The Film (4/5)
Ted V. Mikels may be an acquired taste for some, but for others like myself, his films are absolute treasures of camp cinema. Case in point the film we have here The Doll Squad, Mikel's 1973 effort. A film that takes a James Bond-esque premise, and sends it through Mikels’ distinct vision to create something so entertaining, it’s concept would eventually be ripped off later in the decade by TV Mega-Producer Aaron Spellng for his show Charlie’s Angels.
The film follows a squad of deadly female secret agents led by Sabrina (Francine York), who are called upon by the government to stop the diabolical Eamon (Michael O'Reilly) from unleashing a biological weapon. Each member of the squad comes from a different background in order to contribute something special to the squad's mission, this includes everything from a librarian to a scientist, and an erotic dancer named Lavelle who is played by Faster Pussycat Kill Kill's Tura Satana (Her presence in the film is how I came to see this film on VHS many moons ago).
The film is uneven in it's pacing, but is an absolute blast to watch. The action sequences are decently staged, and the effects workable, but due to budgetary constraints never outstanding . This isn't actually a complaint, because what we have on display actually fits the camp atmosphere that Mikels has created with the film. The pseudo-Kung Fu on display is terrible in execution, but similarly fun to watch. The performances across the board are typical B-Movie material, but when watching it is easy to tell that the actors involved are having a ball playing in Ted V. Mikels’ James Bond-esque playground.
And that's the thing about the Doll Squad regardless of the budgetary limitations imposed on them Mikels and the cast manage to make something truly great, memorable and fun. It is the enthusiasm of the director and cast for the film that helps it transcend it's status as just another B-Movie, and turn it into something that has, and will continue to be remembered for decades to come.
Vinegar Syndrome continues their streak of quality Blu-ray releases with the Doll Squad.The film is presented in an AVC encoded 1:85:1 transfer that is taken from Ted V. Mikels' personal original negative for the film. The detail presented here is excellent, and colors look both bright and natural. The black levels are solid, and flesh tones are largely accurate, and Doll Squad along with Mission: Killfast (the second feature on the blu-ray) have both very filmlike presentations. There is a bit of print damage throughout, but nothing too distracting overall.
Vinegar Syndrome is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track in English. The tracks are serviceable, but fairly basic. The dialogue is audible throughout, and the effects and music come through nicely for the most part. I did detect some pops and hissing through the track, but they were fairly minor, and did not distract from the film.
The main extra on this set is a whole second feature film Mission: Killfast. An action/kung-fu film from Mikels' shot in spurts between 1981 and 1991. The film is a little bit uneven, but still a great deal of fun. The most interesting extra on the disc, however, would probably have to be the commentary track on Doll Squad featuring director Ted V. Mikels and moderated by the director of the excellent American Grindhouse documentary Elijah Drenner. We also get an 8 minute Standard Def interview with Mikels culled together from unused segments in American Grindhouse. This is followed up by a nearly 9 minute interview with Mikels on the making of Mission: Killfast. We also get a 7 minute interview with Doll Squad actress Francine York. The disc is rounded off with the film's theatrical trailer.
The Doll Squad is a camp cult classic, probably most known to casual viewers for being ripped off by Aaron Spelling for his 70's uber-hit Charlie's Angels. The A/V Restoration by Vinegar Syndrome is fantastic, and the extra features included the feature film Mission: Killfast are a mix of fun and informative. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.