Bloody Pom Poms 1987 Review
Bloody Pom Poms 1987
aka Cheerleader Camp
Directed by: John Quinn
Starring: Betsy Russell, George ‘Buck’ Flower, Leif Garrett
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
If you’ve sat through as many of these flicks as I have, you can start to guess their year of production by the things that you see on-screen. The slasher genre would see something of a re-emergence in 1988, with some fairly intriguing titles hitting shelves. During ’86 and ’87 though, most were bog standard in their approach, but would pack their rucksacks to the rafters with attractive women and light gore. Terror Night, Hide and Go Shriek and Berserker are fine evidence of this and Bloody Pom Poms is yet another. From afar it looks like just another standard whodunit/sorority slasher, but closer inspection reveals that BPP took its bloody fingers out of the pom poms and placed them in a few trivia pies.
Unleashed only once on VHS, the film sold fairly well, but became harder to find until it was given a makeover and DVD release on the Anchor Bay label twenty-years later as Cheerleader Camp. The initial success led to the authorisation of a sequel, which began production, but then inexplicably got a little befuddled and ended up being unleashed as a completely unrelated (non slasher) picture. I own the follow up on VHS and remember reading on message boards that people were unsure if it actually existed because there was a lack of information anywhere on the web. You. An find it now under the title Camp Fear on DVD, but it’s not very good anyway and looks like a cheap patchwork with obvious re-cuts and re-writes. This first instalment however is pure unadulterated stalk and slash with a neat polished look.
A pretty youngster named Alison attends Camp Hurrah with a group of her buddies and her flirtatious boyfriend in order to train hard and become the best cheerleader to win the All State finals. Alison keeps having nightmares of murders that soon manifest themselves into reality. As more people get slashed by an unseen killer, Alison is unsure if it could be her who is cutting down the competition.
There’s a very interesting cast here, with the gorgeous Betsy Russell who would go on to become the face of the later Saw series. Amongst the background bunnies, we have two playboy poster girls, with one of them (Teri Weigel) being the only playmate ever to go on to a career in hardcore porn after appearing in the famous magazine. Other actresses that took the highway from stalk and slash to porn include, Ashlyn Gere (Dreamaniac/Evil Laugh) and Denise Stafford (Terror Night).Performing as Russell’s boyfriend is former teen idol Leif Garrett who after a couple of successful singles would disappear from the music scene and never really find the same level of recognition in movies. George ‘Buck’ Flower is also on board playing the creepy camp caretaker and possible suspect/red herring.
The film takes off with some creative photography and a trippy nightmare scene that references A Nightmare on Elm Street heavily. This is a theme that is continued throughout, because the plot attempts to blur the lines between dream and reality in our heroine’s mind. It doesn’t take too long for the bodies to start turning up and there’s some very cool gore from Thomas Surprenent. This includes a gruesome ‘shears through the head’ effect, which may have been included as a nod to Tony Maylem’s The Burning(?) A fairly large number of cheerleaders get sliced and there’s the chance to guess who the unseen killer could be, but you should work it out easily enough and it seems like a lazy attempt to hide his identity.
I wouldn’t call Pom Poms a horror comedy in the traditional sense because it tries hard to maintain a threatening tone. The script does however put a lot of effort in to fart humour and teen hi-junks during the character development stuff. It attempts to mimic the type of comedic slant made famous by Porkies and Meatballs by having a fat practical joker (seen loads in slasher flicks) and a host of sexual quips and tongue in cheek characters. They do somewhat overdo it though, especially with the cheerleader antics and you may get bored by the amount of talk about make-up and bras. A cast packed with playmates and women hired for nothing more than their ability to look good in a bra means that there’s a high eye candy factor and literally mounds of boobies. The dramatics somewhat suffer because of it though and there’s no one here that we really care about. Betsy Russell’s topless horse riding scene in Private School was recently voted as one of the sexiest sequences in film history. Fully dressed in Bloody Pom Poms though, she comes across as cold and lacks charm.
The VHS copy that I own looks lush with really bright colours and crisp shots of the outdoor landscapes. Director John Quinn adds flair to some of the set pieces, but doesn’t really build any suspense, which would have turned the momentum up a notch. In fact the film reminded me very much of 1986’s Hell High, which also transcended its budget to look neat and well made, but just never got to grips with building the horror. The stagnated performances don’t help to develop a genuine sense of involvement and this leaves the film with an unshakeable feeling of hollowness.
Bloody Pom Poms has the odd moment of credibility and there’s some fun to be had with the gore and attractive women. Much like a non-alcoholic beer though, it only warms the taste buds in to knowing that it is a lame substitution for the real thing. A necessary addition for genre buffs, but it won’t turn non-believers.
Final Girl: √√
Posted on February 8, 2012, in Slasher and tagged Bloody Pom Poms, Cheerleader Camp, cheesy wotsit, gore, Hot Chicas, killer in the woods, porn star bunnies, Slasher, Whodunit?. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.