Thursday, 23 October 2008

The Doll Squad (1973)

The Doll Squad is a fun and amusing piece of nonsense from legendary low-budget film-maker Ted V. Mikels. After a US spacecraft is sabotaged by a renegade intelligence agent, the authorities decide that a situation as serious as this can only be dealt with by - The Doll Squad! The Doll Squad being a team of elite female secret agents/commandos. The requirements for membership of this team - you have to be tough and deadly, and gorgeous!

The leader of The Doll Squad is Sabrina Kincaid (played by Francine York). She’s professional, intelligent, dangerous and very feminine. Even her lipstick is deadly. Her professionalism is put to the test when she discovers that the renegade agent is an ex-lover of hers. After several members of The Doll Squad are assassinated, the ream tracks down the bad guy to his island hideout/secret headquarters, where he is plotting to unleash a deadly plague upon the world unless his demands are met. But he’s underestimated these girls.

The acting is slightly better than you might expect from such a deliriously trashy B-movie. Michael Ansara as Eamon O'Reilly makes a marvellous (although amazingly incompetent) diabolical criminal mastermind. Francine York is good as Sabrina. She’s charismatic and tough, but she’s all woman. Tura Satana (yes, the star of Russ Meyer’s Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!) has fun as a member of The Doll Squad. The special effects are cheap, silly and amusing.

One thing that’s interesting is the way the violence is handled. It’s not the least bit graphic, there’s no gore, and it’s very cartoonish. But I was a bit shocked the first time one of the Doll Squad members knocked a bad guy out, then pulled out a gun and calmly pumped several rounds into his unconscious body. This turns out to standard operating procedure for these deadly dolls. And several members of The Doll Squad don’t survive the movie. It’s an odd touch of brutal realism in an otherwise very cartoonish movie.

Director Ted V. Mikels claimed that the Charlie’s Angels TV series was a direct rip-off of this movie. While there are definite similarities, the idea of glamorous female spies or crime-fighters wasn’t actually a new one. Jess Franco for one had already done something similar with his two Red Lips movies in the late 60s.

Basically, The Doll Squad is good cheesy fun (and it is very cheesy). It has the amateurish social effects, the mostly hammy acting and the extremely silly plot that such movies require.

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