I was happy to once again this year get a chance to attend one of TIFF’s Midnight Madness presentations. Wish I could see all of them this year, but alas, this was not possible.
**Warning. This post may contain spoilers**
Lucky McKee’s work has always hit the right spot for me, especially, MAY (2002). I’m not as familiar with his co-director Chris Sivertson’s work, but do recall enjoying his film THE LOST (2006) based on horror author Jack Ketchum’s novel.
ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE, starts off with one of the characters, Maddy, filming a mock documentary on her high school’s cheerleaders. This was fun to watch as an intro to the movie, and the directors hit all the right spots with the stylized scenes, and hard rap music during the high school cheer-leading sequences. The tone of this movie is set up perfectly when a surprise cheer-leading accident, steers the story in the direction it needs to go. The effect of the cheerleader’s death was realistic and stunning. The audience gasped, and some of us even clapped in glee (some guy behind us kept giggling like a little school girl throughout).
Maddy wants revenge on her deceased friend’s boyfriend Terry and his new girlfriend and new head cheerleader Tracy, so she tries out for and joins the cheer-leading squad, and in the process, seduces Tracy into some lesbian loving experimentation. Terry, being the angry jock when he finds out, ends up punching the crap out of Tracy at a secluded party out in the wild, and this results in a car chase/accident, ending up with the death of the cheerleaders involved. Luckily (or not), one of Maddy’s Wicca friends (who is a former obsessed lover), witnesses the whole ordeal and ends up resurrecting the dead girls. They wake up hungry for blood and horny, too.
The second half of the film goes off into some wacky, at times humorous stuff. One highlight is of Tracy walking outside in only her underwear to the neighbor’s house to drink some of his milk…and blood. I wasn’t too fond of some of the effects, such as the glowing stones used by the Wiccan girl. This added to the cheese an campyness, yes, but overall it just looked cheap. A lot of the violence in the film was present, of course, but it never felt too extreme, and maintained the mostly lighter tones of the film, in my view. I know many who saw it will disagree with that. Maybe i was expecting more 0ver-the-top gore or something. There is sex in this, unsurprisingly, but it’s used for a purpose, including some really funny moments, such as the guy having sex with one of the undead girls and commenting on how cold her vagina feels.
Overall, the entire cast was good, especially Caitlin Stacie (Maddy) and Brook Butler (Tracy). There were some problems with the plot, such as the fact that all of the insanity occurs and nobody else aside from the main group is around to see any of it, but all-in-all, it’s a fun and quirky storyline.
ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE, has many of the elements that make Lucky McKee’s films memorable, but it never quite reaches the great heights of some of his best work, like MAY and THE WOMAN. His team-up with Sivertson might continue on to a sequel if the hint at the end of the film is any indication. I look forward to seeing what else these guys can come up with. This was a strong effort that I plan on watching again when I have a chance. I also want that soundtrack for the gangsta beats.
The q&a that followed with the directors and cast was fun, although many of the questions asked by those in the crowd were cliche and tame. Thankfully, the female cast members on stage were really enthusiastic and seemed super excited to be there, resulting in some genuinely amusing moments during the session. I was surprised and disappointed that the real life cheerleaders that were in attendance didn’t actually do anything for the event. I thought maybe there would have been some stunt planned. Can’t complain, though. It was a fun night.