This double-disc set from Arrow proffers the early 1970s smut comedies THE CHEERLEADERS and REVENGE OF THE CHEERLEADERS.

Disc one kicks off with 1973's THE CHEERLEADERS (a.k.a. RETURN TO MONTCLAIR HIGH; THE 18 YEAR OLD SCHOOLGIRLS), directed by Paul Glickler of HOT CIRCUIT fame.

The film wastes no time in showing us the talents of Amarosa High's cheerleading team - both beside the pitch cheering their football team on, and then stripping immediately afterwards for the communal showers. Oh wait, as the opening credits kick in, the words "Jerry Gross presents" appear on screen. Ah, that makes sense!

Then we meet Jeannie (Stephanie Fondue), a cute but dull kid who hangs out alone at the burger stall, trying but failing to catch the burger flipper's eye. He, like everyone else, has his eye instead on the school cheerleaders. They flirt with boys in their convertible at the burger bar and mix with cool dude Jon (Richard Meatwhistle - real surname?!) who can get them anything at short notice - including 3,000 birth control pills.

Jeannie tires of witnessing the fun that the cheerleaders and their boyfriends have (screwing in the car wash etc), and decides to try out for the cheerleading team herself.

Despite the protestations of her geeky pal Norm (Jonathan Jacobs), Jeannie calls on friends Debbie (Brandy Woods) and Bonnie (Jovita Bush) to teach her a thing or two about making the team. They promptly pop over to Jeannie's house and give her a few fashion tips, then set about screwing her brother while she tries out different looks in her room.

The afternoon ends with Jeannie confessing to her friends that she's a virgin - "and I always have been" - and fears that she always will be. Between them, Bonnie and Debbie vow to get Jeannie on the team in a bid to bring the boys to her.

At the try-outs, the team captain advises the coach that Jeannie is a virgin - words spreads, it would seem, even if Jeannie's legs don't - and the two decide to place her on the team, if only so they can share a bet on whether she'll still be pure come the end of the season.

So, with Jeannie on the cheerleading team, her friends point her in the direction of the showers so she can freshen up. Unbeknownst to Jeannie, they lead her into the boy's showers. Luckily for her, Norm shows up to prevent the unfolding gang-rape (set to comedic music, would you credit it).

But Jeannie's delighted to have made the team and soon finds herself hanging out at the burger bar with her cool friends, catching the eye of the burger-flipper and progressively getting closer to the hipper-than-hip Jon.

Dumb sight gags, crude CARRY ON-style double entendres and funky porno music drive the film through several softcore vignettes as Jeannie and her co-ed pals get naked and fresh with young bucks here and there, ensuring a plethora of wobbly tits and pasty white bottoms in motion.

Somewhere amidst all this promiscuous young nookie is Coach Gannon (Patrick Wright) and his football team, determined to win the season. However, as we're frequently reminded, they find the curvy cheerleaders something of a distraction. So it seems only sensible when they decide to use the girls to their advantage. They hatch a plan to kidnap the opposing team so the cheerleaders can relentlessly fuck them, effectively sapping them of all their pre-match energy ...

As dumb in execution as it sounds on paper, THE CHEERLEADERS is also too enjoyable to be readily dismissed. It is in part a coming-of-age tale for the innocent young Jeannie, and part clichéd high school sex comedy - complete with a lesbian gym teacher, a football coach obsessed with anal sex, a caretaker who watches the girls change through a peephole, and more.

The film is short at 78 minutes in length and snappily paced. Dialogue is thick and fast, with many gags offering a suggestively rude humour that is positively coy by today's standards. The young girls are filled with zest and deliver their lines, however crude at times, with permanently friendly smiles across their faces.

Although never explicit, the sex scenes are frequent and energetic. The female form is often shown in its full frontal, bushy splendour, and these girls look uniformly fantastic in the days before plastic surgery effectively killed porno.

