October 15th, 2014
|10:45 pm - 31 Days of Halloween: All Cheerleaders Die|
All Cheerleaders Die is the damndest movie. As I typed that, it occurred to me that I'd already used that phrase, so I Googled it and discovered that I'd described Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil that way in 2012. I liked that movie better than this one, so if it's accuracy and precision you're looking for, I guess I'll have to clarify by saying that All Cheerleaders Die is the second damndest movie.
I'm going to spoil almost the entire movie here, so skip the summary if you want to see it.
The opening of the film appears to be shot on a camcorder as the head cheerleader Alexis demonstrates the squad's moves, then shows off by being launched high into the air and accidentally coming straight down on her head, breaking her neck and killing her instantly. Maddy, the camerawoman, gets it all on tape.
Maddy and Alexis had been best friends in childhood, but grew apart as Maddy became more rebellious. In a video diary entry, Maddy explains that she's disgusted that Alexis's boyfriend Terry--the captain of the football team--has simply rotated to Tracy, the next cheerleader in line. Maddy plans to join cheerleading squad to get revenge on "bitches" like Tracy. Yeah, it's going to be a teenage revenge fantasy: the renegade cheerleader is going to murder the girls who ostracized her.
At which point the movie starts taking off in completely unexpected directions, and doesn't stop until the credits roll.
Maddy's gothy, Wiccan, ex-girlfriend Leena explains that no good can come of this decision, and as proof consults her Bag of Magic Stones. In addition to predicting the future, she mentions that the stones can grant wishes, but she's afraid to do it because she's read The Monkey's Paw.
Maddy develops a crush on Tracy, another cheerleader who is dating Terry, the captain of the football team. Terry gets jealous, and during a drunken party in the woods he starts a fight. The girls leave and Terry pursues them in his car, eventually running them off the road. They drown in Tracy's overturned car, hence the title All Cheerleaders Die.
Leena has been watching all this, and rushes down to the car, pulls the girls out, and accidentally invokes the wishing power of the stones, which glow, levitate, and become embedded into the flesh of each of the girls present. Bosoms start rising, eyes start opening, and the girls trudge back to Leena's house for a good night's sleep. After the initial shock passes, the cheerleaders discover that they love living death. They're nearly invincible, and the only drawback being that need blood to sustain themselves. Any time one of the girls feeds or has an orgasm, the sensation is passed to the group in the form of intense physical pain.
Of course, the ultimate goal is to take revenge on Terry, who knows for a fact that these girls should be dead. He pays careful attention to them, and sooner or later figures out what's actually going on, at which point he begins hunting the girls down and cutting out their stones which returns them to death. Terry ingests the stones, and finds that they give him superhuman strength.
In a comparison that no one else is going to make, All Cheerleaders Die reminded me of the movie Up. Both stories require huge intuitive leaps of storytelling to get from Point A to Point B, as if the screenwriters spent most of their time trying to decide what the audience would be least expecting. Up is a brilliant film. All Cheerleaders Die is trash, but it's inspired trash. I've been reading the phrase "Hollywood is out of ideas" online for at least a decade, and if anything is likely to lift Hollywood out of its creative funk, it is inspired trash. What's that quote from Pauline Kael?
Somehow I missed it in the credits, but Wikipedia tells me that All Cheerleaders Die is the work of Lucky McKee, who also wrote and directed May, in which the quiet girl you wanted to date in high school plays Dr. Frankenstein. May is one of my favorite horror movies of the last--oh, I was going to say decade, but it's been twelve years since May came out. Slightly sobering. Uh, anyway, yes. Lucky McKee. Talented horror writer/director. Knows how to push my buttons. I can only recommend his work--even when it's trash.
Anyway, here's the trailer.