and do a few cheers, roast some marshmallows, and then have an acoustic sing-a-long to House of the Rising Sun. That’s it – that’s the whole party.
The State U hooker squad calls the recruiting guy, and he comes to put a kibosh on the festivities. He berates everyone at Rambling for their “lax moral standards” and then reveals that Douchebag Prime has already signed up to play for State U – he…he was only using Side Plot Cheerleader! Naturally he protests otherwise, but it’s too late – hearts have been broken, diseases have been sexually transmitted.
The players have a scrimmage the next day, and we learn that the cheerleaders have one more trick up their sleeves. Douchebag Prime is some sort of biology student, and while giving Side Plot Cheerleader a tour of his lab, he indicated that he had a jar of crab lice for study. The girls dump the crabs into the boy’s jocks, and “hilarity” ensues as the boys scratch, dig, and fumble all over the field.
The dean and the recruiter generally snarl and sneer at all things Rambling, which causes the Rambling boys to trot right back over to the Rams’ side. When the recruiter gives Douchebag Prime a speech about class ascendancy and rising above his station, DBP leaves in disgust.
All the football players, including the new recruits, ride back to Rambling in the cheerleader’s van. They also have a bunch of balloons – no explanation is given for this. In the dénouement and closing credits, we see the Rambling players, old and new, scoring and tackling their way to victory for the Rams. The cheerleaders win in the end, and the careers of all involved are destroyed. The End.
Because I lack the oppossable thumbs and upright posture required to work a DVR, I had to take a lot of pictures off the screen with my camera, thus the poor image quality. I also cribbed a few pics from the Movies About Girls blog, which is worth reading in and of itself.
A lifetime of volunteering in women’s shelters will not undo the damage this movie has wrought upon my soul. I can still feel it lurking in my TV screen, waiting, hating, like a late-night on-demand Ed Gein. I cannot un-recommend this movie enough. Just as the devil convinced the world he didn’t exist, so too does this movie appear on late-night TV and in two-for-one $9.99 DVD combos at Big Lots, parading around as low camp but in fact unraveling the very fabric of social justice, if not reality itself. In preparing this review, I watched this movie 4 times! The damage to my brain is irreparable, but not nearly so bad as the Chlamydia I contracted from looking directly at the screen.