The Cheerleaders (1972) The Cheerleaders/The 18 Year Old Schoolgirls (1972) -*

     It’s been at least six years since I last watched a straight-up American softcore porno, and even longer since I saw one as old as The Cheerleaders (which goes by the leaden and ungainly name The 18 Year Old Schoolgirls in the UK— what? Do you Brits not have cheerleaders or something?). Man, I’d flat-out forgotten how utterly and unredeemedly wretched most of the things were. Of course, it’s not like we ought to expect very much from a movie that credits Jerry Gross— the man behind such lofty pinnacles of anti-entertainment as I Drink Your Blood— as executive producer.

     The film’s perfunctory non-plot begins by establishing that the lead-up to the varsity football playoffs has caught the Amorosa High School cheerleading squad one girl short of full strength; one of the squad’s most popular and talented members has managed to get herself knocked up, and is thus unable to finish out the semester. Because this is apparently the first season in living memory in which the Amorosa Bears have had any real chance of winning the championship, squad captain Claudia (Denise Dillaway) and coach Isabel Fields (Terri Teague) are desperate to fill the vacant slot— presumably it’s the promise of a more-fantastic-than-usual lay that’s given the boys that little something extra this year. Meanwhile, Jeannie Davis (Stephanie Fondue), a friend of cheerleaders Bonnie (Jovita Bush) and Debbie (Brandy Woods), is nearing the bottom of a year-long sulk over her inability to get quit of her maidenhead. Jeannie’s got a boyfriend, but Norm (Jonathan Jacobs) is almost unendurably dull and has yet to exhibit the faintest hint of sexual interest in her. What Jeannie wants most is to become a cheerleader. With those red-and-white pom-poms and the cachet that comes with them, Jeannie figures her virginity problems would rapidly become a thing of the past. Jeannie’s dream begins to come true when Claudia and Miss Fields realize that a terminal virgin is exactly what they need— no chance of her getting pregnant before the big game!— and admit her into the squad. The catch is that Jeannie’s aims in joining the squad are obviously at cross-purposes to theirs; indeed, Claudia goes so far as to wager Miss Fields a night in bed with the most loathsome male available (Norm for Claudia and the odious Custodian Novi [Raul Hoffnung] for Miss Fields) that she can prevent the new recruit from getting any action at all before the championship game.

     And as you can probably guess, from this point on, it’s just one sex scene after another, as the other cheerleaders (who don’t know about their captain’s bet) try to get Jeannie laid while Claudia does everything in her power to derail their efforts on her behalf. Meanwhile, Novi and senior alpha-stud Jon (Richard Meatwhistle— can that possibly be his real name?!?!) are attempting to fix the outcome of the final game between Amorosa and Central High so as to clean up on all the below-the-board gambling that’s sure to go on. Jon’s unbeatable strategy: He arranges for the Amorosa football team to crash the cheerleaders’ slumber party over at Jeannie’s place. The girls, predictably, are so pleased with the unexpected windfall of varsity cock that they proceed to fuck every member of the team unconscious! When Claudia gets finished doing the same to Jeannie’s dad (don’t ask— it’s too icky to explain), comes back into the den, and discovers what her fellow pom-pomers have done, she’s horrified. The girl’s a nimble thinker, though, and swiftly settles on a way to redress the balance on the gridiron the next day— the Amorosa cheerleaders will spend the rest of the night doing to Central High’s team what they’ve already done to their own. And the following afternoon, when Claudia and company discover that Central High has fielded a new player whose name hadn’t yet been added to the published roster, it inevitably falls to Jeannie to make a precision commando raid on Central’s locker room at halftime to take out this last functional player, enabling her to accomplish at last the goal that set her whole involvement in this sorry tale in motion in the first place.

     I think I’ve figured out why our sexploitation movies from the 70’s were so much lamer than the ones they were making over in Europe at the time. Ours, almost without exception, were comedies. In America, today just as much as in the those long-gone years of shaggy hair and ugly ties, comedy + sex = lots of really awful dick jokes, and The Cheerleaders is no exception to the rule. “Sophomoric” doesn’t begin to cover it. Even the sex itself is used jokingly most of the time, which has the effect of sucking just about every last particle of eroticism out of the movie. Some of the actresses here (if we may call them that) are awfully cute in a good-looking-girl-you-might-actually-meet kind of way (not even an atrocious asymmetrical mullet can make Stephanie Fondue look bad), and God knows they all spend enough time with their clothes off. So it’s a damned shame the nitwits responsible for this movie have gone to such great lengths to prevent us from enjoying them.



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