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The Independent Critic

Colleen Camp, Rainbeaux Smith, Rosanne Katon
Jack Hill
Jack Hill (as Jane Witherspoon), David Kidd (as Betty Conklin)
Rated R
91 Mins.

 "The Swinging Cheerleaders" Gets Blu-Ray Treatment from Arrow Films 

A favorite of Quentin Tarantino, who screened the film at his first Tarantino Film Fest, Jack Hill's The Swinging Cheerleaders has received the royal treatment from U.K.-based indie distributor Arrow Films with this best ever packaging for the film as a blu-ray/DVD combo that includes two discs.

Jack Hill was a prolific maker of 70's films emphasizing strong female characters ranging from films about girl gangs (Switchblade Sisters) and women in prison (The Big Doll House, The Big Bird Cage) to two of Pam Grier's most known films, Coffy and Foxy Brown, and this film, Hill's contribution to the Cheerleaders line of drive-in favorites.

In the film, Kate (Jo Johnston), an undergraduate at Mesa University, goes undercover as a cheerleader for her college newspaper in order to expose ‘female exploitation in contemporary society’. But instead of oppression she finds love, friendship and a bigger fish to fry: corruption in the football team, headed up by the coach and his pals. The Swinging Cheerleaders features a cast of cult favorites including Colleen Camp (Wayne’s World, Game of Death), Rainbeaux Smith (Caged Heat, The Incredible Melting Man) and future Playmate of the Month Rosanne Katon.

If you've followed my reviews over the years, you know I have a tendency to recognize the value of films that many would consider B-movies, often times films that may not be considered perfect cinematically yet are infinitely watchable and an awful lot of film. Many of today's top stars got their starts in what amounted to as B-movies.

The Swinging Cheerleaders isn't one of Hill's best films even by B-movie standards. It's an inconsistent and uneven film with mostly weak performances from the male players and mixed messages about female empowerment crossed with scenes of sexual "freedom" that we would now acknowledge as not so thinly veiled sexual exploitation. It was the 70's, sure, and it was different. It's just important to acknowledge that what was seen as fun in the 70's borders on creepy now.

This is not to say that Arrow hasn't given it their usual terrific packaging. Oh my, this is an amazing effort on their behalf. These are the extras and they are all director approved:

  • Brand new 2K restoration from original film materials
  • High Definition (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD Presentations
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Audio commentary by writer-director Jack Hill, recorded exclusively for this release
  • Brand new interview with Jack Hill
  • Archive interview with cinematographer Alfred Taylor
  • Archive interview with Hill and Johnny Legend
  • Q&A with Hill, and actors Colleen Camp and Rosanne Katon recorded at the New Beverly Cinema in 2012
  • TV spots
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys

It's the extras here that are a lot of fun, infinitely watchable add-ons that explore a different place and time in cinema. This 2-disc combo is about as good as you're ever going to get and Arrow has made it region free - so you can watch it here in the states. I can still remember when I first started reviewing Arrow's releases how I'd stumble across releases consistently that would be such a royal hassle here in the states. That's not true anymore!

For more information on the film, click on the "Buy This Film" link and get all the details!

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic