The Doll Squad [DVD]
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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
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Top Customer Reviews
no real spoilers
Ok first up the picture looks like there are three dames in the squad when in fact there several more. some make it some don't. I don't know if this was the original promotional picture but it's certainly evocative of Charlie's angels. - MORE LATER.
the quality of the film is definitely a low budget one. however this is made up for by the commitment of most of the ladies in the squad. some of the male characters are either lazy actors bad actors or didn't really know what they were supposed to be portraying. Or maybe it was just the laid back 'style' of the decade.
Also helping the story along were many and various 'nods' (I never said rip-offs) to other big films of the time. 'nods' in terms of plot scenes plot devices and locations, style and feel. for me this is not a problem - it lends a well worn comfortable feel to it like its something you know. Don't expect any comic book super hero action or KILL BILL stuff (although attractive of their time women in jumpsuits kicking hell out every one - may be KB does owe this something).
The violence and action is definitely of the age. you will not see women beaten up like this in todays world, outside of an afterschool special/matinee starring any one of the plethora of 'leading' actresses who have milked the victim genre. It makes me mad the mixed messages we send out. On the one hand we portray women as victims and on the other at exactly the same time we portray them as feisty can do rocks. One teaches us to be afraid and the other teaches we can take care of ourselves. IF that goes wrong its straight over to the 'we're victims' mantra.Read more ›
A rocket just launched from cape Kennedy (cue the stock footage!) gets blowed up by Mr bad guy, who is threatening the world with bubonic plague! Who they gonna call? Some chicks in spandex? Cue the doll squad!
Then we slowly work are way through the film stock with some tame martial arts and sedate gunfights all hindered by a plot so slow I forgot what was happening on one occasion. This isn't a bad film but it does feel like a half an hour TV show has been crammed into a 100min runtime.
But if its a Kitschy 70's time killer yer after, you can do a lot worse.