Revenge of the Cheerleaders (1976) suggests a lesson. If you’re going to make a drive-in exploitation flick, take the opportunity seriously, but not the film. And this is a movie that makes the most of its opportunity. It proudly flies its freak flag. It is stupid and bizarre without apology. I vote Revenge of the Cheerleaders for class president.
A kind-of third film in a kind-of trilogy (following 1973’s The Cheerleaders and 1974’s The Swinging Cheerleaders), Revenge acts like the Mad Magazine take on the earlier films. Aloha High School is a bacchanal of sex and drugs in the hallways and classrooms; the front lawn looks like Woodstock, with pitched tents, suntanning, more sex and drugs, and impromptu dance numbers set to funk music. In this apocalyptic vision, the cheerleaders (Susie Elene, Jerii Woods, Helen Lang, Patrice Rohmer, and a very pregnant Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith) are the jointly-ruling Queens, with no equivalent King at their side. Unless you count “Boner”, played by David Hasselhoff. I could type that sentence again, but you’ve already read it twice. When the gang is not at school tirelessly being irresponsible, they’re hanging out at a diner called Lilly’s, probably either having sex or dancing. In this clip, set to the unforgettable song “Come to the Party,” it’s evident why Hasselhoff would be asked onto “Dancing with the Stars” a few decades later (his solo grooves begin at 2:15):
Back at school, the cheerleaders attend to a rigorous work ethic, which includes having sex, dancing, and breaking into classrooms to hold teacher and students hostage with a fire extinguisher until they turn over all their liquor, pills, and pot. Then they take those drugs and mix them into the cafeteria’s spaghetti sauce, to be served to the faculty and schoolkids. This special sauce would probably put a large bull into a permanent coma, but at Aloha High it only instigates an epic food fight, ending with the zonked-out, elderly school inspectors wandering into the showers for group sex with the cheerleaders and basketball team, all partially hidden beneath mountains of soapy bubbles (“Rainbeaux” Smith, still very pregnant, gets naked and joins the equal-opportunity orgy).
With so much to do, it’s a wonder the cheerleaders find time to hang out and smoke pot at basketball practice, objectifying the shirtless players (including the Hoff) with leering comments that adhere to a basketball theme. The very pregnant “Rainbeaux” Smith lights up and joins in: “When he shoots – I mean, ‘swish!'”
There’s a plot, I should mention. Lincoln High, personified by a smug group of evil Lincoln cheerleaders and an evil industrial developer, plot to put an end to Aloha High, the latter so he can build a shopping mall. (One of the LH cheerleaders proclaims, “We’re gonna make you slaves to Lincoln!”) To save the school, Aloha brings in a new principal, who’s treated to a tour which must, to his eyes, resemble the final days of Caligula’s reign.
The cheerleaders, isolated as the chief perpetrator’s of the school’s corruption, are booted off the school team and replaced with cheerleaders so awful they won’t even put out, including the spoiled daughter of the evil industrialist, Walter Hartlander. Bummed out, the girls take a field trip to the woods, where two of them are nearly arrested for strolling around naked (luckily, the other cheerleaders knock the cop unconscious and run away). Later they seduce a boy scout just because.
When they return to school, the basketball team is losing the match to Lincoln High because the cheerleading is so uninspiring. Our heroes arrive just in time: they jam the cheerleaders into the lockers, suit up in sexy outfits, and ra-ra-ra the team toward victory. At one point, evil Nurse Beam (Eddra Gale) chloroforms Boner. But one of the cheerleaders revives the Hoff by removing her panties and using them like smelling salts. So revived, Boner leaps back onto the court, and Lincoln’s team is defeated.
Nurse Beam, secretly working for Hartlander, plants explosives in the dead of night, and the next morning the students are distraught to find Aloha High blown to smithereens. I mean, this isn’t Rock ‘n’ Roll High School‘s Vince Lombardi High – this is Aloha High, the place where they hung out and had sex and did drugs and danced. When the cheerleaders uncover evidence that their principal has been taken hostage down at the park with the giant brontosaurus, the gang hops in their convertible and goes to the rescue. What follows is a chase scene lifted straight out of Scooby-Doo (and note the use of library music borrowed from an old pulp serial):
Nurse Beam drags her hostage into a nearby cave, and the girls pursue deep into the winding tunnels. Out of nowhere, they discover an elevator behind a broken cave wall:
The elevator ends at a shopping mall, and the girls dash up the escalators in pursuit of Beam and her captive. Finally, Beam arrives at a golf course, where she stumbles into quicksand, which you will find at golf courses. Through the quicksand she sinks, straight into the office of evil industrialist Walter Hartlander, who looks upset that he was not informed he’d be inserted into a live-action Terry Gilliam cartoon.
The cheerleaders have saved the day. Aloha High can return to its prominence as a safe haven of sex, drugs, and funky dancing, which comes in the form of some nude and semi-nude gyrating at a high school dance while the credits roll. But that’s not all, folks. Stick through the credits for a cameo by a very not pregnant Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith, proudly displaying her newborn child. This is what you call a happy ending.