Director: Ted V. Mikels
Screenplay: Jack Richesin, Pam Eddy & Ted V. Mikels
Starring: Francine York, Sherri Vernon, Tura Satana, Jean London, Carol Terry
Running Time: 91 mins
BBFC Classification: 15
A rival to Russ Meyer’s B-movie schlock during the late sixties and seventies, Ted V. Mikels produced and directed several low budget grindhouse B–features in his own relatively inept, but entertaining, manner and The Doll Squad was one of the better ones, although that’s not really saying much when you’re comparing it to the likes of cinematic gems such as The Corpse Grinders and The Astro-Zombies!
The Doll Squad is the kind of film that you really need to watch with some like-minded friends and some beers within easy reach, as it can be alternatively patience testing or great fun, depending on where you are in relation to its ridiculous plot. Considering that The Doll Squad has three writers one would think the plot would have been delivered a bit more coherently or that the story would have made a bit more sense, but no, this is Ted’s crazy world and logic doesn’t really figure in it for long.
Basically a crazy dude, played both dreadfully and brilliantly (depending on the scene) by Michael Ansara is looking to make a ton of money off the world’s misery when he releases the Bubonic plague onto every continent by utilising a network of nefarious characters who are willing to return to their respective countries with some plague in spray cannisters, which they will then infect the local rat population with. So far so good, but I couldn’t really understand how he’d make lots of money out of this ‘cunning plan’ when half the population would be dead and everyone else would have better things to do – like surviving – when the plague has really taken hold, let alone paying out money to this crazy moustachioed man! But hey, this is a nutty grindhouse flick so who am I to question the many plot holes that reveal themselves along the way.
Ultimately it falls to a clued up senator to go to The Doll Squad to clear up the mess and try and save the world from a bad case of running sores, nasty coughs, pustules and excessive bleeding from various orifices. After a somewhat shaky start with two of their number getting their heads blown off before they’ve even had their first proper debrief meeting, the squad finally get it together to set off on a private yacht to the island where ‘Mr Nutter’ hangs out with his army of badly dressed goons. Sadly it takes a while to get to this point, but the final assault is almost worth the wait.
Yes, there’s lots of dreadful dialogue, poor acting and plot holes you could drive a transit van through, but The Doll Squad can be a lot of fun when it hits its marks with some groovy music, a gaggle of hot chicks kicking arse, hilarious 70s fashions and some of the worst special effects ever to grace a silver screen. Check out those badly painted on explosions and tomato ketchup bullet hits! Mikels also makes good use of some arresting locations and, on the whole, the film isn’t badly shot, although Ted’s editing leaves a lot to be desired at times.
The Doll Squad comes across a bit like a low-tech version of Charlie’s Angels, with its big-haired heroines, nonsensical plot devices and gratuitous bikini shots. And what were they thinking with their final secret assault uniforms – they are mainly black, but they also have white belts and white heeled shoes – hardly subtle!
I got the feeling it was great fun to make – a fact borne out by the making-of – it’s just a shame it’s not as much fun to watch! However, if you enjoy trashy grindhouse films, where continuity doesn’t matter (one moment it’s day, the next it’s night and then back again to day), women with big hair wield even bigger guns and guards are persuaded to drink spiked drinks that cause them to EXPLODE, then you’ll still have a blast with this film.
The Doll Squad has recently been released on DVD and is being distributed by 88 Films who are, to their credit, currently releasing lots of these more obscure B–movies, and long may it continue.
The extras on the disc are a theatrical trailer for the film, in amongst the usual 88 Films trailer park, which includes trailers for films such as Two Moon Junction, Blood Orgy of the She Devils, Dollman and Robot Wars; an eight minute behind-the-scenes featurette during which actress Tura Satana reminisces about her experiences shooting the film (mainly good – everyone was nice to work with – but they all got seasick on the yacht and were bitten by fleas on the island of Catalina where it was shot); and an audio commentary, which wasn’t working on the review disc I was sent so I have no idea who was providing the commentary or how it plays out.
Reviewer: Justin Richards