The Doll Squad (1973)

Rating: **
Review Date: 10/1/18
Director: Ted V. Mikels
Cast: Francine York, Michael Ansara, Tura Satana, Sherri Vernon

A power-mad and profusely sweaty villain named Eamon (Michael Ansara) plans to take over the world by infecting the population with bubonic plague. The only way to thwart such a diabolical plot is to call on an all-female task force known as The Doll Squad, which is led by a busty redhead named Sabrina (Francine York) who just so happens to have a romantic history with Eamon. In addition to Sabrina, America's finest anti-terrorism team consists of a librarian (Sherri Vernon), a stripper (Tura Satana), a competitive swimmer, a psychologist/hypnotist, and a rookie who works at a ticket booth in an amusement park. Through a combination of feminine persuasion and excessive firepower, the girls manage to break into Eamon's Venezuelan fortress and put him and his goons out of business before the deadly virus is unleashed.

It's a truly awful film, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. As a piece of female action cinema, the attitude, tone, and character presentation are spot-on. The material is handled with straight-faced seriousness and the women are skilled, intelligent, and treated with respect. There's no chauvinistic male posturing to undermine the value of the female characters, who are confident in both their abilities and sexuality. While there are plenty of bikinis, bare mid-riffs, and plunging necklines on display, the film is surprisingly free of sex and nudity, which is unusual for the time period and lends a certain amount of class and credibility to the production. The outrageous fashions and unbelievably voluminous hairstyles are good for some laughs, and Francine York's wardrobe is shocking in its size and garish variety. Ms. York does an excellent job as the leader of the group and tears into her role with voracious intensity. Michael Ansara makes a suave and ruthless villain, as well as a cunning opponent for Sabrina to play off of. Sherri Vernon is very pretty and Tura Satana looks a bit softer and more feminine than usual.

Where the film falls apart is in its low budget execution. The visual effects are embarrassingly bad and the superimposed explosions are laughably awful. The action scenes are extremely weak, but there are a handful of nice blood impact effects sprinkled throughout. The lighting is crude, the sets and locations look cheap, and the continuity is terrible. Scenes shift between night and day with reckless abandon, which makes the action difficult to follow. The funky "Enter The Dragon" (1973) inspired music score is actually pretty good and sets the mood and pace nicely, but it's played on an infinite loop and wears out its welcome after the first hour. For fans of B-movies and female action cinema, it can be a pleasantly enjoyable piece of mindless fluff, but mainstream audiences will probably find it unwatchable.