All Cheerleaders Die: Gossip Girl Meets Thanos (Back to School Week)
Dir. Lucky McKee & Chris Sivertson (2013)
After a brutal car crash that decimates a cheerleading team, they are somehow brought back to life, and now they’re hungry for revenge on the people that caused the crash and anyone else who stands in their way.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Lucky McKee is a brilliant director, with several films in his repertoire that are absolutely deserving of the term cult classic. All Cheerleaders Die is no different, sort of a punk-rock Jennifer’s Body that blends feminist horror with high-school drama. After the death of the head cheerleader, the team welcomes in a new member, Maddy (Caitlin Stasey) who was friends with the dead girl. What they don’t know, however, is that she is determined to take them down. She doesn’t need to do much, though, because the team ends up on the wrong side of the football team, who drunkenly run them off the road after a party in the woods, resulting in the death of the entire team. Thankfully, Maddy is friends/lovers with a witch named Leena (Sianoa Smit-McPhee), who brings the girls back to life with a bit of the ol’ witchcraft. As with most things of this nature, her meddling has consequences: namely, the girls are all now hungry for blood, teenage succubi that are half zombie/ half vampire.
That’s how you make an entrance, girls!
The movie itself is a really unique film, and the witchcraft involved uses casting stones that embed themselves into the girls once they’re raised from the dead. It’s the stones that hold the power, though, and once it is determined that removing the stones not only takes the power from the girl involved but claims that power for yourself, head football player Terry (Tom Williamson) becomes an all-powerful Thanos-like figure, completing the transformation of the film into a mishmash of the Infinity Gauntlet and Gossip Girl. Craziness and a lot of brutal murder ensues, the film taking on a runaway-train property that makes it a helluva thrill ride throughout, especially near the end. It’s funny, too, with McKee’s trademark blend of comedy to offset the horrific on-screen brutality.
This is one that was dismissed, I think, by a lot of people, and it absolutely shouldn’t be. It’s a hidden gem, one that really should be discovered by more of the horror faithful. It’s filled with heart, and it never takes itself any more seriously than it needs to. While Stasey is undeniably the lead in the film, each cheerleader is fantastic to watch, embodying each of their characters and giving them a life of their own. Tracy (Brooke Butler) is ridiculously fun and hilarious, fully embracing her new role as a demonic pep rally girl and new head cheerleader after the opening death of the original. She alone would make the movie worth watching, and her headlong tumble between lesbianism and murder is outstanding to watch. She never blinks an eye when she has to rip out someone’s throat or break into their house looking for food, and she accepts the occurrences as a matter-of-fact reality before any of the other girls even really grasp what’s happening.
All Cheerleaders Die isn’t a perfect movie, to be sure. Some of the plot fails to make sense at times, and it’s perhaps overly demonizing of the male football ego (especially considering their other-gender rivals are literal demonic murderers), but it’s still a thrill ride once things kick off. Fun, energetic, and legitimately funny, it’s absolutely worth a watch, and hopefully it will soon gain the attention it rightly deserves. There’s not a whole lot to be desired from Lucky McKee’s directorial style, as evident by his more well-known works The Woman and May, and this one falls right in line with those two, though perhaps not quite as good. Unfortunately, the teased sequel never came to pass, but maybe that’s something McKee can rectify in the future.
Maybe the girls can team up to fight Ultron.
Who this movie is for: Horror comedy fans; People who want a little fun with their horror; Mascots
Bottom line: A fantastic entry into the Back to School marathon, All Cheerleaders Die is loads of fun and absolutely worth a watch. Lucky McKee is a stellar director that needs way more attention than he gets, and this film is yet another reason why. Hilarious at times and with some truly brutal gore, this one is a film that shouldn’t be missed. Check it out for free on Tubi.