I’m just going to put this out there: I’ve been severely depressed lately. I believe the proper psychiatric jargon is “going through a funk.” There’s no reason to get into it so much, only suffice to say, there has been a lot of meeting the Postmates driver outside my apartment wearing only gym shorts and flip-flops.
But that was the old me. More specifically, the me before I watched the 1986 film, The Majorettes. Directed by S. William Hinzman, the movie is, quite simply, a medical marvel. A dopamine delivery vehicle like cocaine laser beams shooting out of the TV right into your eyeballs. One second I was thinking Dostoyevsky could lay off the sappiness a bit, and the next I was drawing in my notebook unicorns with rocket launchers blowing up old Greek tragedy masks.
Sis, Boom, Blood, You’re Dead!
The Majorettes is technically a slasher movie. A psycho killer in full hunting camo is picking off members of a high school majorettes team one by one. However, much of the joy that comes from this movie is that it doesn’t adhere to the typical structure of a slasher film. By the end of the second act, the film has gone so far off the rails, someone could walk in and assume you’re watching some cheap Rambo knockoff. For which then you tell that idiot to leave, because you’re watching a badass Rambo knockoff.
If the name S. William Hinzman is in any way familiar to horror fans, it’s because he plays the cemetery zombie in the beginning of George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. And in very much the same vein as Romero’s early films, this is a very low budget movie shot in the Pittsburgh suburbs. It’s also written by Night of the Living Dead scribe, John A. Russo, adapting it from his novel. Note to self: somehow acquire this novel.
This movie is insane. And sleazy as all hell. The opening credit sequence is five, pure minutes of watching the majorettes team dance in the school gym for the yearbook (I think?) photographer. It’s like an erotic model photo shoot, as each majorette gives a solo dance, and the yearbook nerd is on his knees, twisting the camera sideways, snapping pictures like some pervy dirtbag.
There’s a whole cast of wacky stock characters: a star quarterback who’s performance is suffering because the town “dope pusher” knocked up his friend on the majorettes team and who’s subsequently murdered. (This dope pusher probably has the best name ever for a villainous, low-level, suburban drug dealer: Mace Jackson). There’s an evil German nurse, Helga, who with her mentally challenged son and school janitor, is plotting to kill her elderly charge for the inheritance. There’s a “big time county” homicide detector called in to investigate by the religious nut local sheriff. In fact, the whole majorette angle is so ancillary to this movie’s plot as to be laughable. It more or less seems to be the exploitive hook to get you into the theater to watch 30-year-olds play high schoolers and take off their clothes.
That’s all I’m going to give away in terms of story. As mentioned above, there’s a gigantic shift in tone and genre in the middle of this movie, and you just have to see it to believe it. True, it’s not going to win any rewards in the acting and writing department, but I challenge you to find an Academy Award-nominated film from 1986 that is as deliriously entertaining as The Majorettes.
For instance, there’s a scene where Mace Jackson and his biker gang are tormenting the school janitor in the football stadium bleachers. When the gang shows up, the janitor is just sitting there with binoculars looking right at the majorettes team. Not to mention, Mace’s gang looks like each one was pulled separately out of West Side Story, Cruising, and Deliverance. One of the members is even wearing neo-confederate garb—is this supposed to be Pennsylvania? He also carries an old timey pistol from the Civil War, because it shoots musket balls, and thereby can’t be traced by the police. (I guess they wouldn’t look for the only guy in town with the gun that shoots musket balls.)
So yeah, it’s that type of movie. For those who love Blood Rage and Deadly Prey equally, this is a can’t miss.
#TheMajorettes #Romero #NightoftheLivingDead #JohnARusso #SWilliamHinzman #1986