When the world is threatened with mass destruction by a power-hungry supervillain, the CIA find that their only hope rests with The Doll Squad, a beautiful and highly-trained team of female agents. However, when the call goes out, squad leader Sabrina (Francine York) discovers that her two colleagues have been mysteriously murdered. The solution? Sabrina recruits some new talent - a dancer, a swimmer, a psychology expert and a librarian - get them kitted out in identical black jump suits, heads for the island headquarters of the criminal mastermind, and draws up plans to secure the safety of the free world.
Both director-entrepreneur Ted V Mikels and the packaging of The Doll Squad
claim that the TV show Charlie's Angels
was ripped off from this cheapo action film. In truth both concepts owe a lot to Emma Peel, Pussy Galore's Flying Circus or the femme armies that crop up in Our Man Flint
and other 60s spy efforts. Despite its (horrible) lounge score and eye-straining selection of flared, midriff-baring 70s outfits, Mikels' opus is basically a late-trailing Bond knock-off shot without a stunt budget. Extortionist baddie Eamon O'Reilly (the usually classier Michael Ansara) wants to blackmail the US into handing over secrets and giving into a load of terrorist demands by spreading a bubonic plague manufactured by twin (or clone) mad scientists. "Big Bertha", a computer, suggests that the best way to nail O'Reilly is to send out "the Doll Squad", a cadre of female agents led by Sabrina (Francine York), who can take advantage of his weakness for women (and occasional impotence). The first two choices, a Q-type scientist and a martial artist, are killed by O'Reilly's goons, though Sabrina sees off her would-be assassin with a cigarette lighter/flamethrower that scars his face (and only mildly perturbs the people in the next booth at the bar), so she rounds up a new gang of hairspray-addicted fashion victims: a librarian (Sherri Vernon), a stripper (Tura Satana) and a swimmer (Leigh Christian), later hauling in a squealy and useless undercover girl who is easily kidnapped by O'Reilly to lead them into a trap. We're supposed to believe most of the action takes place in a Dr No
-like island retreat but it looks a lot like scrubby California desert and the director's ranch-style "castle". Aside from some fab gear (matching jumpsuits with bust-accenting white lines) the girls have little to do but run around shooting inept stuntmen.
On the DVD: For a marginal title, The Doll Squad offers some pleasing extras: a lurid trailer that's probably a more fun watch than the film ("Sabrina's code-prefex is OO-38-24-35!"); a gallery of publicity materials and stills; an exhaustive Mikels filmography; and an odd 1993 interview with the director. The film itself looks as good as it ever will--it's muddily photographed with low-tech effects (the flamethrower flames are just scratched on the emulsion) but at least the colours are vivid and the print is in great condition. --Kim Newman