The Pom Pom Girls & The Van

 

  

   Okay you horn-dog perverts; I’ve been looking at the Stats from the blog and I see that the most-viewed review was for Cheerleaders Beach Party and CB Hustlers, so that tells me one thing- that you guys dig the boobies (*TSK TSK*). Well, as the cordial host that I would like to think that I am, I’m going to go ahead and (as the President says in Death Race 2000) give the people what you want- in this case two T & A flicks from the 70’s…

 

   The late 70-‘s/ early 80’s drive-in scene was in the tail-end of it’s heyday; it was a place that you could bring a carload of friends to a movie for 5 bucks (and, since I was driving a 1972 Cadillac Fleetwood at the time we ended up taking my car because it had enough room for a baseball team, their dates, and a case or two of beer) and have a great night’s entertainment. I know in my case we’d show up and hour or so before the first feature so we could get the best spot established- namely dead-center and a few rows back, so there would be plenty of Frisbee and football-throwing room and we’d be close enough to the Snack Bar when the inevitable munchies would hit. The drive-in where I grew up in nearby Casselberry usually tied the features to a common theme (three horror flicks, or sex comedies, or what have you), with the main feature being of newer vintage while the co-features would be making the rounds again (sometimes for the 10th or 12th time- I must have seen Horror High four or five times in as many different pairings), but if we were going to go in a larger group, the T & A flicks were the ones that were our favorites to see…

 

   Both of these movies I caught as tacked-on second features at the drive-in growing up; in fact I couldn’t tell you what the main feature was that was paired with wither of these, but both of these I sure remembered and was looking forward to seeing them again. The first one on the disc is The Pom Pom Girls; a classic example of the mid seventies cheerleader flick that I talked about in the Cheerleaders Beach Party review with one difference; everything Beach Party did wrong Pom Pom gets right…

 

   Actually it’s pretty much the same story- what can the girls do to get the football players up for the big game? What player is going to pair up with what cheerleader? And who is going to win this vicious prank war between two rival schools? The difference is it’s made with more true-to-life actors as the kids who ACT and TALK like High-Schoolers of the time. They’ve also including a more appealing bunch, including Robert Carradine (who also appeared in Massacre at Central High a few months later with his co-star here Rainbeaux Smith) as the arrogant and bravado lead- of course you know he went on to other drive-in flicks like Cannonball! and Joyride (as well as previously having a small part in Revenge of the Cheerleaders (also featuring Rainbeaux) before moving on to bigger movies like Orca; TAG- The Assasination Game and Wavelength and the jackpot that was Revenge of the Nerds (and the 3 so- far sequels). A brunette foil is played by Jennifer Ashley, who was usually playing toughs but who had a sexy streak bubbling up to the surface. She was previously seen quickly as a groupie in the failed but very entertaining Phantom of the Paradise (and again another common thread-  Rainbeaux is in THAT ONE!), before going on to more serious and more exploitatively tacky fodder like Tintorera! (a bloody AWFUL Mexican Jaws rip-off); Guyana- Cult Of The Damned (you’ll need to bathe in Lysol after watching THAT one) and two notorious sleaze-fests that have a devoted cult-like crowd– Inseminoid and Limda Blair’s Chained Heat. And I’d like to put in a quick mention about Rainbeaux (Cheryl) Smith, who was in tons of these kinds of movies, and who died of hepatits (suspected from her years of heroin use) at a far-too-young age of 47; penniless and living on the streets. Her waif-like appearance and her eager acting style (she carried a hippie-like heir about her) was in more kinds of exploitation product than just about any actress you could name, from horror (Lemora- The Lady Dracula; The Incredible Melting Man); Sci-Fi (Laserblast) and musicals (the above-mentioned Phantom of the Paradise– blink and you’ll miss her), to sleazy blaxploitation (Drum); Women’s Prision movies (Caged Heat– one of the best of the genre)  silly sex comedies (Slumber Party ’57) and even X-Rated flicks (like Cinderella (1977) and Video Vixens). She was always a welcomed sight and it’s a shame that she will not be around when appreciation for her will continue to grow…

 

