The Majorettes (1987) Review by RevTerry

In horror, it only takes one role to make you an immortal. This seems to be one of those better or worse type things. But since I have yet to release my debut slasher (Blood Soaked Sermon: The RevTerry Murders), I don't have much in the way of insight to the pitfalls of being a cult celebrity. I do know that it can be a more fitting role in life for some people. I don't know the logic behind it, but for whatever reason, we viewers can take a liking to some random fucking characters, and when the people that play those characters happen to be fans themselves, the results can be some special shit. Some cult favorites are just born for it. I’m sure it’s the same for the more mainstream type celebrities, but the fan favorites stick around longer and live a lot closer to the viewer's reality when it comes to those involved with horror. It doesn't even have to make sense really, it's just something that happens. You don't have to be in the best Friday the 13th to be the everyone's favorite Jason. Shit, you don't even have to be the main character at all.  You could just be the first walking dead guy to limp up in an opening graveyard scene. Sure, it helps if you have a memorable undead snarl, and if the scene is in a film that happens to be considered the spark that ignited an everlasting lust for zombies in cinema. Bill Hinzman will forever be most known as being the first ghoul to make Barbara scream in Night of the Living Dead (1968), and seemed to have no issue embracing the horror-love the role brought him over the years. He was a regular at conventions from an early point, sometimes coming decked out in full zombie get-up and continued to work in the industry, horror specifically, pretty much up until his tragic death in 2012. He appeared to have immense love for the genre, and it manifested itself in the form of two very derivative horror films, of which Hinzman served as director(among other things). In 1988 he made Flesheater, a direct homage to the original NOTLD, in which Hinzman plays a much more flushed out version of his zombie character on his own (unofficial) spin-off adventure. A little before that, both he and a fellow original dead alumnus stepped outside of the whole walking-corpse thing altogether to make a trashy slasher flick called The Majorettes (1987).    
After a slightly lost intro animation, we meet a troop of majorettes in the middle of a spandex dance demonstration in a school gym. When they are done showing off their skills, they convene in the locker room for the regular girl talk as the creepy janitor watches and takes pictures from a vent. Everyone then gets showered and/or changed, and we, the viewers, leave the group of girls altogether to watch some random bitter person be mean to a mute old lady without explanation as she wheels around her wheelchair. After that's over, we visit with one of the girls while she is out on a date with a local boy. Things seem to be going well for the both of them, but as it gets physical, the girl breaks down and reveals her true intentions for the night-- which involve tricking the boy into believing he was an unborn child's father. Everyone gets sad for a second, but that doesn't really come up again, because both of them are murdered shortly after by a man in a camouflage ninja outfit (no it's not Richard Harrison), who literally busts through the top of their car and starts cutting necks. When they are both nice and dead, the killer takes the female's corpse to a body of water and starts dunking her head in it gently. A jagged back and forth cut in editing takes us to a priest baptizing a child in a river, as a crowd of people watches. The local sheriff (Mark V. Jevicky) is in attendance, and it is then that he is informed of the murders. The county detective (Carl Hetrick) is also called in, and the two engage in some grumpy back and forth when they arrive at the crime scene. Everyone at the high school is shaken up by the recent gruesome deaths, but they all try to get back to their routine of either being a teenager or being really creepy around teenagers. Of course, the killer follows up his murders, so with little to go on, the cops have to start looking at the local shadesters as suspects. Unfortunately, there is a shit load of those in this town. Normal wooden slasher shenanigans follow, except at some point there is a long veer into action revenge, as one of the characters (Kevin Kindlin) pulls a half-assed Charles Bronson and lays explosive siege to the hideout of a drug dealing/bigoted/satanic biker gang (with no real effect on the slasher plot whatsoever).
 The effort is noteworthy enough for being the zombie-less brain baby of both writer John A. Russo and director S. William Hinzman (AKA Bill Hinzman). Both had a hand in the original Night of the Living Dead, Hinzman as stated above, and Russo co-authoring the script (there is a longer discussion in there somewhere, but it will have to wait for another time). Russo authored the script for The Majorettes, adapting it from his novel of the same name and served as producer. The film was made and released two years after his own “dead” universe kicked off, with Return Of the Living Dead (1985) and five years after his own (bizarre) directorial venture into the slasher genre, Midnight (1982), both films also loosely based on his own original novels. Bill Hinzman would return to the world of the living dead as well, the year after The Majorettes with Flesheater (1988), which he wrote, directed and starred in. He would only direct the two films, both sharing much of the same (relatively unknown) cast and crew.
