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The Doll Squad/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< The Doll Squad

The Doll Squad is one of Ted V. Mikels' best films -- a low budget drive-in movie that's goofy, creative, fast paced, usually interesting, and a lot of fun. It plays like a cheap James Bond knock-off-complete with a ruthless villain intent on ruling the world. Yes, it's the movie that is said to be the inspiration for Aaron Spelling's Charlie's Angels. In case you've believed any of the rumors, let's set the record straight.

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Tura Satana (Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!) invited Aaron Spelling to a screening of Mikels' The Doll Squad. A couple of years later Spelling created a television series named Charlie's Angels that had a few things in common with the movie and even a lead character named Sabrina. Mikels never claimed he was ripped off, nor did he ever sue Spelling, and Spelling never paid Mikels any money. Mikels has seen many of his ideas 'borrowed' and turned into something else many times over the course of his long career. Spelling probably was inspired by the film, but Charlie's Angels isn't a direct rip-off. It would have been nice if Spelling gave Mikels some credit or money, but that's not the way things happen in Hollyweird. Mikels made almost nothing on Doll Squad, even though it played Drive-Ins for several years. He lost a lucrative distribution deal when he had to pre-sell the foreign rights to raise enough money to finish the movie.

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Mikels is probably best known for: Astro Zombies and The Corpse Grinders --both are considered Grade Z movies. Ted's directed 22 full length movies (he recently completed his 22nd: The Cauldron of Blood) and shot, edited, or produced more than a dozen others. He's utterly obsessed with making movies and continues to make them for under $40,000. He earns money making industrial videos, commercials, trade show presentations, audition tapes and conducting seminars on filmmaking out of his Las Vegas studio near his home. Doll Squad, released in 1973 was one of his most expensive productions costing approximately $256,000 to complete. The Corpse Grinders, one of his lowest budgeted movies cost around $18,000 to make (not a typo, that's really $18,000). Doll Squad luxuriates in 70s tackiness in just about every way you can imagine: shag carpeting, big haired women with large eyelashes, polyester outfits and dialogue peppered with the slang and vernacular of the time. It's aged better than platforms, hot rocks, mood rings and disco combined!!!

An insane villain has blown up an experimental space flight and delivered a message to a famous Senator (John Carter) via closed circuit television. A C.I.A. type director (Anthony Eisley) consults with a super computer nicknamed BERTHA who advises that the best hope the U.S. has is The Doll Squad. That brings big red haired, busty , long legged Sabrina (Francine York) onto the scene. She needs to quickly recruit super agents with various specialties to begin the mission and make the world safe once again. The assembled team features several of Mikels' Castle ladies and tough gal/stripper Tura Satana as Lavella Sumara munitions expert. Other Squad babes included: Jean London, Sherri Vernon, Leigh Christian, Bret Zeller, Carol Terry and Judy McConnell.

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In very little time they realize the arch villain is none other than former spy and ex-fiance of Sabrina, Eamon O'Riley (Michael Ansara). He lives in what looks like a fancy, tacky Palm Springs house that is on a heavily guarded island off the coast of Venezuela. His right hand man is none other than my favorite Mikel's supporting sleaze-ball William Bagdad. Herb Robbins also shows up as Munson the hired hit man.

Sit back and enjoy the ride as we learn about secret agents with implants in their necks, vodka that makes anyone who drinks it explode, and the mad plot to send rats infested with bubonic plague to various areas of the world. We also get a very odd looking Kaleidoscope editing wipe, some superimposed explosions, barely competent martial arts action, over the top gun battles and girls in bikinis. There's very little gore, no nudity (though we do see Tura in her pasties) and some foul language.

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Does it make much sense? Well there's a wild 11-year-old boy playing with his army men kind of logic to it, but no of course it doesn't make much sense. What you get is a very silly, very fun, very cheap sort of P.G. rated drive-in movie. The dialogue is ridiculous, and the acting varies widely. You'll either consider it a tacky mess or have a great time. Enjoy it.

Doll Squad's concept was obviously a marketable one and the goofy ideas and concepts Mikels injects into the proceedings are all a lot of fun. It's a time capsule movie of some of the 70s tackiest fashions and trends. Expect one of the most wholesome 'women with guns' sub-genre films you'll ever see that plays like a long t.v show pilot with a touch more sleaze and foul language than usual. It's the kind of mindless drive-in movie fare I crave to watch on a hot summer night. Maybe you do also.

Reviewed by Count Graf Orlock

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