   Pom Pom was filmed in coastal California in the Los Angeles area; competently shot by Steven Katz, who went to bigger things like The Blues Brothers and who continues to work today. The Director (Joseph Rubin) also ended up moving on to more legitimate films, like the Dennis Quaid vehicle Dreamscape & The Forgotten. The print is very clean for a low-budget drive-in oddity; apparently Crown takes very good care of their archived masters- and it appears to be the full 90 minute version…

 

   The second flick here is The Van, a slice of the custom van-culture craze that hit its stride when this was released in 1977. It’s about Bobby (Stuart Goetz– who is now a Music Editor for television shows), a red-headed dork who decides that getting the girl of his dreams is more important than going to college so he spends his cash on a tricked-out van (with such “with-it” accessories like tuck-and roll liner; a waterbed with a mirrored ceiling, an 8-Track player and even drink holders!). It doesn’t really change his luck (a dork with a shiny paint job is still a dork), but when he gets hung up on one particular girl (Deborah White) he decides that maybe his trying to be slick isn’t the way. On the way to his life lesson though he ends up: playing dumb tricks on his car wash co-workers (putting castor oil in their beer then locking the bathroom); hooking up with an aggressive homely diner girl for a quicky (as well as a MILF with a jealous husband); gets involved in a police chase, and, once he finally gets the girl and needs to help his boss repay a loan, decides that the hunk of metal just ain’t worth it (well, that is, after flipping it in a drag race)…

 

   This one wasn’t as good as I remembered, but wasn’t too bad. The acting was uniformly decent and it was filmed competently, but the script was a bit weak with not all that much really happening. The main cast bounced around to other things but, except for Danny DeVito in an early part, didn’t go on to much more movie-wise. Some of the co-stars like Bill Adler (who is also in Pom Pom Girls) went on to other things besides acting (he now designs leather goods for major companies) and the very cute Marcie Barkin (who played a real bitch in one of my all-time favorite movies- Fade To Black, but I still dug her) is now the President of a successful software development company in Colorado, which is great to see. Behind the camera, the Director (Sam Grossman) went on to make only one more movie (Static) which was completed just after his death in 1999 from cancer, and Irv Goodnoff, the Cinematographer, is still working in movies. The thing that you’re going to remember most about this movie though is the theme song- “Chevy Van” by Sammy Johns; a staple on Top 40 radio when I was growing up, and a song that, no matter how hard you try, WILL NOT GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD. No matter how hard you try, I guarantee that sometime today, you will catch yourself whistling a line or two- I always end up getting hung up on this part:

   “I put her out in a town that was so small- You could throw a rock from end to end- A dirt road Main Street; she walked off in bare feet- It’s a shame I won’t be passin’ thru again”…

 

    (Click below to hear the song)

 

   “Chevy Van” by Sammy Johns

     Both movies appear in the “Starlight Drive-In Theater” 4 disc boxed set. Each movie is on a separate disc side and are cased as double-features (the other discs in the box are Hustler Squad & The Wild Riders; Van Nuys Blvd. and Little Laura and Big John, and Madman of Mandoras and The Devil’s Hand (which, technically, makes this disc a Triple Feature as the reworked version of Madman (They Saved Hitler’s Brain– a perennial “Golden Turkey” award winner) is also included on this disc). The company that produced all of these movies during their initial run, Crown International, was a major supplier of these kind of drive-in movies of the 60’s and seventies, and have recently come out of hiding to supply budget DVD lines of produce (the box set is BCI/ Brentwood, who use to put out dollar discs and now have gone semi-legitimate). If you don’t like the other movies in this set, don’t worry- they’ve included both Pom Pom and The Van in ANOTHER boxed set called “School Dazed” (*groan*) that has some more recent Crown International fare, including Tomboy; Hunk; Weekend Pass; Jocks; My Chauffer and My Tutor (the last one is the only one of these worth a damn). Extras on any of the discs, except for the “you are there” perspective DVD are about 6 minutes of trailers (from other movies in the boxed set) and snack-bar clips. If you look hard enough (hint- try certain Best Buys) you can find each boxed set at around nine bucks, giving you 8 flicks to take home for the cost of one movie ticket now- and that doesn’t even include Rainbeaux in the mix. Both are rater “R” for nudity, language and drug and alcohol use…

   The Pom Pom Girls– 3* out of 5

   The Van– 2-1/2* out of 5

 

 

   

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