1987's The Majorettes is not for everyone. Most modern moviegoers will recoil at the bargain bin acting, gratuitous nudity, badly choreographed action, and overall mess of a plot. For the more adventurous among us, however, there's something at its core that can't be replicated in today's cinematic climate; the pure, unbridled camp of a lost era
The Majorettes begins with a simple slasher setup. The town's cheerleaders are being murdered one by one at the hands of a masked killer wearing army fatigues. There are suspects galore, including a creepy peeping Tom the film so obviously points at early on we know it can't possibly be him. These early scenes give you a taste of exactly what this movie's about. They feature gloriously teased hair, gratuitous shower scenes with 20 something actresses playing teenagers, and cheap makeup effects that can't be hidden despite some aggressive editing.
Here, you could argue, is where the magic in this film is. When looked at through a modern lens, you'd swear the first act was actually a fake trailer from 2009's Grindhouse. The image quality of the available video is so grimy you can almost picture someone scraping it off the floor of a Los Angeles warehouse to prep it for the DVD transfer. The attempts at editing around the effects are so sloppy it almost becomes an artform, and scene transitions are so hastily done each one features the distinctly audible "click" that happens when audio isn't properly crossfaded.
If The Majorettes had just stopped there, and done the things audiences expected at the time, it might be remembered as a serviceable, if very low rent, late 80's slasher. Instead, it becomes something so convoluted and insane it's almost impossible to describe. An intensely elaborate inheritance plotline, inserted to add more intrigue as to the identity of the killer, suddenly becomes the only thing this film cares about. That is until a roving gang of thugs shows up, all hilariously dressed like Village People, and abducts our (presumptive) female lead. Before they can take things where no one wants them to, the film's peeping Tom ambles his way onto the scene. You see, he's actually not the killer, but he is very much involved with this mostly unrelated inheritance plotline that will be foiled if the gang kills the girl they've abducted. Whether or not the source material from Night of the Living Dead screenwriter, John A. Russo, can be blamed for these narrative shenanigans is a decision best left to those brave enough to read it.
What follows is a sequence of hilariously inept shootout scenes, capped by one of the saddest cinematic explosions ever put to film. If you're trying to picture this action, think 1988's Troma's War, or anything from Andy Sidaris's ouvre of legendarily campy 80's action films including bad squibs, bad acting, and absolutely awful editing. Even though this entire sequence pretty much pours kerosene on the plot and torches it into oblivion, it's hard not to marvel at how gloriously campy the whole affair is.
1987's The Majorettes is, in most ways, exactly what you think it is. It features all the lurid slasher tropes that have been examined for decades in the hopes of finding deeper meaning from the low pleasures the subgenre has to offer. It even brings some pointed psychosexual analysis to the table 5 years before the publication of Men, Women and Chainsaws changed the way we talk about slashers forever. Had it stuck to these simple, time tested temptations, it might be looked back on fondly as a campy, low budget gem. Instead its ambitions outpace its budget (and available talent pool), causing it to fall flat on its face. Still, in many ways it's a train wreck the likes of which just isn't possible in the intensely self aware society we live in today. To some, that may just make it a gem worth saving.