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(aka "The Great American Girl Robbery" or "Bus 17 Is Missing" or "Cheerleader's Naughty Weekend ")

 

directed by Jeff Werner
USA 1979

 

Cheerleaders from three California schools are packed onto a bus with strict (read lesbian) coach Frankie (Courtney Sands) to head up to Sacramento for the state finals. After competing in a flashing contest to make a farmer drive off the road, the bus is stopped by a road block. This is actually a ploy to get the driver off the bus so disgraced jocks Wayne (co-writer/associate producer Jason Williams, FLESH GORDON) and George (Anthony Lewis) who kidnap the girls and hold them for ransom with the help of turncoat Frankie, dimwitted Big John (John Albert), and sensitive Billy (Robert Houston, THE HILLS HAVE EYES). The state is not willing to pay the 2 million dollars but (in a hilarious scene) a representative Franklin Franklin (Andrew J. Kuehn, whose company Kaleidoscope Pictures was one of the leading trailer cutters) says the government is introducing legislation to allow the parents of the missing girls to borrow their share of the ransom at a low interest rate (provided they meet the registration requirements). After several unsuccessful escape attempts the girls realize that they must stop fighting each other (given the socio-economic and racial divides of the three schools; the commentators only somewhat jokingly refer to the cat-fighting as "class warfare") and work together using their bodies and their brains. Meanwhile, Wayne and Billy collect the ransom in an intricate and funny sequence that deserves a film all to itself. The question as to why this film had three releases on the grindhouse circuit and has been lavished with special features for this DVD release is answered by just how enjoyable this film is thanks to game actors, nudity, humor, and a more-ambitious-than-usual plot. Both the cheerleaders' method of turning the tables on their captors and the kidnappers collection of the ransom are stand-out sequences (chased by the cops on foot and by car, Wayne dodges them like a football player with the money bag as the game ball and the cheerleaders come up with an original escape-by-panty solution). The radical shifts in tone never put the viewer off. There is also an "A Chorus Line" striptease beauty pageant scene which seems odd given that they are being held captive but it does emphasize the competitive nature of the girls but there is also a would-be rape scene (filmed but cut as a too-extreme tone shift) and one of the cheerleaders wields a chainsaw against her pursuer like a reversal of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE in a well-shot day-for-night woodland chase. Several of the cast and crew went on to lucrative movie careers (Houston was nominated for and won several awards for his documentaries including an Oscar, producer Chuck Russell has gone on to be a director, sound editor Stephen Flick is an award-winning sound designer, and A.D. Tom Jacobson is a successful producer).

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: September 1979 (USA)

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DVD Review: Scorpion Releasing - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Scorpion Releasing

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:26:03
Video

1.76:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.84 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono)
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Scorpion Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.76:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary with director Jeff Werner, editor Greg McClatchy, and star Marilyn Joi
• Audio Commentary with star Kristine DeBell
• Interview with star Kristine DeBell (4:3; 10:51)
• Interview with co-star Leon Issac Kennedy (4:3; 27:18)
• Interview with co-star Marilyn Joi (4:3; 14:36)
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 2:17)
• Alternate Title Card (4:3; 3:49)
• Still Gallery

DVD Release Date: November 24, 2009
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

Comments

The film print bears the original title "THE GREAT AMERICAN GIRL ROBBERY" rather than the more popular Dimension Pictures (not the Weinstein company) release title. The ROBBERY title is far more accurate (even the WEEKEND trailer is blatantly misleading about the plot of the film). The anamorphic widescreen transfer improves as the presentation goes on except for some damage around reel changes (in addition to the change marks) while the audio is clear and strong.

The film is accompanied by two audio commentaries. The first features director Jeff Werner, editor Greg McClatchy, and actress Marilyn Joi and is an entertaining and humorous commentary (Jason Williams provides some brief comments but is the audio level on his mic is low). While Joi in the first commentary looks back on her work fondly without embarrassment (as she does in the accompanying interview), actress Kristine DeBell in the second track cannot recall much of the production (we learn more about the film from the moderators than her) but she does somewhat loosen up to the naughtiness as the film progresses. In her accompanying interview, DeBell talks about her other work (supported by posters and title cards) and does not speak about the film at all (despite the use of presence of contextual clips during the interview as if she was speaking about it). Besides the film, Joi also mentions her work with Al Adamson (MEAN MOTHER, NURSE SHERRI) and Don Edmonds (ILSA) in her interview. Co-star Leon Issac Kennedy (who was a DJ in real life as well) also provides an interview.

The "Alternate Title Card" bearing the CHEERLEADERS WILD WEEKEND title is actually the entire opening credits sequence with the replacement card presented unmatted and is obviously sourced from videotape. The Dimension Pictures CHEERLEADERS WILD WEEKEND trailer rounds out the extras.

 - Eric Cotenas

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Scorpion Releasing

Region 0 - NTSC

 

 




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