The Doll Squad (1973) + Mission: Killfast (1991)

The Doll Squad

THE DOLL SQUAD is a remarkably entertaining piece of 1970s cheese.  This fine vintage serves as a spiritual mother to Greydon Clark’s ANGEL’S BRIGADE and grandmother to Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts’ popular TV series Charlie’s Angels.  The film follows the CIA’s highly trained and elite covert unit code named the “Doll Squad” on a mission to save the world…what else?  A high profile rocket launch is sabotaged because of Senator Stockwell’s refusal to provide top secret information to a shadowy figure.  The senator calls in the Doll Squad led by Sabrina Kincaid (Francine York), but as fast as she assembles her team they are assassinated leading to the conclusion that the Senator’s office is compromised.  Once the leak is sealed she and her team spring into action.

The saboteur is none other than Sabrina’s former lover and rogue CIA agent Eamon O’Reilly (Michael Ansara) who succeeded in faking his own death some time ago.  He has quietly amassed a large private army of unsurprisingly ineffectual soldiers and plans to upend the state of the world by toppling every major government…with rats infected by a new plague.  He has holed up in a sprawling secure compound where he has gathered his agents from around the globe to equip them with their allotment of plague.  All hell breaks loose as the Doll Squad encounters double cross upon double cross and finally closes in on O’Reilly’s island hideaway.

The film has every spy flick cliche imaginable.  There are double agents, big red phones with direct lines to the president, ridiculous gadgets and impossible missions.  There’s even a frickin’ messenger pigeon.  The title sequence is a relic of a garish nightmare of hot pink, green, orange and red and the closing theme is lounge music that would make James Bond smile. 

The actors attack their parts with gusto though its hard to tell who is who save Francine York as Sabrina and the curvy Tura Satana as Lavelle.  There are a lot of characters with little introduction, the ones who are adequately introduced are aced two minutes afterwards.  The film is rated PG but there are still a couple moments of extreme violence.  One agent gets her brains blown out the back of her head after kicking some bad ass and another is shot down like a dog while she is chained to a clothes rack. 

It would be an insult to bad pyrotechnic effects to call Mikels effects on THE DOLL SQUAD bad, so I will instead call them non-existent.  He simply superimposes an explosion over what he wants to show blown up.  It is absolutely ridiculous and I mean that in a good way.  It is hard to keep a straight face when a guard explodes from drinking high explosive vodka.  The story, as crazy as it is, is at least linear with a clear beginning, middle and end.  The picture quality is excellent as it is a high definition transfer of original negatives.  THE DOLL SQUAD kicks some serious ass as it provides some unintentional laughs.  Michael Ansara is a total badass too.

Mission: Killfast

MISSION: KILLFAST is the real headscratcher of the two.  Like THE DOLL SQUAD, it throws the viewers into the midst of a perplexing espionage scenario involving another major league bad guy with a private army.  Unlike its co-feature KILLFAST does little to clear up any confusion.  Where moments of expository dialogue cleared up any major gaps in THE DOLL SQUAD, here they only serve to further cloud the already murky waters.  The government calls on Tiger Yang (appearing as himself), a world class martial artist who owns a chain of martial arts studios.  Tiger and Agent Harry Breman (Ronald Gregg) embark on a dizzying series of missions with a threadbare objective as mob bosses, terrorist militias, smugglers, hit men, arms dealers and smut peddlers find themselves under attack.  When their man on the inside the militia, Valone, has is cover blown and gets aced his voluptuous daughter Catt (Sharon Hughes) rushes in to avenge her father’s death.  There’s also two or three other people in the group as one man gets executed during the final assault and then there’s the model with the shaved head near the beginning that gets shot in the head by a sniper…it’s all very confusing. 

Eventually the Feds get a lead on the detonators and Cocoa Joe (Rex Ravelle) the hit man comes out of nowhere in a ridiculous disguise and rapes Catt.  In an utterly surreal moment, Breman and Yang walk in on the drugged and nude Catt and when she tells them she was raped they ask, “Are you OK?”  Of course she is…the guy they think raped her is reported as dead and they discount her ravings until they realize their mistake and find her further exploited with her throat slashed.  Soon Tiger and his black belts are on their way to the militia camp to finish what they started.

There is noway to do this plot, as it were, justice with mere words.  It must be seen to be believed.  Characters disappear and come back and several look a decade older in some scenes but not others.  Sharp eyed viewers will notice that things seem very late 70s and early 80s at times and late 80s from scene to scene.  This is all explained in Mustache Commandos! an interview with Ted V. Mikels about the making of MISSION: KILLFAST.  The production was fraught with setback upon setback.  Primary filming was started in 1980 and finished nine years later.  Studios got involved and wanted things changed around and someone actually stole a couple of reels from the first production.  What graces the screens is Mikels’ best attempt at salvaging a film that had scenes shot ten years apart.  In a way it is quite a feat.  The story makes as much sense as midgets playing kickball but in this light it is impressive nonetheless.

The acting is atrocious all around with Tiger delivering lines that rival Y.K. Kim in MIAMI CONNECTION.  Some other gaffes include a pair of actors who portrayed two of Tiger’s black belts who fought side by side in the dojo and in the take-down of the terrorists show up side by side again as security to a facility Tiger is trying to infiltrate.  There are some highlights in casting though.  Sharon Hughes played Catt and she may or may not be the inspiration for Prince’s hit “Little Red Corvette.”  It’s possible though, as you can see in the film she definitely has a chassis built for speed.  There is also more good casting news in the dairy department as Miss August is none other than the lovely Jewel Shepard credited here as Jewel Shephard. 

The picture quality is pretty good overall considering some of these reels languished in Mikels’ home for almost ten years.  The high definition transfer looks good and it does not look overly polished.  The sound is inconsistent, presumably from the different stages of filming stretched over a decade.  Vinegar Syndromes loving care is evident throughout.

Special features include a feature commentary with Ted V. Mikels for THE DOLL SQUAD, an interview with Mikels featuring excerpts from AMERICAN GRINDHOUSE, “Mustache Commandos!” Mikels on the making of MISSION: KILLFAST, interview with Francine York, and a trailer for THE DOLL SQUAD.  The disc also features reversible cover artwork representative of each film.

The film will be released on September 10, 2013 and can be purchased directly from Vinegar Syndrome who have lowered prices to match other retailers and also ship orders over $25 for free.  You can take advantage of that here.

Check out the trailer below:

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