The '70s were a defining time in the cinematic history of cheerleaders. That's when those perky sirens of the sidelines first jiggled into drive-ins in a BIG way. In 1972, Tex Schramm kicked things off when he INVENTED the hot-pants and pompons phenomenon now known the world over as The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Exploiteer Paul Glicker was then quick to the screen with his fleshy send-up The Cheerleaders and other entries would follow, including Jack Hill's immortal The Swinging Cheerleaders. Some extra ambitious filmmakers decided to glom on to the increasing popularity of these films AND the success of possession flicks like Carrie by blending their themes into the delightfully ludicrous Satan's Cheerleaders (1977, 92 minutes). But this peppy subgenre reached its climax, literally, in 1978 when Bambi Woods showed MORE than just her team spirit in Debbie Does Dallas.
The movie: A beach-side Huskies cheerleader practice brakes up when the team challenges the girls to an impromptu touch football game -- with a heavy emphasis on TOUCHING. Debbie (Alisa Powell), wouldn't you know it, is the friskiest of the bunch as she immediately drags her fella into the bushes to go deep for an extra point. These festivities hit a snag when the opposing high school decides this particular stretch of sand is THEIRS in order to emphasize a rivalry subplot that never really goes anywhere. However, an all-too-brief catfight DOES ensue when the feuding cheerleaders wing water balloons at each other's no-no zones. An excellent way to settle a disagreement for certain! Things veer down a more sinister path when the Huskies pompon patrol is abducted by a geekazoid janitor (Jack Kruschen) who had regularly been on the hiney-end of their cruel taunts. Unfortunate for them, he carries a grudge and happens to be affiliated with a cult of redneck Satanists who guzzle the "blood of darkness" while reciting Judas Priest lyrics real late at night. He brings the squealing babes to a secret alter deep in the woods where a mysterious breeze possesses Patti (Kerry Sherman) compelling her to hop onto the Devil's alter and writhe around like she's being diddled by a value-sized porcupine. Once she's had enough, the squad and their comically naive adviser (Jacqueline Cole) scamper for the safety of the nearest town and into the arms of Sheriff B.L. Bubb (John Ireland). Get it?! BEELZEBUB!!! CineSchlockers will recognize once-ravishing Yvonne De Carlo as his Satan-friendly wife from her role as Lily Munster on the classic TV series and countless other screen performances.
Notables: Two breasts. Two corpses. TP-ing. Gratuitous group shower scene. Synchronized hiney smacking. Hitchhiking. Bitch slapping. Bodice ripping. Demonic wind. Dog attack. Gratuitous John Caradine cameo. Peeping.
Quotables: Horndogs with a game plan, "First we touch, then we tackle! Right, girls?!" Mean ol' Billy is grateful for his kickin' wheels and good fortune, "This here's not a car, it's a pickup! And I just picked me up some cheerleaders that are gonna get what's coming to 'em!"
Time codes: When a turf war could be easily resolved with a coed chicken fight (9:35). Locker room scenes are critical to the genre even today (19:50). Ms. Sherman becomes this flick's star by her willingness to do more nudity than her co-stars (34:00). Hooded cultists perform the dreaded Black Mass (1:24:10).
Audio/Video: Presented in a fullframe print that holds up pretty well until the last reel where a digital hiccup occurs (see time code 1:04:40). Robust Dolby Digital mono track with funky tunes by Sonoma.
Extras: Trailers for this film and Ruby starring Piper Laurie that's more than slightly derivative of a film for which she earned an Oscar nomination. Static menus without audio.
Final thought: A charming detour into the Theatre of the Absurd that's sweetened by a deliciously subversive edge. Rah! Rah! Rah! Recommended.
G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.