It may not be funny enough to elicit a laugh from the viewer, but the film is charming enough to leave you with a smile on your face. The only downside is the mixed signals the film gives out regarding Jeannie's aspirations to be popular, turning her into a harlot to achieve this. The moral of the tale is ... well, there isn't really one.

Still, when the film offers great slow-motion shots of topless girls on a water slide, a whacked-out score from David Herman and a truly bizarre scene where one cheerleader seduces Jeannie's hairy father, it seems churlish to complain of such matters.

Had it been hardcore, THE CHEERLEADERS would be a minor masterpiece of the genre. As it stands, it's harmless and quaintly dated fun.

Disc one offers THE CHEERLEADERS in a decent, colourful 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer. Blacks are strong and detail is fine, although some grain is evident throughout.

The English mono soundtrack plays without problem. An animated main menu is set to the film's bubblegum theme tune. A static scene-selection menu allows access to the main feature via 12 chapters.

The only extra on disc one is a trailer. This lasts just over 2 minutes and makes the film look more like a porno than it is. Although more grainy than the main feature, it's a decent 1.78:1 anamorphic proposition. The English mono audio is a little muffled.

The fun continues on disc two with REVENGE OF THE CHEERLEADERS (a.k.a. H.O.T.S. 2), from 1976.

In Richard Lerner's sequel, the action relocates to Aloha High School in California. Here we meet another excitable (very excitable) bunch of cheerleaders determined to help their football team beat their rivals, Lincoln High.

God, these girls are loud. The whole film is loud, in fact. From the opening rock theme tune (quickly repeated one minute later), to the constant screeches and laughter of these girls in their changing rooms, to the inevitable groaning of the softcore sex scenes - get your aspirins at the ready!

Still, the girls are as young and taut as ever, and if there's only reason to watch this film it must be to catch a glimpse of that boy caught in the girls' locker room in the 7th minute - yes, that's a young David Hasselhoff as the delightfully named Boner!

Elsewhere, this is a cheaper and more tawdry-feeling film than its predecessor.

As much as THE CHEERLEADERS was a simple springboard for one soft sex scene to the next, its cheeriness was its saving grace. This time around, the jokes are arguably too fast and the performances too caricature-like - REVENGE feels desperate to merit as a comedy, and as a consequence is near-unbearable whenever pantomime characters like Doctor Ivory (Carl Ballantine) and Nurse Beam (Eddra Gale) are on screen.

Still, the pace matches the original in terms of being brisk and the lead cheerleaders Gail (Jerii Woods) and Heather (Cheryl Smith) make an excellent impression. The studs are peculiar choices though - aside from the Hoff, look out for ice cream seller Jordan (David Robinson) who must surely be the dimmest-looking Muppet ever to score a blowjob from a hot Asian cheerleader ...

Elsewhere, wacky hi-jinks include drugging canteen food just as the school inspectors pay a visit, and group sex set to John Sterling's funky score.

One more thing: the film comes with Tarantino's seal of approval - if that still counts for anything these days?

The anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer here is a little softer than it's predecessor, and is guilty of a modicum more grain. It looks like good quality VHS, to be fair.

The English mono audio is below the standard of that of the first film too, offering a less consistent and more strained playback.

Again graced with a colourful animated main menu, this disc also contains a static scene-selection menu allowing access to the main feature via 12 chapters.

There are no extras on disc two.

Interesting films and agreeable to a large extent, these are dated but fun and rather innocuous accounts of teenaged sex in the early 1970s. THE CHEERLEADERS is preferable to the overly silly sequel, which also loses points by padding itself out with unnecessary scenes such as an unexplained disco dance in a cafe.

Still, these are worth seeing in terms of pure nostalgia, although it is worth noting that Anchor Bay released a 3-disc set in the US a while back, which also included THE SWINGING CHEERLEADERS along with audio commentaries, stills galleries etc.

Review by Stu Willis

Released by Arrow Films
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review