All Cheerleaders Die feels like a throwback to the old shlocky B-horror films of the drive-in cinema days. It presents a strange paranormal concept fused with high school cliques that seems like something straight out of a midnight movie. I could just see the poster with the key buzzwords. Cheerleaders! Lesbians! The Occult! Vampires! As you may have guessed by my hyping of the picture, there’s almost a tongue-in-cheek vibe to the way this film weaves its weird and supernatural horror premise. That doesn’t exactly make it a riot of a picture, but it has a surprising charm to its earnest, campy direction.
The unpopular student documentarian Maddy decides to turn in her camera for pom poms after an opening in the cheerleading squad after a fatal accident. Her goal is to take down the cheerleading group from the inside based on the soulless nature of the clique she filmed. She passes the tests and begins to get into the minds and pants of the squad. After she forms a romantic attachment to one of the cheerleaders, the football players grow jealous and violent. Maddy has invoked a gender war with the cheerleaders and football players. What was once a friendly treaty of the sexes is shattered is now a war of houses. All appears to be going to plan for the little manipulator, despite her best friend Leena glowing with anger for transferring into the clique world.
But forget all that high school drama! When four cheerleaders (including Maddy) all die in a car accident, the boys leave them with only Leena to fish them out of the river. Despite not being able to save them initially, Leena is able to revive the cheerleaders with the power of her magical stones though now they have swapped minds for some strange magical reason. There are a few rules to follow, however, for keeping them alive: The stones need to remain inside their bodies at all times, the girls will now feel everything all five of them feel and they need to drink a lot of blood. This is now a full-on revenge movie as the girls all show up at school the next day to taunt the football players and eventually snuff them out. Most of the logic in them being students is tossed out the window at this point focussing squarely on the paranormal horror of these undead cheerleaders seeking bloody restitution.
This is a very outlandish route to take and, for the most part, the movie realizes this. There are several comedic moments as when one of the girls makes out in the school bathroom. The other four girls feel the same sensation and breakdown in the school hallways in sexual pleasure. At the same time, the girl who is making out is doing so with the boyfriend of the female body she is occupying so you have a strange love affair going on as well. And as if that weren’t enough, another one of the girls is currently feasting on the soul of one of the football players so they’re all feeling full as well. Naturally, the girls grow hungrier and need more blood to keep going. Leena decides to cut her skin and let the girls suckle from her wounds in some over-the-top sequences staged more like romantic kisses with sappy music and all.
For as much fun as the film has with its subject, I don’t think it went far enough. There was so much more that could’ve been done with such a concept that ends too early as the picture devolves into slasher territory. The lead evil football player defends his position by taking on the girls, brutally murdering them and taking their magical stones which somehow make him more powerful and demonically deep in the voice. I think the film takes too long establishing the first act for the surprise of the second that it doesn’t have time to focus on what’s more entertaining.
How much better would this film be if we saw the girls get into all kinds of unique situations with their new magical powers? One of them could trip down the stairs and the other girls would topple over themselves in gym class or trying to woo a boy. Another one could succumb to feasting on blood that the other girls are no longer hungry during their lunch period, disappointing them on pizza day. That would be far more entertaining than the wildly confusing and gruesome finale we all see coming. I do give the movie credit, however, for its spirit in throwing so many unexpected elements at the screen including a Sleepaway Camp style ending. Directors/screenwriters Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson certainly infuse this horror picture with a lot of fun energy, but the fun becomes so offbeat at times you wonder just what the film is trying to be. All Cheerleaders Die is an admirable oddity of horror, but an oddity nonetheless preventing it from being a campy horror classic.
Reviewed by Mark McPherson, CinemaParadiso.co.uk