Alternately known as The Great Girl Robbery (the title card on the print used for this transfer confirms it!), Cheerleaders Wild Weekend is one of those odd drive-in films that mixes comedy and sex with a few slightly darker and dramatic moments. It makes for a pretty weird viewing experience, as it delivers all of the tits and ass you'd expect but also some slightly more serious content in between.
The premise for the film is pretty simple - there's a cheerleading competition going on soon and so three different troupes of girls from three different schools all wind up on a bus together as they head out to strut their stuff and hopefully win the competition. Of course, there's tension between the groups, we see this immediately when they try to one up each other by teasing a horny hillbilly passing by in his truck, the lucky recipient of some quality flashing courtesy of the girls. At any rate, after the hillbilly enjoys his free show, the bus gets high-jacked by a strange group made up of three angry ex-football studs - Wayne Matthews (Jason Williams), George (Anthony Lewis) and Big John (John Albert); one of the jocks' little brothers (Robert Houston); and an angry lesbian with a smokin' body (Courtney Sands).
The high-jackers force the bus to drive off to a remote cabin out in the boonies for the night, where they're being held hostage for the amount of two million bones. The authorities had better pay up and fast if they want to see these girls again, and in order to help out a disc jockey named Joyful Jerome (Leon Isaac Kennedy) is used as a sort of on air hostage-negotiator. The government isn't willing to pony up the ransom money but they are willing to loan the parents of the girls the cash if they want to pay it themselves. The girls, however, realize that if they want to make it out alive, they're going to have to stop bickering with each other and work together to outsmart their captors. Nudity ensues.
In between the copious but welcome shots of buxom boobs and bouncing bottoms are, as mentioned, a few oddly serious scenes that actually help create a bit of tension in the film which goes a long way towards making it more exciting. Kind of like a cross between The Cheerleaders and Trip With Teacher, the film, as quirky as it is, winds up a pretty entertaining watch that delivers a fairly engrossing story alongside the requisite nudity. 70s drive-in fans will enjoy seeing Kristin DeBell (probably best known for her turn in the X-rated Alice In Wonderland feature) alongside other drive-in queens like Marilyn Joi and Lenka Novak appear in the film as well.
Although the film, at times, falls prey to a wealth of the era's clichés and the whole disc jockey angle feels like it was borrowed from Vanishing Point, the dialogue sometimes has a welcome viciousness to it and the characters are a bit more well rounded than you'd probably expect, ringleader Wayne Matthews being the best example. The chip on his shoulder is well explained and while it's still a bit of a stretch that his experiences would make him kidnap a couple of dozen cheerleaders and hold them for ransom, I suppose it's not completely out of the realm of possibility that an off centered macho meathead might try something like that.
Ultimately the film doesn't really seem to be trying to say anything deep, it's simply a good slice of late seventies era entertainment. On that level, it works and it works well. There's enough comedy to compliment the drama that you're not required to take anything too seriously and enough drama that the story is interesting enough to work.
Cheerleaders Wild Weekend hits DVD in a decent 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen progressive scan transfer that despite some minor print damage here and there generally looks pretty good. Colors have held up well over the years and flesh tones look nice and natural. Some grain is present, but that is how it should be, you probably wouldn't want it looking too much cleaner than it does here. No problems with mpeg compression or edge enhancement worth griping about.
The audio chores are handled by a fine English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track. There's the odd pop in the mix but if you're not listening for them you're probably not going to notice them. Dialogue is easy enough to understand and the score and sound effects are all well balanced. The film shows its age in that it has got a fairly limited range but you can't fault it for that.
Walter and Bill Olsen moderate a commentary track with actress Kristin DeBell which, despite the Olsen's best efforts, comes up a bit short. Ms. DeBell is amiable enough and quite charming at times, presenting herself as quite down to earth and with a decent sense of humor but she really just doesn't really remember all that much about the making of this movie. The moderators ask some good questions but they don't quite get the dirt and the detail that maybe they'd hoped for. A second, more interesting commentary track wrangles up director Jeff Werner, editor Greg McClatchy, and stars Marilyn Joi and Jason Williams (who is unfortunately very low in the mix for some reason). It's a good natured track that doesn't take things too seriously but which manages to relay a fair bit more information than Ms. DeBell's track does.
The commentary tracks cover some of the same ground as the interviews, though these are still worth watching. Kristin DeBell shows up first and speaks for just shy of eleven minutes about films other than this one that she's appeared in, while Marilyn Joie is on camera for just under fifteen minutes and talks about working on this film as well as the pictures she worked on with two other exploitation auteurs - Don Edmunds and Al Adamson. Leon Isaac Kennedy gets the longest interview, talking for roughly twenty-seven minutes about Cheerleaders Wild Weekend as well as the three better known Penitentiary movies that he made. He talks about the different people he has worked with over the years and where his career has gone in recent times and he comes off as a pretty decent guy with a good knowledge of film.
Rounding out the extras is a still gallery, a theatrical trailer, an alternate title card, animated menus and chapter selection. All in all, this is a pretty stacked deck of supplements.
Basically a caper film with a lot of T&A and some bizarre comedic elements, The Cheerleaders Wild Weekend is entertaining enough in its own right that it's worth a look for those who dig seventies style drive-in oddities. Scorpio Releasing has done a fine job with the DVD release, offering up a strong transfer and plenty of extras. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.