The Swinging Cheerleaders (1974) (Blu-ray/DVD Review)
Directed By: Jack Hill
Starring: Jo Johnston, Cheryl Smith, Colleen Camp
Rated: R/Region AB/1:66/1080p/Number of Discs 2
Available from Arrow Video
Jack Hill spent the seventies specializing in tough female characters. He made movies about girl gangs (Switchblade Sisters) and women in prison (The Big Doll House, The Big Bird Cage), turned Pam Grier a star with Coffy and Foxy Brown, and contributed to the Cheerleaders line of drive-in favorites with The Swinging Cheerleaders. Kate, an undergraduate at Mesa University, goes undercover as a cheerleader for her college newspaper in order to expose female exploitation in contemporary society . But instead of oppression she finds love, friendship and a bigger fish to fry: corruption in the football team, headed up by the coach and his pals. A favorite of Quentin Tarantino, who screened it at the very first Tarantino Film Fest, The Swinging Cheerleaders features a cast of cult favorites including Colleen Camp (Wayne s World, Game of Death), Rainbeaux Smith (Caged Heat, The Incredible Melting Man) and future Playmate of the Month Rosanne Katon.
If it is good enough for Quentin Tarantino it is certainly good enough for me! I’m really happy to be seeing most of Jack Hill’s movies finding their way to Blu-ray, many of which from Arrow as well. I’ve not seen a Jack Hill movie I dislike yet and I enjoyed the bit complex plot you get in The Swinging Cheerleaders. While I’m sure most back in the day or even now come to a movie like this for the T and A (and you do get that), you find that the story isn’t just fluff. Our leading lady goes into the cheerleading squad in order to write a paper but finds herself getting eyes for the star quarterback who is dating her fellow cheerleader, who is also the head cheerleader. Not to mention her other squad mates have issues of their own, like dating a teacher and trying to finally seal the deal with their boyfriend. All of that and more keeps things flowing but sooner rather than later the main issue, the head of the school and coach betting on games, comes into play and then up front and center for the last act. They manage to do a lot here but it never feels messy. Which is a bit of an accomplishment alone seeing as how much they do manage to start and finish in the normal running time this movie does have. The big studios couldn’t cram about three plots worth of stuff into a nearly three hour Batman vs Superman, but Jack Hill could find the time in 91 minutes to complete about one man plot and four to five other subplots without anything feeling rushed. That just goes to show how well of director Jack Hill is.
Of course, it also helps that the movie isn’t a totally serious movie. We have a lot of sexually driven things as well as some legit funny moments from time to time. The actors seem to give this their all and they make you like who you need to like and dislike who you need to dislike. Watching an extra on the disc tells us that this movie’s master was nearly tossed out so it is a bit of a big deal that we even have this movie here in HD. Which is just great since this is a really solid film that seems to have something for everyone from sports movie fans to erotic movie fans, and even some sprinkles of blacksploitation to round it all out. I think the movie here looks great for something that was about to be tossed out. Outside of the awful stock footage that this one uses, I can’t find much to complain about. It has strong colors and good details, even if the footage might show a bit of the film’s budget overall. The Swinging Cheerleaders is a bit of a misleading title but the movie sure does pack all you’d need to have a good time in front of the ol’ home entertainment system. If nothing else it just goes as a prime example of what Jack Hill could do. It also keeps the streak of Jack Hill movies I’ve seen and liked very much alive. I’m sure he has some stinkers out there but I’ve not been able to really find an awful one yet.
– Brand new 2K restoration from original film materials
– High Definition (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD Presentations
– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
– Audio commentary by writer-director Jack Hill, recorded exclusively for this release
– Brand new interview with Jack Hill
– Archive interview with cinematographer Alfred Taylor
– Archive interview with Hill and Johnny Legend
– Q&A with Hill, and actors Colleen Camp and Rosanne Katon recorded at the New Beverly Cinema in 2012
– TV spots
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
Quality of Transfer: 89%