Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Swingin' Review

Here's Daniel XIII from Famous Monsters with groovy new review!

RELEASE DATE: Available Now on Blu-ray/DVD Combo
WRITTEN BY: Jack Hill, David Kidd
STARRING: Jo Johnston, Cheryl Smith, Colleen Camp

 Sometimes I sit back and think to myself; “Daniel XIII, you just don’t get to review enough flicks where a spunky lady goes undercover as a cheerleader to expose corruption on campus”. O.k.; ya saw right through that…I have never thought about that; not even as I thought it up and wrote it down…which is strange I admit. Anyway; let’s take a look at a film that deals with that very subject; THE SWINGING CHEERLEADERS!
 Since I’m assuming that you don’t start reading a review by skipping the first paragraph; you already know the basic gist of the story of this here flick; but let me expand on that a bit. When intrepid college reporter Kate goes undercover as a cheerleader to expose the denigration of women in ‘contemporary’ society she ends up with an even bigger scoop; namely a betting scheme perpetrated by the team’s coach and his academic chums.
 Along the way we are treated to boobs and babes (and babe’s boobs) as you would expect, but along with the (puritanical by the standards of today) nudity, director Jack Hill (SPIDER BABY, SWITCHBLADE SISTERS) plays with preconceived notions in a fascinating way. Take for instance the usual trope of the one-note lunk-head jock and the campus radical. In THE SWINGING CHEERLEADERS the athletic types are presented as fully nuanced characters; kind and chivalrous (some burdened with troubled pasts), while the normally peace-nik, tree huggin’ radical is a truly despicable rapist. The plot itself changes on a dime as well; running the gamut from feminist social commentary laced drama to outright slap-stick comedy. All of which keeps the proceedings fresh in what could easily be just another drive-in skin flick in less sure hands.
 While the main feature is entertaining enough; the extra features present on this release aren’t too shabby either! Along with a new 2K restoration of the film, you also get a brief interview with director Jack Hill (along with a newly recorded, informative and lively commentary track by the same), archive interviews with cinematographer Alfred Taylor and Johnny Legend (also featuring Hill), an archival Q&A session (with Hill and stars Colleen Camp and Rosanne Katon, and a few TV spots.
 If you are a fan of Jack Hill’s other films, then I can guarantee you will enjoy this one as it contains many of his signature themes (strong female leads, deft blending of multiple genres to tell an entertaining , socially conscious story). On the opposite end of the spectrum; if you are a neophyte to the man’s work, this is a good place to start as at its core, the flick is pure genre exploitation (with kernels of social commentary for those willing to look beyond the titillation). In either regard; I recommend this flick to all lovers of drive-in cinema! 

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