With a title like that you can be sure this video production is a far cry from LASSIE COME HOME. It’s an early effort by the talented Lucky McKee (of MAY and THE WOODS), a really stupid zombie gorefest that, if one is willing to shut one’s brain down for eighty minutes, is actually kind of fun.
2002’s excellent MAY is widely thought to be writer/director Lucky McKee’s “first” film, but ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE, a decidedly less auspicious effort co-directed by Chris Sivertson (helmer of ‘06’s THE LOST, which McKee produced), came first in 1999. Lensed in Skull County, CA, it’s an extremely low rent shot-on-video feature of the type that tends to be released (and quickly forgotten) by outfits like E.I. and Sub Rosa. I’m surprised neither studio bothered snatching it up, as it’s definitely above average in the SOV arena—I actually managed to sit through the whole thing, which I can’t say for too many other such movies.
Five lunkheaded high school football players embark on a camping trip together with their cheerleader girlfriends. There’s trouble from the start, however, because the cheerleaders are claiming they have it just as hard as the footballers. Once at the camp sight (and after a night of boozing and fucking), the guys decide to put the girls through a bout of football training, complete with a guys vs. gals scrimmage. The girls agree, but leave out the fact that the night before one of them inducted the others into a witches’ coven that has granted them supernatural powers. These powers become apparent over the course of the scrimmage, with the girls beating the guys at their own game. The disgraced footballers become enraged and chase the cheerleaders through the forest and over a cliff, where four of the girls die—the fifth gets caught in a bear trap and the guys take off, leaving her shouting that she’ll get even some day.
That day comes five years later. The guys are all dope-addled losers about to attend their five-year high school reunion. The “bear trap girl” has survived her ordeal and returns to the graves of her cheerleader companions. She uses witchcraft to raise them from the dead and embark on a rampage of revenge, mutilating and devouring the flesh of their tormentors, and, for good measure, crashing the reunion dance.
When dealing with a movie called ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE, it’s clear you’re not viewing a Stanley Kubrick film. Allowances will have to be made for the tacky video footage (it was evidently shot on somebody’s camcorder, a far cry from the high quality digital stock available nowadays), uniformly crummy performances (at least they’re consistent) and none-too-special effects (a particularly gory bit takes place alongside a parked laundry truck, which the actors, even those playing mindless zombies, are all careful to keep from getting splattered). If you’re willing to make those allowances, however, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised by the professional looking camerawork and well structured narrative that moves seamlessly from leering sex comedy to gross-out horror-fest (several years before the debut of Eli Roth, who’s made a career out of doing just that). In fact, if one were to transfer ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE to film (and drop the tacky synthesizer muzak), you’d likely end up with something fairly impressive.
ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE
Directors/Screenplay/Cinematography/Editing: Lucky McKee, Chris Sivertson
Producers: Lucky McKee, Chris Sivertson, Shelli Merrill, Jeff Rimmer, Kevin Sparks
Cast: Julia Carpenter, Drama, Dirty Ernie, Jennifer Grant, Chris Heinrich, Jesse Hlubik, Bonnie McKee, Mike McKee, Quincy McKee, Shelli Merrill, Zach Passero, Matthew Shebesta, Marni Sparks, Melinda Sparks, Eric Van Bebber, Marlena Waid