Movie still from 1973's "The Doll Squad."

The Doll Squad

November 8, 2015

“I heard you did a pilot … what was it?”


“It was a show about a team of secret agents called ‘Fox Force Five.’ Fox as in we’re a bunch of foxy chicks, Force as in we’re a force to be reckoned with, and Five as in there’s one, two, three, four, five of us,” the black-haired Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) explains to the hitman Vincent Vega (John Travolta) as they chat over milkshakes and extra-bloody hamburgers at Jack Rabbit Slim’s in 1994’s Pulp Fiction


Mia, the wife of gangster boss Marsellus Wallace, used to be a small-time TV actress, her claim to fame being the filming of the pilot episode of “Fox Force Five,” a Charlie’s Angels knock-off that never quite made it. Legend has it that the Deadly Viper Assassination Death Squad of Kill Bill was ingeniously a continuation of the premise of Fox Force Five — few, however, know that the origin of the story did not come from Charlie’s Angels but rather The Doll Squad, a 1973 Z movie that most likely inspired the decade-defining former. (Producer Aaron Spelling attended the premiere.)


You can probably assume what the film is about: a team of deadly but seductive government agents whose wits match their looks, their courageousness equalled by their willingness to fight for their country.  Lead by the flame-haired Sabrina Kincaid (Francine York), the estrogen infused bunch is given the task to take down Eamon O’Reilly (Michael Ansara), a terrorist threatening to internationally re-release the bubonic plague.  The man is, coincidentally, a former lover of Sabrina’s.  But the latter, more in touch with her intellect than her heart, has no trouble pushing aside romantic interests for the safety of the world.


When I call The Doll Squad a Z-movie, I’m not putting it lightly: the genre is defined by Wikipedia as “low-budget films with qualities lower than B-movies,” and the film certainly fits the bill.  If you thought Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! looked cheap, think again.  The Doll Squad is so pressed for money that it replaces explosions with fireworks and atrocious editing tricks that cause the screen to fill with the color red.  It filmed its climactic action scene in a single night and didn’t bother to use much lighting in the pitch dark, and most hilariously, could only afford a single gun prop, which director Mikels alternated between the actresses. 


But The Doll Squad is the kind of bad movie that endears more than it disgusts, partly because its premise works surprisingly well in the context of a no-budget release and because its cast of actresses, tantalizing and fun to watch, are good enough of actors to pull a Pam Grier, slathering enough charisma onto the scene for us to scarf down in replacement of actual quality. Mikels doesn’t provide much of a backstory regarding why these particular women were chosen by Sabrina and her bosses to be a part of the Doll Squad (nonexistent is Charlie’s Angels's nifty opening credits that explained why Farrah Fawcett could actually be a law enforcer), but what we do know is that they’re toothsome and look fantastic in their matching, skintight tracksuits, memorably worn during the exciting, climactic raiding of the lead villain’s headquarters.


It’s poorly edited and works more as a cheap thrill than a methodical one, but The Doll Squad is a favorite. Not unnecessarily sleazy, it is made all the more entertaining, in part, because of its spuriousness.  B