Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 14th, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1974
Director: Jack Hill
Writers: Jack Hill, David Kidd
Cast: Jo Johnston, Cheryl Smith, Colleen Camp, Rosanne Katon, Ron Hajak, Ric Carrott, Jason Sommers, John Quade, Bob Minor
BluRay released: July 4th, 2016 (UK) / July 5th, 2016 (USA)
Approximate running time: 91 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region Free / Region Free NTSC
Retail Price: $34.95 (USA) / £15.99 (UK)
The Swinging Cheerleaders was co-written and directed by Jack Hill whose other notable films include, Mondo Keyhole, Spider Baby, Pit Stop, The Big Doll House, The Big Bird Cage, Coffy, Foxy Brown and Switchblade Sisters. Key collaborators on The Swinging Cheerleaders include, cinematographer Alfred Taylor (The Teacher, Killer Klowns from Outer Space) and composers William Loose (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Devil Times Five) and William Allen Castleman (The Defilers).
After directing what is arguably two of the best examples of Blaxploitation, the one, two punch of Coffy and Foxy Brown. Jack Hill would follow up these films with what is easily his most lighthearted film The Swinging Cheerleaders. Also though comedy has always played a role in the majority of Hill’s films, it plays an even larger role in this film.
This film’s premise quickly draws you into its web of deceit. At the heart of this film is a young woman trying to expose the truth about cheerleaders and along the way she discovers an even more hideous scheme involving the gambling and fixing the outcome of football games. With the film heaping on the exploitation, when this film is not delving into its more serious subject matter.
From a production strand point it is outstanding what this film was able to accomplish in just twelve shooting days. The narrative is well constructed and easy to follow. And when it comes to pacing there is never an issue as things move along briskly from one revelation to the next. Also for a film that is knee deep in humor, the most memorable moment is actually the darkest moment in the film involves the gang rapping of one of the cheerleaders.
Performance the entire cast are all good in their respective roles. With this film’s standout performances being, Cheryl Smith (Massacre at Central High, Cinderella) in the role of Andrea, it is this character that the aforementioned sexual assault happens too and Jo Johnston in the role of Kate, an investigative reporter who changes her outlook by the end of the film. Remarkable this is her one and only screen performance. Needless to say it ranks amongst the greatest one and done performances in the history of film.
The Swinging Cheerleaders comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. For this release a brand new 2k transfer has been created and the end result is easily the best this film has looked on home video to date. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, black levels fare well and details generally look crisp. Also grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. This audio track sounds clean, clear, balanced and robust when it needs too.
Extras for this release include, T.V, spots (1 minute 33 seconds), three interviews – the first interview with screenwriter / director Jack Hill (8 minutes 6 seconds), the second interview with cinematographer Alfred Taylor (10 minutes 12 seconds), the third interview with Jack Hill and Johnny Legend (10 minutes 33 seconds), a Q & A at the New Beverly Cinema with Jack Hill, Colleen Camp and Rosanne Katon (19 minutes 15 seconds) and an audio commentary with Jack Hill.
Topics discussed in the interview with Jack Hill include, how his father worked for Warner Brothers and how he Topics discussed in the interview with grew up in the film industry, music / film scores and the transition to being a director, early on in his filmmaking career collaborating with Francis Ford Coppola and Roger Cormen, AIP and why so many film negatives for independently made features like The Swinging Cheerleaders have been lost.
Topics discussed in the interview with Alfred Taylor include, his early memories working in the film industry, Spider Baby, filmmaking techniques, The Swinging Cheerleaders and various other films that he has worked on.
Topics discussed in the interview with Jack Hill and Johnny Legend include, what lead to him being involved in directing The Swinging Cheerleaders, how the film was shot in 12 days, audience reaction to the film and the cast.
Topics discussed in the Q & A include, the cheerleader pledge, locations featured in the film, Alfred Taylor and the look of the film, Jo Johnson and what she has been up to since appearing in this film and this film’s tongue and cheek sense of humor.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, the origins of The Swinging Cheerleaders, the film’s opening credits, locations featured in the film, how filming began in February and the film was in theaters by May, use of stock footage, the cast and information about them, key moments are discussed and other production related topics.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a twenty-four-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled Pom Poms and Politics written by Cullen Gallagher and information about the restoration. Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall another exceptional release from Arrow Video.