The Swinging Cheerleaders Blu-ray Review from Arrow Video

The Swinging Cheerleaders (1974) Arrow Blu-Ray Review

 

Kate, played by Jo Johnston, is a feminist, hippy, journalism student who infiltrates the schools cheerleading squad in order to write an expose The-Swinging-Cheerleaders-Arrow-Videoon the how cheerleading degrades women. While digging up dirt on the whole football/cheerleader culture she discovers a plot by the coach, the dean, and a math teacher to fix the games in order to win big money. Along the way Jo discovers that the cheerleaders aren’t all bimbos and realizes her hippy boyfriend is a scumbag.

I’m a big fan of Jack Hill. Spider Baby is one of my all time favorite movies. The Swinging Cheerleaders is a very different type of film. It fits in with the goofy sex comedy genre but unlike other classic sex comedies, such as Porky’s, there is much less emphasis on the sex. There is definitely a fair share of breast and we get a glimpse of male bush but that really isn’t what the movie is about. There is a great scene which Jack Hill talks about in the special feature in which one of the football jocks beats the snot out of a hippy. It’s quite The-Swinging-Cheerleadersamusing and very poorly choreographed.

The brand new 2K restoration from original film materials is decent but not great. A lot of the football scenes in the movie are particularly bad but I think this was probably just because how it was filmed. Overall nothing to write home about.

As for special features there is an audio commentary by writer-director Jack Hill, recorded exclusively for this release. Then we have a brand new 8 minute interview with Jack Hill in which he talks about his carrier. Nothing new here if you’re a fan of Mr. Hill but interesting for the casual viewer. Next up is an archive interview with cinematographer Alfred Taylor. This is extended parts of an interview he did for the Spider Baby DVD. It’s has some interesting facts but boy is he boring to listen to. There is also an archive interview with Hill and Johnny Legend. If you know and like Johnny Legend, then you won’t be disappointed by this. In true Johnny Legend form this interview is not very conventional and is basically a fan interviewing Jack Hill. It is also The-Swinging-Cheerleaders-reviewthe most interesting interview on the disc. Rounding out the special features is Q&A with Hill, and actors Colleen Camp and Rosanne Katon recorded at the New Beverly Cinema between a double bill of Switchblade Sisters and The Swinging Cheerleaders. The Q&A is quite interesting, but I recommend listening to it and not watching it. It is recorded from the audience with audience members frequently framing the screen and the shaky camera work which tends to get nauseating. Think of a parent filming their child’s recital while drunk. Also included on the disc are TV spots and the usual reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys.

Overall the movie is goofy and is worth a watch if you’re a fan of the genre or a fan of Jack Hill but otherwise I’d say it’s safe to skip it. If you are a fan of Jack Hill, I highly recommend it just to see the range of filmmaking that Mr. Hill produced throughout his carrier.

 

-DeadRat

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Blood Bath Blu-ray Review from Arrow Video

Blood Bath Arrow Video Blu-Ray Review

Arrow Video has really blown me away with another incredible release. This isn’t just a set of four movies but it tell’s the crazy story of Roger Corman taking one movie and spawning three from it.

hqdefault-2Disc 1 (Operation Titan & Portrait in Terror)

First up is Operation Titan which is the film that started it all. It’s basically an art heist/murder mystery with not much to offer. It is fairly well made, but really nothing special. I really understand why Roger Corman wasn’t happy with this movie because it never would have survived at the drive-in and as a result it would make him very little money. This brings us to the next incarnation of the film, Portrait in Terror, which is a re-cut of Operation Titan that has a new score and some added scenes.

 

Disc 2 (Blood Bath & Track of the Vampire)

Blood Bath is where the film transforms into some great shlock. This movie was the result of giving the movie to Jack Hill (Spider Baby, 1967)
and then to Stephanie Rothman (
Terminal Island, 1973). Jack Hill made a rough cut of the movie and then it was handed over to Stephanie Rothman. The movie has nothing to do with Operation Terror and Portrait of Terror and are only connected by the footage that was reused and some of the same actors. Instead of a whodunit, the movie has been transformed into a bizarre and campy vampire flick and in true Jack Hill form, he cast Sid Haig (The Devil’s Rejects, 2003) in a role. Interspersed with the vampire story is some amusing and very tongue in cheek scenes of beatnik artists trying out some new forms of painting. Sid Haig plays one of the beatniks and is really the highlight oblood-bath1f those scenes.

What spawned from Blood Bath was Track of the Vampire, which was the extended TV cut of the film. A few parts are taken out, but much more is added. Blood Bath runs only 62 minutes while Track of the Vampire clocks in at about 80 minutes. This cut of the film makes it a bit more ridiculous than Blood Bath. The best example of this would be the incredibly bizarre chase scene that turns into an underwater vampire attack.  It’s unintentionally funny and goes on for what
seems like forever. It is by far the best scene of aquatic blood sucking that I’ve ever witnessed.

Arrow really doesn’t mess around with the special features on this set. Portrait in Terror, Blood Bath and Track of the Vampire all have brand new 2K restorations that all look quite good. Operation Titan has been reconstructed with original film materials and standard definition inserts so it understandably has the worst picture quality out of the bunch. Although the picture is overall rather impressive, the sound is not. There is some aggressive background static throughout.

The first special feature in this set is, The Trouble with Titian Revisited. It is a brand new visual essay by Tim Lucas about the history and production of all four films. This feature is truly great, and not just a half assed featurette. Mr. Lucas originally penned a three part article in Video Watchdog and has now turned it into a feature length documentary. It’s incredibly interesting and informative that goes in depth about the production, complete with side by side shot comparison. The amount of information and insight in this documentary rivals many film images-2classes I’ve taken.

Next up is a very short interview with Sid Haig called Bathing in Blood that was recorded for this release. This interview is so short that it’s almost unnecessary. But if you’re into hearing Sid Haig talk very quietly than check it out. We also get an even shorter archive interview with Jack Hill.

As part of the limited box set you get a beautiful double-sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artworks and a great limited edition booklet containing new writing on the film and its cast by Peter Stanfield, Anthony Nield, Vic Pratt and Cullen Gallagher. There is also Outtakes from Track of the Vampire, scanned from original film materials and the usual reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dan Mumford.

I can’t recommend this set enough. Weather you’re a fan of Corman or Jack Hill, a fan of cheesy vampire movies, or just interested in a truly unique piece of film history, this set is for you. For about $35, you get 4 movies plus a feature length documentary. Blood Bath and the documentary alone are worth the money. And I implore you to pick up the limited set because the poster and book are very much worth it.

 

-DeadRat