The Movie Waffler Blu-ray Review - THE SWINGING CHEERLEADERS (1974) | The Movie Waffler



A college reporter goes undercover with the cheerleading team to expose institutional sexism.

Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Jack Hill

Starring: Jo Johnston, Rainbeaux Smith, Colleen Camp, Rosanne Katon

The Swinging Cheerleaders is released by Arrow Video on Dual Format Blu-ray and DVD July 4th.

The Swinging Cheerleaders is the low point of cult writer-director Jack Hill's otherwise thrill packed filmography. A sex comedy that's neither sexy nor funny, this is unlikely to inspire many touchdowns.

Gimme a J! Gimme an A! Gimme a C! Gimme a K!

Gimme a H! Gimme an I! Gimme two Ls!

What's that spell?

Well, usually it would add up to a rollercoaster ride of exploitation filmmaking, but The Swinging Cheerleaders is the low point of cult writer-director Jack Hill's otherwise thrill packed filmography. A sex comedy that's neither sexy nor funny, this is unlikely to inspire many touchdowns.

College reporter Kate (Jo Johnston, an exquisite blend of Susan Sarandon and Christina Ricci who disappeared from the acting scene upon becoming pregnant during this film's production) gets herself picked for the cheerleading team with the secret aim of penning an exposé of institutional sexism. At first dismissing them as air-headed bimbos, Kate soon becomes friends with the head cheerleaders - Mary Ann (Colleen Camp), Lisa (Rosanne Katon, one of Playboy's first African-American centrefolds) and Andrea (Rainbeaux Smith). She also finds herself subject to the lustful attentions of horny quarterback Buck (Ron Hajek), who happens to be engaged to soccer-Mom-in-the-making Mary Ann.

Meanwhile, Lisa is having an affair with one of her professors (Jason Sommers, whose hunky good looks are offset by the dress sense of a childrens' TV host), while the virginal but curious Andrea is preyed upon by college radical and Bob Dylan lookalike Ron (Ian Sander).

Throw in a subplot concerning the school authorities' attempts to fix the big game, much to the chagrin of Buck, and you have a pretty standard collegiate sex farce.

Surprisingly for a Jack Hill movie, The Swinging Cheerleaders is poorly paced and devoid of energy. There's none of the demented mayhem of his Women-in-Prison flicks (The Big Doll House, The Big Bird Cage), his Pam Grier blaxploitation epics (Coffy, Foxy Brown) or his girl gang thriller Switchblade Sisters on show here, and the dialogue lacks punch. Despite the plucky efforts of its enthusiastic young cast, none of the characters sufficiently hold our interest.

Unlike most sexploitation movies of the era - particularly those produced by Roger Corman - Hill's film is decidedly conservative in its outlook. The feminist protagonist embraces the cheerleading lifestyle she initially sets out to critique, while the campus radical ends up initiating a gang rape!

However, the post Watergate mood of the nation is reflected by the crooked college authorities' plot to rig a match for their own gain. America, Hill seems to be saying, has been failed by those on both sides of the political divide, but the all-American institutions of football and cheerleading retain their simple purity regardless.


Jack Hill provides an exclusive commentary and a new interview. Archive interviews with Hill, cinematographer Alfred Taylor and Johnny Legend. A Q&A with Hill and stars Colleen Camp and Rosanne Katon recorded at the New Beverly Cinema in 2012. TV spots and the usual Arrow booklet. While this may be Hill's least interesting film, this bonus features package makes it a must have for fans of the director.

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