BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

The Swinging Cheerleaders (1974) - Blu-ray Review

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The Swinging Cheerleaders - Blu-ray Review

5 beersFor anyone who hates on exploitation film auteur Jack Hill’s The Swinging Cheerleaders for its objectification of women – namely cheerleaders – there’s a need for a brief lesson in film and cultural history.  Made during the 1970s, Hill’s movie was a very tough and very real examination of powerful women positioned on the sidelines.  Their collective efforts would, no pun intended, eventually give birth to a cultural awakening involving sex and feminism.  But it had to begin somewhere and Hill, with the films he did with Pam Grier and the girl gangs in Switchblade Sisters, was climbing that mountain.  It can be argued, in fact, that he was leading that charge, whether or not he knew that at the time.

The Swinging Cheerleaders gave drive-ins a new version of the “it” girl.  The power of the pom pom and the women who hold it.  It ends with a slapstick romp as a football squad takes on a campus’ security and has to go on and win the game.  But it is also a very political film and the women, who use their sexuality as a weapon, hold all the cards.  Aligning itself alongside the rising stars in The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, the film stars cult favorites Collen Camp, Rainbeaux Smith, Rosanne Katon, and Jo Johnston as Kate, the undercover journalism student who writes a scathing paper about female exploitation in contemporary society, the film is a perfect example of the thinking-man’s exploitation flick.

Hill, who wrote and directed, was firing on all thrusters during the shoot.  The football players and the adult males who lead them are drooling ninnies.  We feel nothing for them.  By calling attention to Coach Turner’s binocular habits as its frame usually lands on the asses of the cheerleaders, the audience can both laugh and feel ashamed.  Why?  Because we are doing it, too.  WE HAVE TO.  Through their own lusting, Hill reveals the audience’s own libidinous ways.  It is effective and intentional and provides a nice weight to the spectacle on screen.

The dramedy, armed with domestic abuse, a teacher-student affair, and an off-screen gang bang shows the ugliness of the society.  Nothing has changed.  As if that wasn’t enough, The Swinging Cheerleaders also tackles the struggle of the virgin unlike any other film before it (and maybe even after it, too).  In this sensitive portrayal, one of the girls confesses her struggle to find the right guy.  While her squad encourages her to just “do” a stranger, she feels sex is not what they believe it to be and when she finally acquiesces, the results are shocking.  It is quite believable and, given the fact that she becomes an abuse victim, quite sad to hear how joyfully the “liberated” woman on the squad wants the details of the night.

With a game-rigging controversy scripted by the head of Mesa University’s alumi association that must be revealed, The Swinging Cheerleaders plays its audience with a political intelligence that even its slapstick ending, set to ragtime music, can’t deflate.  Hill’s film is sexy, yes, but it is the audience who are being exploited.  Rather clever, eh?  The tough females in this picture answer their oppression with a spirited “Fuck You!” response that can’t go unheard.

The Swinging Cheerleaders, a favorite of Quentin Tarantino’s, celebrates its blu-ray debut with a brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative.  Scoop it up now and give your all for the team!

The Swinging Cheerleaders - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
91 mins
Director
: Jack Hill
Writer:
Jack Hill; David Kidd
Cast:
Jo Johnston, Cheryl Smith, Colleen Camp
Genre
: Action | Comedy
Tagline:
They gave their all for the team!
Memorable Movie Quote: "You know the only reason I don't beat the crap out of you, is because I think you'd like it!"
Distributor:
Centaur
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 1974
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
July 5, 2016
Synopsis: In order to write an expose on how cheerleading demeans women, a reporter for a college newspaper infiltrates the cheerleading squad.

The Swinging Cheerleaders - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Two-disc Special Edition

Available on Blu-ray - July 5, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Language
: English
Audio:
Mono 1.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

Arrow Video, oh how I love you.  The new 2K restoration is a work of celluloid art and, as it was done with Jack Hill’s blessing, the ONLY way to see the movie.  The film might have been shot in 12 days but 1080p transfer flies in the face of that fact.  Presented in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio, the film has never looked as good as it does now.  Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, and light scratches have been removed.  Image stability and density fluctuation have been improved, too, leaving a picture that combines bold colors with deep black levels.  The original mono soundtrack was transferred from the original 35mm magnetic track and has been fully restored, too.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Recorded for this release, Jack Hill’s brand new commentary – with input from Elijah Drenner – is engaging and insightful.  Fans of Jack Hill need to hear what he has to say, even if he repeats a lot of what he had to say in his interviews.

Special Features:

Arrow Video continues to give Scream Factory a run for their money with these region-free releases.  Loaded with a new interview with Hill, the supplemental items for the film are strong and will definitely please the film’s followers.  In an archival interview, the film’s cinematographer, Alfred Taylor, weighs in on the impact of the movie.  He is joined by Hill in the interview, too. The best of the bunch included here is a Q&A with Hill, Camp, and Rosanne Katon that was recorded at the New Beverly Cinema in 2012.  With a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys and a DVD included, owning this release of The Swinging Cheerleaders can’t be beat.

  • Jack Hill Interview (8 min)
  • Alfred Taylor Interview (10 min)
  • Archive Interview with Hill and Johnny Legend (11 min)
  • 2012 Q&A (20 min)
  • TV Spots

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