Even before the uncalled-for biker exterminating Rambo segment, the movie’s story contains out of place pockets of unrelated drama, between people like the pervy (and likely slow) school janitor, the gang of flamboyant bikers or the investigating team of cops, that walked straight out of a Showtime erotic thriller. The tacked on plot points come and go as they please, while the camouflage laden killer doles out violence around them. Someday, I hope to read John A. Russo’s original novel, but I'm afraid to find out that it's not just a random mess of storylines like this movie. For most of the main plot, the drama is played out as a straight deadpan slasher. You have your (not so) teenage girls in high school, getting picked off one by one, a masked killer, and creepy male adult figures in abundance.  Like Hinzman’s Flesheater, it leans hard into its influences. If it was made today or had taken it a step further, it would have risked becoming a full-blown parody, even without a wink at the camera. It’s not the best entry in the High School Slasher collection or really anything new, outside of focusing on baton twirlers (that's what majorette means in case you didn't know, I did, and definitely didn't watch this movie 4 times without looking it up/making the connection) versus using the normal go to victims- the cheerleader. It's trashy enough to be good generic slasher fare, with more bad guys who hang around high schoolers than normal and a slight case of ADD. This low rent massacre makes up the bulk of the film, that is until inexplicably one of the loosely connected dead-end side plots takes over, it switches focus and goes into full-on Death Wish 4 mode. It's a complete change in tone and is just kind of shoved into the already patchwork structure of the film’s story. It's wonderfully random and lots of stuff explodes, just in case you were getting sick of locker room scenes and stabbings. There is no real character development and, story-wise, no reason to care about the people being dispatched, but it's all silly enough to be a great match for the rest of the film's aspects and makes for good trashy entertainment.
The editing doesn't do the already thin cohesiveness of the story any favors, as it helps little in the task of blending the random jumps in and out of the straightforward slasher fare. It completely loses it shit on some of the kills, mixing reverb into the sound and jumping back and forth in time. The rest of the soundtrack is incredibly fitting, using some kind of lively Casio backbeat behind dramatic organs, that I swear I have heard before. It also has a few 80s trash pop tracks it throws in whenever it can.  On a technical level, Hinzman’s directorial style is almost nonexistent. For the most part, the camera just kind of hangs out in the same room as the characters, moving with the dialogue if absolutely necessary. At times, he channels the slower moments in Hooper's Invaders from Mars remake (1986), playing the almost 50s style high school dynamics with a completely straight face. There are a few flashes of creative inklings in between the cliche killer-vision style stalking and choppy attacks. I also get (very) faint hints of Fulci's The New York Ripper (1982), during the murderer’s build-ups, when the action on screen becomes almost surreal and the beat hits just right. Hinzman makes up for the missing flare in camera work by packing in ample amounts of fan service. As with a lot of the late 80s slashers, it can feel like it mostly missed the boat when it comes to its overused tropes. In this case however, instead of feeling completely stale, Hinzman’s love of the genre steers him towards worship. I get relatable visions of Hinzman cramming in as many of ( what I can only assume were) his favorite parts of the slasher sub-genre and one by one scratching them off a list. It comes along as something closer to the fake film-grain, overt homage flicks and neo-trash grindhouse parodies that we get today. As if it was already having nostalgic feels about the 80s slasher before the 80s even ended. It's a little light in its gore but features a few fun kill scenes, most, if not all, will remind you lovingly of another more recognizable horror flick made before it. In line with the near intentional slasher cliches, there are plenty of on-camera wardrobe changes, showers breaks and locker room meetings. The really disjointed segments, including the revenge explosion-filled raid and the Andy Sidaris-esque mustache cop's antics, feel like completely different productions altogether and share only the strange timing of the connecting slasher chunks of the film. Whether they were written to be red herrings or character development is lost in the final product, and they end up feeling like cut and paste pieces from another film, Godfrey Ho style. It sounds bad-- and it is, but the mess comes together with a unique trashy charm.
I can't argue Majorettes is a masterpiece or even a good movie, but that doesn't mean it doesn't do exactly what it came to do. If you are not worried about something making sense all the time or staying on track, there is a fun, sleazy flick in there, that's obviously made out of love. Even if it has no idea where the fuck it is or where it's going at any given moment, the film is nowhere near boring. Initially what looks like a by-the-books slasher clone turns into a anything goes free-for-all of b-movie tropes. It uses a bunch of well known elements to make something unpredictable. Above all, it feels like it was made by a fan of the genre,and that is always a good thing as far as I'm concerned. I can only assume Bill Hinzman was connoisseur of horror, as I never knew him personally, but it seems to shine through in his work. Either way, he leaves us a nice little piece of junk-food entertainment, along with his contributions to zombie flicks. I might have been happy just having the bragging rights that come with being the most OG of OG cinema dead walkers, but then again I tell people at parties about my movie collection, so my bar is really low there.
1h 32min | 1987
 Director: S. William Hinzman (as Bill Hinzman)
Writer: John A. Russo

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