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.
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.