Troubled cheerleader Alison Wentworth (Betsy Russell) suffers horrible nightmares ahead of an all-important pep rally contest. She and her squad, including plucky but put-upon mascot Corey Foster (Lucinda Dickey) arrive at Camp Hurrah where their inane antics incur the displeasure of dictatorial camp leader Miss Benson (Vickie Benson) who takes her cheerleading very seriously indeed. While Alison frets over boyfriend Brent (Leif Garrett) flirting with each pair of pom poms that cross his path, including her bitchy and ambitious teammate Pamela (Teri Weigel), token fat obnoxious comedy relief Timmy (Travis McKenna) does his utmost to get laid or else capture some naked nubile cheerleaders on camera. In the midst of all this titillating tomfoolery, Alison stumbles upon a grisly murder. It happens someone in the camp bears a grudge against the comely cheerleaders and sets out to bump them off, one by one.
Eighties slasher films don’t get any more inane than Bloody Pom Poms or if they do most self-respecting horror fans will want to steer well clear of them. By this point in the decade the genre had long since lapsed into self-parody, hence the screenplay co-authored by David Lee Fein - the man behind Demonoid (1981) which should be warning enough - and R.L. O’Keefe makes scant attempt to take any of its grisly antics the least bit seriously. For the most part debuting director John Quinn, who went on to a lengthy straight-to-video career making everything from family films to softcore fare, pitches the tone less in line with Friday the 13th (1980) than that other landmark Sean S. Cunningham effort, teen sex romp Spring Break (1983). Which means viewers are subjected to an array of eye-rollingly puerile attempts at comedy largely centred around the antics of haplessly horny Timmy, who at various points disguises himself as a less-than-convincing lady in order to sneak a peak at the girls, videotapes Miss Benson indulging a cheerleader sex fantasy for the sleazy Sheriff (Jeff Prettyman) which he then plays to an audience of raucous teens, and feels compelled to bare his blubbery butt. If you are looking for a film that makes Porky’s (1982) seem like the height of sophistication, this is the one to see.
Having said that, buried beneath the swamp of inanity the film offers one novel twist on the slasher formula and seems strangely torn between sledgehammer satire and a half-heartedly serious take on the psychological taken on popularity-seeking high school princesses. Corey and Alison share numerous semi-philosophical discussions on whether winning something as pointless as a cheerleading contest is ultimately worth anything or if it is all down to peer pressure and overbearing parents. Of course the film fails on both levels as horror film and satirical teen romp, but Betsy Russell - fondly remembered star of Eighties teen sex comedies Tomboy (1985) and Private School (1983), latterly enjoying a comeback via the Saw films - and Lucinda Dickey - of the immortal Breakin' (1984) and Ninja III: The Domination (1984) - deliver engagingly earnest performances that are frankly more than the film deserves. If Bloody Pom Poms - or Cheerleader Camp as it was originally known in the States - is remembered for anything, it is the presence of these fan favourites along with such undraped Eighties starlets as Rebecca Ferratti, Lorie Griffin - of Teen Wolf (1985) fame - and Playboy Playmate turned hardcore star Teri Weigel. Amidst the eye candy, noted character actor George 'Buck' Flower pops up as the token creepy groundskeeper who proves equal parts Crazy Ralph and Benny Hill.
Quinn brings a modicum of style to Alison’s deranged dream sequences - including one where she imagines her squad cheering Weigel while she gets it on with fading Seventies teen idol Leif Garrett (arguably well cast as a vacuous, feckless oaf) - with tilted angles and prowling camerawork but the bulk of the film, sporadic gore sequences and all, is hopelessly bland. Oddly, this was co-produced by Japanese studio Daiei, who were behind several of Akira Kurosawa’s early films as well as the Gamera series. How’s that for variety?