"Head Cheerleader, Dead Cheerleader" has got to be the best title of the year, and it comes from Columbia, South Carolina, triple threat writer/producer/director Jeff Miller, the genius behind "Hell Block 13."
Jeff was going for "Scream Meets Clerks" with this "Who's killing the cheerleaders?" comedy, but he doesn't quite carry it off, mainly because about 80 per cent of the scenes take place on the phone. Don't get me wrong. The telephone is a fine device in any dead-babysitter, dead-camper, or dead-supermodel flick, especially if you have a serial killer with a breathy voice that sounds like he's chewing off his finger while he talks to you. You know the drill.
"Hello, Sally, why are you all alone tonight?"
"Who is this?"
"Let's just say I'm an important person in your life. What's left of it."
Sally hangs up. The phone rings again.
"Sally, I notice you're wearing your favorite Tweety-Bird nightgown."
"Who are you? Why are you doing this?"
Maniacal laughter. Sally hangs up.
The phone rings again.
"Stop calling me or I'm calling the police! What? Oh, Danny, it's you. I'm sorry. No, it's just. Oh, it's nothing."
No matter how many times this happens, the babysitter always yells into the phone on the third ring, and it's never the serial killer, right?
Well, the problem with "Head Cheerleader, Dead Cheerleader" is that Jeff does this so many times, you already know that any time she screams into the phone, it's going to be somebody else. And the voice of the killer sounds like a gay antiques store owner talking to his boyfriend--not the scariest voice I've ever heard--plus they double the same voice as the guy who answers the phone at the Sheriff's Office. I kept expecting some revelation that the Sheriff's deputy and 911 operator was the killer, but it was just a budget-saving measure.
Anyhoo, one good reason to watch "Head Cheerleader, Dead Cheerleader" is that the beautiful B-movie queen Debbie Rochon plays the cheerleader coach who likes to plan her routines in the Jacuzzi. She knows something's amiss, though, because she finds her pet turtle on his back.
Actually, one of the most inspired moments in the film occurs when Debbie gets her right hooter hacked off by the killer. I've seen 47,000 drive-in movies, but I have never seen that before.
What we've got here is the old story of cheerleaders being hacked to bits on the night before the big game. Head cheerleader Heather hangs around her house, getting reports of various dead friends, but showing real emotion only when the psycho calls and threatens to declaw her cat. There's a laundry list of suspects-- virtually everyone in the cast, including her two ex-boyfriends, the football coach, the sheriff, the old homeless guy who skulks around in her yard, and "the satanic church out on the old country road"--and while we're waiting to find out who it really is, the phone rings a lot. Once we do know, we have to wonder, "How could she not recognize the voice?"
Motive for the killings: the cheerleading squad was messing up their cheers and jinxing the team.
Eleven dead bodies. Four breasts. Multiple dead birds. Ax through the head, with split baseball cap. Bullet to the brain. Ax to the back. Claw hammer to the forehead. Voodoo Barbie doll decapitations. One shower-stall makeout session. Heads roll. Breasts roll. Foot rolls. Asthma-inhaler Fu. Cheerleading-trophy Fu. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Bobby Cerutti, as the dirty-old-man football coach; Amber Coker as the plump disenfranchised would-be cheerleader; Terrill Douglas as the fat guy with a gratuitous ax; Debbie Rochon as the wine-sipping cheerleader coach with a pet turtle, for saying "Be careful tonight, Heather--I can't afford to lose my head cheerleader before the big game tomorrow"; Noelle Manuel as the foxy lesbo cheerleader; Bill Roberson as the sneezing sheriff; Hal Perry as "The Voice," who says "Mmmm, just what I like, fresh cheerleader- -sounds like a new Ben & Jerry's flavor"; and Tasha Biering as the curly-blonde head cheerleader, who says "Don't mess with me, Coach, I'm a cheerleader!" The best line, spoken by the cheerleaders in unison: "Two four six eight, who should we decapitate?"
One and a half stars.
Joe Bob says check it out.