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Bringing it On

Like most Americans my age, I grew up watching HBO and Cinemax in the 1980s. Those late-night movies depicting teens either getting fucked or slashed certainly skewed my thoughts on what high school would be like: lockers outside, gay bashing, and students who looked like they were 30. One thing I could also be sure of was that, if I nestled in the cleavage of a cheerleader (a female cheerleader, that is), I was set. And while after junior high I realized that cheerleaders were, in fact, airheads with yeast infections, I never lost my love for those cinematic pep squads.

A movie so wonderful that I hear angels singing whenever I mention it, Pandemonium (1982) spoofs the cheerleader/slasher genre. To minimize the film's brilliance, I could say that a killer offs several cheerleaders at a spirit camp. Instead, I'll mention that Paul Reubens plays a local deputy, someone gets impaled by a megaphone, Candy Azzara famously fills her bathtub with milk and cookies, and Judge Reinhold and Carol Kane co-star! Speaking of cheerleader camps, how about 1987's Cheerleader Camp? The coeds assembled at Camp Hurrah meet a similar fate—you know, a vengeful murderer targeting skirts at a remote retreat—but one of the best things about this film is that it doesn't waste time with exposition or, actually, any explanation of events. We see bare tits within 10 minutes of the credits, and bloody ponytails five minutes after that! Leif Garrett stars as the heartthrob male cheerleader (although I swear I noticed long lesbian looks between Alison and Pam).

The sex in The Swinging Cheerleaders (1974) is all heterosex, but there are some "bra parties" to be seen. Directed by Jack Hill (Foxy Brown, Coffy), The Swinging Cheerleaders is the paragon of cheerleader "genre" flicks: There's a thoughtful plot, some good acting, sweet-ass art direction, and—most importantly—a deflowering.

Most of you are likely more familiar with the Bring it On series (2000-2007). The presence of Gabrielle Union and her posse makes the original most appealing; its three sequels can only be judged by their respective end sequences. The first (Bring it On Again) is, not surprisingly, worthless. But the third (Bring it On: All or Nothing) has some merit: Not only is there a cheer-off toward the end, but the last 15 minutes star Rihanna, who says, "No she didn't!"

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