Throughout cult-movie history, the American cheerleader has come to stand for something demonic, bitchy, slutty, and secretly lesbian, resulting in an archetype as American as apple pie, football, and well, cheerleading itself: the Subversive Cheerleader Genre. In honor of the latest entry to the canon, All Cheerleaders Die, in which zombie cheerleaders eat their classmates (available today on-demand), and of course all those real life NFL cheerleaders in revolt. From the bank-robbing cheer captain in Sugar & Spice, to the sex-crazed satanists of Satan's Cheerleaders, to the lethal assassins of Ninja Cheerleaders, these ladies prove there is more to that uniform than double Russians and 50-yard-line hookups. We combed through the highlights to make you a must-watch guide to the genre. Go team!
Debbie Does Dallas, 1978
Subversion of Stereotype: Cheerleaders are not just secret sluts! They are pornographic, lucrative sluts! Plot: DDD is a classic porno, so “plot” is a loose term. Debbie, a high-school cheerleader who wants to go to the city to try out for the big leagues, must turn to boning when her parents won’t give her the money to achieve her dreams.
The Cheerleaders, 1973
Subversion of Stereotype: Cheerleaders and football players have big orgies, but they are for school spirit! Plot: A dedicated squad really wants their home team to win the big game. Instead of just cheering extra loud, they decide to bang the opposing team into exhaustion.
Fired Up!, 2009
Subversion of Stereotype: Male cheerleaders seem like they are just in it for a hookup, but what they really love are the fun dance routines. Plot: Two football players, Nick and Shawn, abandon football camp for cheerleading camp to get super-laid by hot chicks. Instead, they get super-laid by a love of the sport.
Bring It On, 2000
Subversion of Sterotype: Cheerleading camp is for the cool kids. Cheerleading camp is just like theater camp except “jazz hands” are called “spirit fingers.” Plot: Do you need a summary of this cult favorite, or are you already launching into "brrr, it's cold in here"?
But I'm a Cheerleader, 1999
Subversion of Stereotype: Cheerleaders don't just dabble in sapphic activities; they are actually secret lesbians. Plot: This John Waters-esque satire checks both the romcom and coming-of-age teen flick boxes while skewering all heteronormative stereotypes. Natasha Lyonne is a popular cheerleader who loves Melissa Etheridge but hates kissing her boyfriend, so her family sends her to a conversion camp (led by not-in-drag RuPaul. RuPaul, not in drag!). Spoiler alert: It doesn’t work.
Sugar & Spice, 2001
Subversion of Stereotype: Cheerleaders get away with everything ... including felony. Plot: When their cheer captain gets pregnant, the squad decides to rob a bank to make sure she can afford Pampers. This is another weird and underrated satire.
Satan's Cheerleaders, 1977
Subversion of Stereotypes: The head cheerleader is evil. So evil she is actually the devil incarnate. Plot: A small town is sick of their unruly cheerleaders, so the school janitor teaches them a lesson by marking them as potential virgin sacrifices in a satanic ritual, because it’s a town full of satanists! But can they find an “unsullied maiden" among this group of cheerleaders? Spoiler alert: no.
Jennifer's Body, 2009
Subversion of Stereotype: Cheerleaders are so slutty and evil they turn into flesh-eating succubae. Plot: Megan Fox plays a bitchy cheerleader who is killed in a ritual virgin sacrifice that goes wrong (she’s a cheerleader, so, not a virgin). Instead, she comes back to life as a demon who must feed on the flesh of high-school boys to maintain her beauty — and because they kind of suck. Bonus: a cameo by Adam Brody in a ton of eyeliner.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 1992
Subversion of Stereotype: Cheerleaders have superhuman athletic abilities … that are best used to fight vampires Plot: A Valley Girl cheerleader is actually the chosen one, destined to destroy vampires. That’s why she gets cramps, you see: Her uterus is a vampire-detection system.
Ninja Cheerleaders, 2008
Subversion of Stereotype: Cheerleaders have superhuman athletic abilities … that are best used to fight ninja assassins. Plot: These cheerleaders are busy with cheer practice, after-school jobs as go-go dancers, and the rigorous curriculum at Brown University, but somehow they still find time to perfect their martial-arts skills. Since they are also ninjas who have to save their sensei from the Mafia.
All Cheerleaders Die, 2014
Subversion of Stereotype: Jocks are huge assholes, which is why cheerleaders should eat them alive. Plot: In this latest entry into the canon of subversive cheerleaders, a "girls rule, boys drool" competition goes demonically awry. In a “friendly” scrimmage between cheerleaders and their football team, someone gets brutally beaten, a car goes over a cliff, and a bunch of bitchy pom-pom shakers are left for dead. Or are they. The cheerleaders come back to half-life, deliver biting one-liners, and eat all of the high-school boys for lunch. Think Return of the Dead meets Bring It On.
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