Wednesday, July 05, 2017


Even though I am very much a cult movie fan there are large areas of the cult film world that over the years I have avoided for various reasons. The films of Ted V. Mikel's definitely fall into the avoided 'on purpose' area. I've had plenty of opportunities to see a number of his more notorious movies but I've almost always dodged them. I caught one of them as a Mystery Science Theater episode so I don't really consider that as a viewing. I know I caught THE CORPSE GRINDERS (1971) at some point in the past but it was from VHS on a very drunken night and my memories of it are almost nonexistent. I'd love to eventually see THE BLACK KLANSMAN (1966) because the plot just sounds amazing. So when I sat down the other night and popped in the Blu-ray of this film from 1973 I wasn't really sure what I was in for.

It turns out that THE DOLL SQUAD (1973) is a mildly competent, low budget action adventure film about a freelance team of female spies that are hired on occasion  by the American government for black ops. In this case the 'computer' (remember when just the mention of a computer somehow communicated accuracy if not perfection?) says that Sabrina Kincaid and her group are the right choice for this mission, so they are sent in to take care of a Bond villain style plot against the USA and the world. The villain is played by Michael Ansara and he seems to be having a pretty good time even though he never leaves the confines of a small house that serves as his base of evil operations. I suspect that his scenes were shot over the space of about 2 days at most. He plays the character straight but the script asks him to be the typical movie villain who over-explains his plot and then can't quite kill the hot lady in time.

Female lead Francine York as Sabrina is quite good and quite shapely. There was something familiar about her face so I was not too surprised when I looked up her list of credits to learn just how busy her career has been. She just passed away at the beginning of 2017 at the age of 80 and still has a film that hasn't come out yet!

The movie is colorful, swiftly paced and never really boring even if I feel it should be a little shorter. The meager budget often shows and Mikel's direction sometimes undercuts his darker intentions and leaves his actors hanging. The film isn't afraid to kill off it's female cast but we don't know them well enough for it to be effective. Also, the deadly serious tone just cannot be maintained for the full running time so the movie occasionally lapses into unintentional humor. These moments when Mikel's reach exceeds his grasp cause a few chuckles but they are also kind of endearing. It's heartening to see a film like this being made with little money but a lot of energy. THE DOLL SQUAD isn't very good but it is entertaining if you take it in the spirit intended. The same cannot always be said even today.  


Nick Rentz said...

The last movie of his I tried to watch was 10 Violent Women. The movie was so incompetent I turned it off. Also, I found The Corpse Grinders boring. He seemed like a cool guy in real life. How big of a part does Tura Santana play in The Doll Squad?
If there is an area of cult cinema I stray from it's the films of Andy Milligan. They are fascinating because you can learn so much about who he was as a person, but they are so incompetent and sleep inducing.

Rod Barnett said...

Tura Santana is a supporting player here. She has enough screentime to be considered a fair portion of the film without really having very much to do.

I'v only seen one or two Milligan films and I've not been encouraged by their qualities to dive deep.

Brian Lindsey said...

Gotta love that exploding vodka (or whatever it's supposed to be)!