Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Doll Squad (1973)

I first read about filmmaker Ted V. Mikels in a book called Incredibly Strange Films, published by RE/Search in 1986. I was writing a major paper for a film studies class and had chosen to do a semiotic analysis of Women In Prison films. A fellow student told me that there was a chapter on those movies in Incredibly Strange Films, so I went out and bought a copy at one of the better bookstores in town. There wasn’t a ton of information on Women In Prison films, but the book was fascinating and I read it from cover to cover. It made me want to see the films talked about in the various chapters, and the work of Ted V. Mikels was no exception.

A couple of years later, I found a VHS tape in a bargain bin with a cheesy ’80’s photograph on the cover. The title of the movie was Wildcats and the copyright year was 1989. A closer examination of the box revealed the name Ted V. Mikels in the credits. I did not recall a movie called Wildcats talked about in Incredibly Strange Films. And the photos on the back of the box looked more like the early ’70s than the late ’80s. I wondered if this was an older movie repackaged to look like it was brand new (sort of like the giallos that had been repackaged to look like ’80s slasher films). In any case, this was a Ted V. Mikels movie, and whether I had read about it in Incredibly Strange Films or not, I was going to buy it.

I suppose it will come as no shock when I say that Wildcats (1989) turned out to be The Doll Squad (1973). I was thrilled to own a copy (and finally get to see) one of Ted V. Mikels’ most iconic films – and it did not disappoint me!

Legend has it that The Doll Squad was the inspiration for the hit TV show (and one of my childhood favourites) Charlie’s Angels (1976-81). I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s a fascinating possibility. The Doll Squad is more of a James Bond-ish espionage story. The Doll Squad, it seems, works for the government whenever their supercomputer recommends them for a job. The only odd part is that the leader of the squad, Sabrina Kincaid (played by Francine York), seems to recruit members for the mission after getting the assignment. So, they’re not a regular team? Maybe they’re a team with many members and they have to select the right ones for each mission, depending on their individual skills? I must admit that I’m not clear on that part.

A couple of potential team members (SPOILER ALERT) get killed before the mission has even begun, so maybe The Doll Squad is a team that goes through members as fast as Spinal Tap goes through drummers. Who knows? Oddly enough, Charlie’s Angels went through a few team members during their five year run. However, none of them, to the best of my recollection, died.

The Doll Squad (1973) is the epitome of #NotQuiteClassicCinema. I recently upgraded my bargain bin VHS tape to the excellent Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome – which includes a second Ted V. Mikels film called Mission Killfast (1991)  – and you can bet I’ll be checking that one out on a future #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn