Did you think I forgot about every nostalgic 90s book nerd’s favorite horror book series?! Nope, not at all. We are back on track with The Cheerleaders.
The Cheerleaders series is really some of R.L. Stine’s finest work. Let’s take an iconic symbol of American youth and come up with a series of highly innovative ways to off them. That’s what the Cheerleaders series is, and that is why it’s the best kind of kitsch. And it also gives me the excuse to make numerous references to the two best cheerleader movies of all time: But, I’m a Cheerleader and Bring It On (technically made in 2000, but this is a cheerocracy so I’m including it).
Thus, we begin with Cheerleaders: The First Evil.
When the cheers turn to screams…
The Bobbsey twins, Corky and Bobbi Corcoran, come to Sunnydale Shadyside and are eager to join the cheerleading squad, but when they do, terrible things start to happen. Terrible things that involve ghosts, possession, and scalding showers!
Bill Schmidt is off cover duties for this series which saddens me, but I must say this cover by Edwin Herder is pretty rad.
I mean check this shit out. There’s pom-poms of death (fun fact: The 1988 horror movie Cheerleader Camp is also known as Bloody Pom Poms) and possessed cheerleaders! What’s not to love?! True fact: I was a cheerleader in elementary school, and the pom-poms were the best part. I’m talking the enormous, poofy ones! The little, scraggly ones they have nowadays? Fughetaboutit. My cat pissed on them though. Story of my life.
Corky and Bobbi Corcoran, who are destined to be cheerleaders based on their names alone, have just moved with their family to Fear Street. The almost-twin sisters like to play pranks, which results in numerous fake-outs – Stiney looooves the fake-outs.
Stine would also like you to know how blonde and “vibrant” they are because it’s always more fun when pretty girls die. He also spends some time explaining how their father is “handsome” and “young-looking,” while their mother is “a pale reflection of her vibrant, blonde daughters.” Damn, Stine, that’s pretty harsh. Couldn’t you have just said something like the “bloom’s off her rose” or “she’s no spring chicken”? We are so much better at insulting people in the South.
Corky and Bobbi were all-state cheerleaders back at their old school. They can do a double cartwheel. Sooo, I’m guessing cheerleaders in 1992 weren’t doing this?:
Because the Corcoran sisters are super special with their double walkovers and spread eagles and pony mounts (lolololol – that is some basic shit), the Shadyside squad lets them audition even though auditions were the previous spring. The team is super impressed so they boot the lone freshman member, Ronnie, off the squad. Ronnie has red hair, so she is clearly going to be our first suspect because #horrorlogic.
(The Shadyside cheerleaders at least have a fire baton routine so I am a little willing to forgive their mediocre cheer stunts because all that fire and hairspray? Totally dangerous.)
On the way to an away game, the cheerleaders’ bus crashes in the Fear Street cemetery and Jennifer, the captain, is thrown out. Because physics and gravity don’t matter in horror, Jennifer winds up landing on top of Sarah Fear’s grave. This can only mean one thing – POSSESSED CHEERLEADERS! I am as excited as Buffy Summers under the spell of an old cheerleader/witch trying to recapture her youth!
Everyone thinks Jennifer’s dead, but she is apparently just “knocked unconscious” – AKA possessed by the demonic spirit of Sarah Fear. Anyway, Jennifer ends up paralyzed so the assistant captain Kimmy takes over. Kimmy’s reign is short-lived, though, because the cheerleading coach promotes Bobbi to captain.
And then, Chip Chasner (I love these names so much), the dreamy quarterback and Kimmy’s ex, starts hitting on Bobbi. But, it’s not all Lisa Frank kittens and rainbows for the blonde and vibrant Bobbi. The team is totally resistant to her leading because of Kimmy and now Chip. So this clearly isn’t a cheerocracy.
And shit just starts to go downhill from there. Bobbi is walking the halls one day after practice and all the lockers start banging open and shut while there’s a girl screaming. During a game, Chip freezes and gets knocked unconscious. Later, Bobbi tries to comfort him which makes Chip really randy so they make-out with “hard and dry” kissing. I picture this whenever Stine describes teenagers making out:
Bobbi wants to break the kiss, but you know Chip is all needy, and there is nothing that sets the Shadyside ladies’ loins on fire like a needy guy. Where’s a hottie like Graham when you need her?!
She’ll show ‘em how it’s really done.
Kimmy starts a fight with Bobbi over Chip, but they are forced to kiss and makeup (okay, there’s no kissing…unfortunately) so they can do a cheer stunt. Bobbi is supposed to catch Kimmy as she does a pike off Corky’s shoulder, but like Chip, Bobbi freezes, and Kimmy eats the floor. Kimmy ends up with a broken wrist.
Later that evening, Bobbi visits Jennifer who is the only cheerleader who has been remotely nice to her. But then Bobbi spies Jennifer walking and is like “Dafuq?!” Bobbi tries to tell Corky, but Corky won’t believe her. That’s never a good sign.
The next day during practice, the remaining cheerleaders mutiny, and the coach has to kick Bobbi off the team. This leads to one of the best death scenes in all of Fear Street history!
A depressed Bobbi hits the showers. Once she enters, the doors clang shut behind her and scalding hot water begins to fill the room. She tries to turn the shower heads off, but…
Body count 1.
Up until this point, the perspective was limited to Bobbi’s, but the second half shifts to Corky because well, Bobbi is dead via very hot shower.
Corky is the one to find Bobbi’s body. She also happens to find Kimmy’s megaphone pendant at the scene of the crime. She confronts Kimmy about the pendant, but turns out Kimmy gave it to Jennifer. So Bobbi was right, and Corky didn’t believe her. Way to go, Corky.
Corky runs to Jennifer’s house only to find Jennifer leaving it in her car…driving. Corky follows her to the Fear Street cemetery where Jennifer gets out and does a little dance on Sarah Fear’s grave. Something like this maybe?
Corky intercepts and all is revealed in classic horror fiction fashion. Jennifer is possessed by the spirit of Sarah Fear who apparently thinks Jennifer needs to be avenged for being pretty and popular? Whatever, who cares about motivations? Jennifer/Sarah Fear creates a super scary dirt tornado and pushes Corky into the open grave where Sarah Fear’s open coffin sits. But Corky’s super rad cheerleading skills save her because #horrorphysics. So Corky springs out of the grave because extracurriculars can save you. They battle. Sarah Fear tries to cheat by using her really bad, dead breath, but Corky wins and wrestles/squeezes the spirit out of Jennifer and back into the grave. Convenient. Then, Jennifer’s body becomes a corpse and the shadyside police actually show up for once.
Later that evening, Corky goes to bed only to discover the megaphone pendant on her pillow! More to come in Cheerleaders: The Second Evil.
Moral of the Story:
Shadyside needs more queer folk.
Cheerleaders, possession, death by shower (not really a trope, but should be), twist ending
Walkman, Gap, totally dated cheerleading stunts
This book is so fun it’s beyond trolls, so I am giving it the following because I needed an excuse to incorporate this video: