NOTE: After finishing this article, I managed to find this picture on the Internet Movie Database, under the title Hell Squad. This confirmed one theory I had about the film (see below). However, I also learned that the movie, which seemed very much like it was made in the 1970’s, in fact came out in 1985. This really surprised me, as I have a pretty good eye for this sort of thing.
There were hints, though. For instance, one minor character is played by an actor who seems to be trying to look like Tom Selleck’s Magnum P.I., presumably as some sort of joke. That show, of course, ran during the ’80s. Also, the movie’s theme music was clearly ripped off from Remo Williams – The Adventure Begins, a film that also just happened to come out in 1985. Anyway, I considered rewriting the article to reflect my newly found information, but decided against it. So here it is, as I wrote it, warts and all.
Let me start with a cautionary note. It seems unlikely, but it’s always possible that someone, having read this review, will decide that they want to see the film. So just in case, you should know that this is the kind of cheap, nondescript movie that is often released under a number of different titles. That it’s true in this case is suggested by the title credit in my copy (see above).
This proves to be a still image from the film, with the title superimposed, that interrupts the, uh, action of the movie. In other words, it appears to have been cut in over the original title sequence. Chances are (due to factors mentioned below) that the picture’s original title was Hell Squad. But a film like this might be out there under four or five different titles. So your best bet of finding it amongst similar ‘female commandos’ flicks is to read the plot description on the video box, matching it to the plot as detailed below.
This is because distributors, hoping to sell a few more copies, will sometimes alter the title of a property. This in the hope that unwary stores or consumers, having previously bought a copy, might think it another film entirely and buy it again. This used to happen quite a lot in the early days of video releases. It was especially prevalent with the kind of cheapie tapes that you’d find piled on tables at your local K-Mart, selling for three bucks a throw. A similar technique was also prevalent in the drive-in movie days. Distributors would re-release films under new titles, and cheese-seeking teens (mostly) would end up paying to see the same piece of crap they might have seen a year earlier.
Action films were hugely successful drive-in fare in the 1970s, and flicks featuring ass-kicking chicks were a solid sub-genre. This is because the idea of women as action leads was a bit novel, while providing an obvious opportunity for some audience pleasing nudity. A classic scene, for instance, is in the seminal TNT Jackson. TNT travels to the Philippines (a regular locale for low budget action flicks then) to avenge her brother’s death. She’s ambushed in her room, while wearing only a tiny pair of panties (remember Sigorney Weaver in Alien?). This allows the director to show off her bod while she jumps around beating her assailants to a pulp, an exploitation two-fer.
Flicks like these, and others like the ‘Ginger’ series of ‘spy & sex’ pictures (The Abductors, Girls are for Loving, etc.) were the direct predecessors of the later ‘breasts & booms’ movies produced by Andy Sidaris. Well known to Cinemax subscribers, Sidris’ family has cranked out a seemingly endless batch of colorful action flicks starring Fabio-esque males and cartoonishly endowed Penthouse and Playboy centerfold models.
Featuring attractive globe-trotting locales, tongue in cheek humor, cool cars and ‘neat’ (if often silly) weapons, such films as Guns, Hard Ticket to Hawaii, Picasso Trigger, and Savage Beach are slickly made entertainments. They provide their audiences exactly what they want, not skimping in the least on the gratuitous nudity, sex and violence, while providing a better than average level of technical competence. (Actually, what’s amazing is how many exploitation films, whose audiences expect so little, fail to pay off in these cheesy essentials.)
Commando Girls, needless to say, is a much more primitive example of the breed. Still, it has an inept charm that eludes many others of its ilk. Many such films are just plain dull, and quite a few are surprisingly mean-spirited in their violence (although I suppose this isn’t a problem for some fans). Others, like Angel’s Revenge, which was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, skimp on the skin. Nor is Commando Girls the nudefest it could have been. Apparently, there was only enough money in the budget to pay two women the ‘topless’ bonus. Instead, the film features a plethora of bikini and teddy clad females, as well as plenty of goofy, if wildly improbable, violence. However, it is the film’s utterly ludicrous plot set-up that makes it such an enjoyable turkey.
We open with a stock footage atomic bomb blast, somewhere in the desert. Oddly, it’s not one of the three or four such shots (such as the ocean blast that engulfs those seemingly minute Naval vessels) that have been featured in seemingly hundreds of B-grade sci-fi potboilers. Two investigators, one in a silver radiation suit, the other in a yellow decontamination suit (I guess they figured one or the other would work), enter a presumed testing area. They are armed with, needless to say, a merrily clicking Geiger counter. Oddly, the radiation suit features pant legs that are unattached to the shoes, instead gaping open at the ankles. This doesn’t seem like a good idea, but what do I know?
There are a bunch of empty cages and shackles, which supposedly were recently holding animals (including an elephant!). The idea apparently is that the stock footage blast denoted the testing of an ‘Ultra-Neutron Bomb,’ one that disintegrates organic matter entirely, while leaving property virtually unscathed. (Do I even have to mention that this isn’t how Neutron bombs would really work?) Of course, the whole idea behind the neutron bomb is that people are killed, but buildings are left for the victors to claim. So the high levels of radiation indicated here make no sense. You can’t commandeer radioactive land. You’d think that they’d just toss in a line about how the radiation will quickly dissipate, but apparently no one thought of it.
The Investigators, who presumably trained for this work and freely joined one of the Government’s research branches, proceed to engage in some barely decipherable (they’re wearing head gear, remember?) expository dialog. Their banter also allows the screenwriter to sound off against the evil weapon that he created for this movie. Oh, when will Evil Governments stop creating the type of super weapons that drive the plots of cheeseball action pictures? Brothers and sisters, let’s clasp hands and sing: “How many roads must a man walk down, before they will call him a manâ€¦”
We cut to a stock shot of a generic ‘Middle-East’ town, with a generic ‘Arab’ music cue helpfully provided for context. We zoom in on the stock shot, until we cut to a stock shot of an individual building, whose architecture in no way reflects the town we’ve just been shown. Oddly, this utterly generic office building proves to be the American Embassy to whatever country (Generistan, probably) we are in. It really doesn’t look like any Embassy that I’ve ever seen, but what do I know?
The camera continues to zoom in on what appears to be an office on maybe the fifth floor of a nine story building. This proves to be the Ambassador’s office. Wouldn’t the actual Ambassador rate an office on a higher floor? And why doesn’t the office interior match the window style as shown on the outside? And how come the shot zoomed in on an office in the middle of the building, but the Ambassador’s office proves to be a corner office? Why if his office so small? Why is it painted an awful red color? Why are there pictures of racing cars on the wall, but no American Flags present?
The Ambassador, Mark Stewart, proves to be a rather ratty little man who dresses like a used car salesman. He’s currently being berated by his son, Jack, about the evils of the Neutron Bomb. Stewart responds with a half-hearted, not brilliantly constructed defense of the Bomb’s existence. He takes the kid to a window, which looks out onto an alley. There, generic Arab folk (with dubbed in ‘wailing’ sounds helpfully provided) are standing in a pile of plywood, gathering scraps. Apparently, a war just occurred here (and I mean, just occurred). Stewart points out that if Neutron weapons, rather than conventional ones, had been used here, the survivors would still have homes to live in now that the war is (presumably) over.
I guess that there’s germ of an idea there, but the viewer is instead caught up wondering why an American Ambassador would have an office overlooking a rubble strewn alley. Besides, wouldn’t an Embassy be on, you know, grounds? Wouldn’t there be a perimeter of some sort, rather than having the main building, containing the Ambassador’s official office, abut a local alley?
Jack remains unconvinced, and vows to return to the States to use his apparently immense influence as the son of an American Ambassador (!) to ‘tell the People’ about the bomb. Soâ€¦what, then? The Bomb’s a secret? How did Jack learn of it? Did Dad just happen to mention the Bomb to his knuckleheaded peacenik son? Aren’t there, like, laws against that kind of thing? For that matter, why would the Ambassador to a third rate foreign country know about it either? He hardly seems to be in a ‘need to know’ situation.
Jack stalk out and jump into an Embassy limo (I see he doesn’t mind the perks of the office). This is driven by a tall guy whose mustache, Hawaiian shirt and baseball cap make him look startlingly like Tom Selleck’s Magnum PI. Then, as ‘action’ music cues us that something ‘exciting’ is happening, a carload of Arabs waiting by the side of the road begins to chase them. In a maneuver that seems, uh, counterintuitive, Jack’s chauffeur/bodyguard decides to drive off of the road, out into the desert. Why this is supposed to improve the situation isn’t delineated.
The Arabs manage to cut off the limo. Jack’s chauffeur unwisely decides to jump out into the open, rather than seeking cover, and eats some lead for his trouble. Jack, meanwhile, tries to fight his way out, but ends up being tossed into the trunk of the kidnapper’s car. At this, the Jonny Quest-esque action music comes to a cartoony flourish, informing us that the prologue is now over.
Sure enough, the title ‘credits’ begin, backed by theme music that is suspiciously similar to the main theme from Remo Williams – The Adventure Begins. That embarrassing necessity completed, we cut back to our movie. Some Arab toughs toss Jack into a spartan room (that has ‘set’ written all over it), decorated only with some manacles secured to the wall. There is another prisoner there, festooned with ersatz ‘whipping’ scars. This lets us know that Jack in for a bad time. Jack tries to elicit a response from this fellow, but he’s too out of it to answer. This guy must be in really bad shape, because he’s not trying to escape. This despite the fact that he’s obviously purposely sticking his hands through the too-large wrist manacles.
We cut to another obvious set, this one hastily constructed with the help of a rug posing as a tapestry, a wicker ‘Casablanca’ chair, a table and a porcelain camel (?!). The fellow sitting here is phoning in the ransom demand, while down in the dungeon guards come to collect Jack himself. Laughably, the guards pretend to unshackle Jack, although you can tell that he never actually had the manacles on in the first place. This is a derivation of the classic B-Movie ‘Pretend to unlock the door when you don’t actually have a key’ shot.
Cut to the Ambassador’s office. Stewart is talking with Jim Rather, his bodyguard. It’s hinted that at one time Jim was some sort of U.S. Government security type. Stewart hasn’t heard from the kidnappers yet. “If only the abductors would makes contact,” he moans. “This damn waiting isâ€¦” At this point, he’s supposed to be interrupted by the sound of an incoming call. However, because of inept staging, there’s a three beat wait before the sound of the phone ringing is heard. And since the guy playing Stewart is a rather poor actor, he stops where the script indicates (after “â€¦waiting isâ€¦”) rather than continuing until the phone rings. This, as if we needed it, only serves to remind us that we’re watching a movie here, and not too good of a one at that.
Stewart picks up the call, with Jim listening in on the extension. The kidnappers put Jack on the line, letting Stewart know that he’s alive. Unsurprisingly, the kidnappers want the “second phase fuel formula for the Ultra Neutron Bomb.” I mean, they wouldn’t have introduced the Bomb unless it was part of the plot.
Of course, the Bomb itself would be a warhead, and wouldn’t use ‘fuel.’ The missile carrying it would, but that would just use standard missile fuel. Frankly, they would have been better off having the villains just ask for the Bomb itself, rather than trying to sound ‘scientific.’ Not that any Ambassador on the planet would be able to get it for them, but that’s another matter entirely. The kidnappers give Stewart thirty days. This is an inordinately long time, you’d think, but it’s necessary to make the film’s retarded plot device even remotely plausible, which it isn’t anyway.
Jim points out to Stewart that (duh) there’s no way they can meet the kidnappers’ demands. And, the U.S. Government won’t sanction a rescue attempt. (Why? IITS – It’s In The Script.) Still, Jim tells Stewart that he has a private solution, a crazy plan that just might work. He tells Stewart to have Anna, Stewart’s foxy secretary, book him a flight to Las Vegas.
Cut to stock footage of the Neon Capitol of the World. A stock footage girly show (similar to ones featured in Showgirls, Girl in Gold Boots and Dracula vs. Frankenstein) is coming to a close. At the bar (which in no way matches the stock footage of the rest of the hotel), Jan, the manager/leader of the dancers, is looking on with pleasure at the revue’s purported success. Jim surreptitiously enters, with two obvious hoodlum types preceding him.
These two come on to Jan. She quickly dispatches them with a technique that I dubbed ‘Vague-Fu,’ in that it seemed to match no fighting style I’ve ever seen. One of its peculiarities is that it involves a lot of slapping. Maybe it should be called ‘Moe-Fu.’ Also impressive is that Jan manages to move around, and even throw some kicks, while wearing what have to be the tightest pair of jeans I’ve ever seen. They look like they were inspired by the tradition of Chinese foot-binding. Oddest of all, Jan often doesn’t even seem to make contact with her victims. Nonetheless, they are soon both laid out on the floor.
At this, Jim makes his appearance. Jan is none too glad to see him. Apparently, Jim’s an old flame (whoops, there goes the ClichÃ©’-o’-meterâ„¢!). He pops up every couple of years to drag her into oddball situations, only to disappear on her. Jim reveals that he set the punks on her to see if she “still had it.” (Yeah, this looks like a healthy relationship.) At this point, we cut to Jan’s gaggle of girls, standing around in their eminently uncomfortable looking stage outfits, but giving the flick a necessary infusion of cheesecake. Besides, dammit, they rented all those costumes, and they’re going to use them!
The girls head into their dressing room. This allows for even skimpier clothing to be showcased, although only one girl undresses enough to reveal her chestal units. (After this, only Jan will be so forthcoming. That might well be why she won the lead role.) The girls engage in some desultory ‘humorous’ dialog. They also talk about how broke they are, setting up their eventual acceptance of Jim’s goofy offer. When Jan enters with Jim, one of the girls gives about the worst read of a line I’ve ever heard. When she’s finished mangling it, it comes out, “Gee-whizâ€¦(mumble mumble) Grand Central Station?!” (I’m not sure that one guy warrants a comparison with Grand Central Station, but what do I know?)
Jan tells them that Jim needs some volunteers. When asked what for, one girl archly notes, “We all know what’s legal in this town!” Presumably, she’s speaking of prostitution. But while licensed brothels are legal in the state of Nevada, freelance prostitution isn’t. Furthermore, it’s only some counties well away from Vegas that have actually gone ahead and licensed some cathouses. So, no, actually, it isn’t legal in this town. So much for this ‘knowing’ line.
Jim informs them only that the job will be dangerous. However, he offers them five hundred bucks a week while they train for the assignment. Then, if they make it through training, they will receive $25,000 apiece upon the job’s completion. Dialog indicates that this would take them seventy five weeks to make normally. Man, these chicks must really be broke. I mean, if somebody offered to spend a couple of weeks training you as a ‘Commando’ to fight professional terrorists, and then offered you a year and a half’s salary as recompense, how many people would accept? I certainly wouldn’t.
And yes, I know what you’re thinking. Yep, the plot involves giving some Las Vegas showgirls a couple of weeks of ‘commando’ training, then shipping them to the Middle East to carry out a top secret mission against a band of professional terrorists. And sure, most films pretend that being a Commando requires years of specialized training and experience under fire. This film, however, rips the lid off that myth. All you need is to find some reasonably fit chicks, run them around for two weeks, and: Rambo, watch out!
A van brings the recruits out to a rather, er, minimalist desert training facility. This is oddly staffed by one Sergeant, acting as Drill Instructor, and a ‘comical’ Benny Hill-style horny Colonel. This raises some obvious questions. Why is the military involved in this ‘private’ mission? Why not hire a retired Drill Instructor? Why is a full bird Colonel assigned to watch over one Sergeant? Why am I watching this movie?
The girls spill out from the van, wearing matching sleeveless white T-shirts and tan shorts. Since this was made in the ’70s (or early ’80s), most of the girls at least have real looking breasts. Only one girl has really large boobs, so maybe they’re real, too. Anyway, she becomes the ‘comic relief’ girl, making lame double entendres in a Betty Boop voice. In another ‘comical’ bit, the Colonel looks through his binoculars at her breasts, which we know because we see them through one of those movie ‘binocular’ silhouettes. Maybe next we can see them through a ‘keyhole,’ or a ‘periscope.’ The Colonel also ‘humorously’ remarks how ‘hot’ it is. Yes, sir. It’s always hot in ‘Movie Hell.’
This “secret training center” is supposedly run by the CIA (!), although this again doesn’t explain why the Army’s involved in the training. Wouldn’t the CIA train its own agents? This is especially noticeable as the entire training course consists of:
1. A waist-high metal tube to climb through.
2. Five matched pairs of old tires to run through.
3. A two foot puddle to jump over.
4. And, finally, a six foot tall wooden fence to climb over.
Jim comes out, again warning them that what they are attempting is no easy task. He then turns it over to Sgt. Hearth. “We have less then ten days to transform you from Las Vegas showgirls into expert Commando fighters,” he explains, in case anyone just came in on the movie. You’ve got to give them this, though: Seldom is a film willing to so nakedly state such an utterly ridiculous plot concept.
Sgt. Hearth goes on to promise that, if they make it through, they will be, “the best fighters that ever came out of this camp.” The scary thing is, considering the training ‘facilities’ here, maybe that’s not so ridiculous a claim. Jim chimes in, “And also the richest.” I guess Government jobs didn’t pay any better in 1985.
As the Girls head down to the ‘Obstacle’ course, the theme music starts up again. To make us believe that the ‘intensive’ training is accomplishing something, the Girls (who again are professional dancers) are shown to move awkwardly through the course. Many fail to leap over the puddle, and all fail to surmount the shortish plywood wall. Apparently, being a showgirl requires much less physical fitness than I had previously supposed. This initial ‘training sequence’ lasts all of a minute and twelve seconds.
Then we begin a second sequence. This is presumably at the end of training, as all can now hurdle the puddle and scale the wall. This last, by the way, provides for a cheesy series of butt shots as the Girls make their ascents. Although, since we only see this last bit from a shoulder high perspective, one suspects that they provided a step or trampoline to assist the cast over the wall. Next the Sergeant holds a small board up. He informs them, basically, that if they think they can break it, they can. I guess it’s just that easy. This will also come in especially handy if the Girls are attacked by boards.
We run through the course again. You really start to wish at this point that the film had had a bigger budget. Next, we see the Girls on a firing range, training with M16s. As a gag, Large Breasted Comedy Relief Woman has trouble aiming the weapon, as her breast is in the way. Of course, for this ‘joke’ to work, you have to ignore the fact that you place the weapon’s butt, not under your arm as she’s trying to do, but instead against your shoulder. And instead of correcting this obvious problem, the Sgt. just tells her to fire from her hip.
So, OK. This doesn’t, strictly, make a lot of sense. Still, hilarity of this order is worth any level of suspension of disbelief required. Then, after they fire a total of what appears to be one to three shots, Sgt. Hearth informs them that training is over. They should head over to the pool (yep, the pool) and wait to hear who made the cut. Apparently, their blood-and-guts training period is now completed.
We rejoin the Girls as they run squealing to the pool. This seems rather un-Commando like, but what do I know? Also, the pool proves to be suspiciously ornate, considering that the training center doesn’t even sport a simple running track. Some of the Girls are wearing bathing suits, while others favor the ‘wet T-shirt’ look. Jumping into the water, they giggle and splash one another. Giggle giggle. Isn’t being a Commando keen!
This goes on for awhile, as the camera pans the Girl’s bodies and leers at their goodies. This scene ends up lasting almost as long as the entire ‘training’ segment of the film. Finally, the names of the graduates are read over a loud speaker (?). As all the Girls are basically without any sort of individuality, it hardly matters who made the cut. Except, thankfully, that Large Breasted Comedy Relief Woman will not be moving on to the rest of the movie. Gee, and just when we had finally learned her name (it’s ‘Mary’).
We see Jim on the phone with Stewart, informing him that his plan is proceeding on track. Apparently, Jim hasn’t filled Stewart in on the details yet, and you’d have to agree that that’s probably for the best. Meanwhile, we cut to the Girls, wearing cute little Commando outfits, complete with khaki shorts and sporty berets. They’re pretending that they can march in formation, singing a none-too convincing cadence. “Hell Squad, Hell Squad, we’re the best/Don’t ever put us to the test!”
This is refreshingly frank. Most Commando units would be afraid to admit that they’re not ready to be put to the test. (Uh, I’m assuming that that’s what they mean, anyway.) And again, for those looking for a rental copy of this film, “Hell Squad” sounds suspiciously like the kind of lame title they’d give this picture. So try that if Commando Girls fails to pan out. After a couple more cadences, the Girls come to a staggering halt, and, squealing (again with the squealing!), toss their berets up into the air, like so many Mary Tyler Moores.
Back at Jack’s cell (remember?), the Arabs come in with a couple of bowls. Noting that they are constrained by the Geneva Conventions to feed prisoners once a day (uh, does that sound right?), the lead dastard (who sports a none-too Arab sounding accent) tosses some grain and water onto the floor. “Bon appetÃt,” he sneers. Now, first of all, terrorists aren’t subject (obviously) to the Geneva Conventions. Only recognized countries that are signatories are. Even if we assume that such a country is holding Jack (after murdering a guy and kidnapping him), the Geneva Conventions apply to Prisoners of War, not kidnapped civilians.
I can’t help noticing, given that this is two weeks since Jack was first kidnapped (as the Girls have finished their training), that Jack’s, uh, roommate is sporting the exact same length of mustache and beard, and that his wounds are exactly the same. Apparently, he’s not been abused since, nor has he healed at all, nor have his wounds become further infected. Also, it seems odd that, while Jack’s clothing looks a little rumpled, they are otherwise largely clean.
Next we see Stewart meeting up with Jim and the girls. Viewers will find something oddly distracting about Stewart’s appearance, until it finally hits them that earlier in the movie he sported a mustache, and now it’s mysteriously gone. Hey, good continuity, dudes! Anyway, Jim is finally letting Stewart in on his ‘plan;’ unsurprisingly, Stewart’s less than impressed. “Is this some kind of a cruel joke?” he sputters. No, more of an idiotic plot device.
In any case, Jim’s blown roughly half of the time the kidnappers gave Stewart, so as he now points out, “It’s all we’ve got left.” However, he does reassure Stewart that, “These girls are Commando trained!” Luckily for Jim, Stewart didn’t see the training ‘regimen’ like we did. Otherwise Stewart would have leapt across the table and been throttling him by now.
The BS starts getting a little thick here. For instance, now that Our Heroines have spent ten days stepping across tires and jumping over puddles, we’re told that, and I quote, “Each one of them is an expert in their field. Karate. Marksmanship. Demolitions.” Uh, I guess I missed that part. In comparison, here’s a line that would more accurately reflect what I recall seeing: “Each one of them is an expert in their field. Bad Acting. Wearing skimpy clothing. Instilling boredom in an audience.” In any case, after the Girls beat up a couple of extras who just happen to be standing in the room, Stewart accepts their terms.
Jan’s phone rings in her bedroom that night as she’s sleeping. The ‘actress’ playing Jan pretends to come awake. We watch her awkwardly contort her body, so that when she finally flings her sheet aside to ‘answer the phone,’ her bare breasts are exposed, while her leg is carefully positioned so as to deny us a full frontal shot. It’s Jim, and he tells her to get the Girls together and meet him down by the “Antique Car Show.” Apparently, someone with an antique car exhibit allowed them to shoot a scene there for free. Of course, it has nothing to do with anything, and actually looks kind of stupid, but hey, free set!
So the cast, wearing their nighties and such, congregates down in, yes, a display hall of antique cars. Wow. He tells them about Stewart’s son, and that the kidnapper’s objective is “a secret fuel to be used in a Neutron Bomb.” (See my note above.) This is not only time wasting expository dialog, it’s time wasting expository dialog about stuff we already now! About the only highlight in the scene is an obviously flubbed line by One of the Girls (yeah, like I’m supposed to be able to tell them apart), in spite of the fact that the dialog here was obviously looped in later. In other words, they were too lazy to even re-record a flubbed audio track.
The Girls hop onto a stock footage airplane, which flies over a stock footage Middle East city, then lands at a stock footage airport. Next, they arrive at their hotel. They check out their room, which is a large, one bedroom suite, but in which all nine of them are supposed to bunk. However, there is a Jacuzzi-sized bathtub, of which we’ll be seeing quite a lot. As one observant team member immediately notes, “There’s enough room in here for all of us!” This assertion will be proven time and again as the movie progresses.
Sure enough, in the next shot all nine of them are crammed into the tub, giggling like, well, nine girls all crammed into a tub. Bubble bath is strategically employed to make sure that the producers aren’t on the hook for anymore nudity bonuses. Since they’re in the tub, of course, the phone rings. This, by the way, just happens to be the same ornate style of telephone as the head terrorist guy had in his office. My, what a coincidence.
Jan gets out of the tub to answer the phone, as she’s the movie’s designated Topless Chick. Actually, they don’t answer it at all for about two minutes, but instead bitch about getting a call while relaxing in the tub. Hmm. You know, it’s hard to imagine, say, Rambo getting a top secret phone call and yelling, “Hey, I’m in the bath, here!!”
Oddly, Jan is shiningly wet and sudsy when she draws a towel around her waist, but is completely dry as she reaches for the phone. Then, after getting her assignment, she turns back around and is sopping wet again! Hey, good continuity, dudes. Proving to be a novice at this sort of thing, Jan asks the guy to spell the name of the town he wants attacked. Then, when informed of when the attack should take place, she disbelievingly replies, “Five o’clock in the morning?!”
When the Girls ask who was on the phone, Jan tells them that it was a rich oil sheik. He wants to take them out to dinner and give them all diamond jewelry. The Girls shriek and erupt out of the tub, although in such a manner as to spare any further nudity bonuses. In the next shot, Jan is contentedly luxuriating in the now empty tub. The rest of the Girls, carefully towel clad, reenter the bathroom with dirty looks on their faces. They’ve finally figured out that Jan was pulling their leg. Oh. In case you were wondering, this is ‘funny.’ Naturally, the scene ends with a giggly splash fight.
Next we see our team riding across the desert in a couple of jeeps, wearing their cute little Commando outfits. Hmm. Half-assed ‘military’ vehicles streaking across a desert plain. It sort of reminds one of an all-girl’s high school production of MegaForce. In the close-up insert shots, you can kinda tell that they’re not really driving. Still, the ‘drivers’ pretend to turn the wheel (even though they’re traveling in a straight line) and such so as to simulate that activity. This startlingly realistic portrayal is given even greater verisimilitude through the use of the ‘two grips rocking the jeep’ technique of motion fabrication.
We cut to a fortress where a bunch of Arab nogoodniks are sitting around playing poker and drinking beer. Somehow eluding the notice of the stock footage sentry we see in a tower (how could he have missed vehicles driving across a flat salt plain?), the Girls enter the fortress grounds. As ‘Hey, this is Exciting!’ music plays on the soundtrack, the Girls walk up stairs and go through doors. They don’t come across anyone, so I guess everyone’s in the poker room. Everybody except the stock footage sentry, of course, and, strictly speaking, he’s in another movie altogether.
Eventually, the Girls find the poker room. They burst in en masse, and let fly with their M16s. Then, weirdly, they engage the survivors in some none-too convincing hand-to-hand combat. What’s odd is that there are any survivors. Let me set the scene. A bunch of guys are assembled on one side of a, perhaps, fifteen by fifteen room. Suddenly, a door on the opposite wall bursts open, and nine people armed with automatic weapons let go. Under these conditions, the guys should all be shredded like cheese after about three seconds, as nine twenty round clips are emptied in their direction.
Instead, the Girls enter the room, where no one, in fact, seems to have bought it in the initial fusillade. Once in, they proceed to mow down their targets with semi-automatic fire, or engage them in some Vague-Fu, or, in one memorable shot, take a guy out with a throwing knife, which we see bury itself a full half-inch into its victim. Meanwhile, although it’s obvious at this point that no one is currently firing on full auto (as half the Girls would end up getting perforated, too), the Foley Guys helpfully dub in sounds of numerous rifles spraying automatic fire. After surveying the bodies, we cut to the jeeps driving back across the desert.
Hilariously, the Girls park their jeeps (complete with mounted .50 caliber machine guns) next to a side entrance of their hotel. Yeah, they’ll never be noticed there. Then, still dressed in their Commando duds (no pun intended) and carrying their rifles, they enter the building to head up to their room (!). However, just in case we might think all this incredibly stupid (as if!), the screenwriters artfully explain all:
Commando Girl #1: “Why are we entering the side entrance?”
Commando Girl #2: “We can’t go through the middle of the hotel with our uniforms on, can we?”
OK, now I get it.
Oddly, three of the Girls aren’t carrying rifles when they enter the building, but all of them have one upon arriving in their hotel suite. Exhausted from an eventful day of driving around in the desert and killing people, the gals unsling their weapons and just lean them against whatever piece of furniture is available. Then…you guessed it! Tub Time!
No sooner are they soaking in the tub than the phone rings again. Man, it’s even funnier the second time! Another girl than Jan gets up to take the call this time. I think. Frankly, I can’t really tell all the blondes apart. However, I’m assuming that it’s not Jan, because this woman covers up her chest with a towel before leaving the tub. She receives the locale for the next day’s strike, mentioning her hope that this time they come across Jack.
We cut to another jeep drive. This time their target is a campsite made up of tents, like in M*A*S*H. This site is nestled in a wooded area, muddy from a lot of rain. Frankly, it doesn’t look very ‘Middle East-y.’ Bizarrely, the camp comes equipped with a Sherman Tank, an American World War II-era model. Again, the Girls somehow escape detection, even though they are driving on what is obviously the main road into the camp. They stop a little outside, though, and end up right near the Tank, which is conveniently parked a little ways off from the living quarters.
Despite the fact that the Girls are rather unstealthy in their movements, not to mention wearing red berets (not your best camouflage color), they remain undetected. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Ken, don’t tell us that the Girls know how to operate a thirty year old Battle Tank?!” Well, yes, they do, it turns out. Hmm. We must have missed that part of their training. (Actually, I’m being snide. When the Girls enter the Tank, instead of pretending they were trained on armored vehicles, one merely says, “Don’t worry. I’ll figure this thing out.” Oh. That’s much more believable.)
Sure enough, within seconds they’re operating the Tank, which is adorned with a sheet bearing a spray-painted scimitar. Apparently, this is an attempt to make the out-of-date American Tank look ‘Arab-y.’ Meanwhile, we see a guy enter an outhouse. Comedy Ahoy! Oddly, an ‘outhouse’ bit was also used in a similar ‘base raiding’ scene in the aforementioned Angel’s Revenge.
Anyway, the Girls in a matter of under two minutes manage to pretty much wipe out an entire base full of armed men. But then, they have had extensive Commando training. At this point, the two team members in the Tank manage to climb out (in, I might add, an extremely awkward fashion) and stumble back down into the jeeps. Then, needless to say, it’s back to the Hotel.
Now, supposedly, the goal of this mission was to rescue Jack, who they believed may have been being held in this camp. Ignoring that, however, the Girls just open up with the Tank’s main cannon and the .50 cal machine guns mounted on their jeeps. I guess that since we, the viewers, know that Jack’s being held in a castle, we aren’t supposed to notice this little detail.
However, once one examines the idea, it seems counterproductive to blow up a bunch of tents that might be holding the hostage you’re hoping to rescue. Adding to the confusion, the Girls never, at any point in the scene, try in any way to ascertain whether Jack is being held there. They just open fire, kill a bunch of dudes, and drive away. Well, maybe it was ‘women’s intuition.’
We cut to the Girls reentering their hotel room. Not only are they again in uniform and carrying their rifles, but they’re whooping it up in the hallway before they even open the door to their suite. Man, it’s pretty lucky that no one stuck their head out of another room to see what was happening. Otherwise, the team’s, uh, carefully maintained cover might have been blown. Again, guns are tossed down anywhere convenient, and within about twenty seconds, everyone’s piled into the tub. Except for Jan, who’s standing in the background. This allows those who still care at this point to get yet another look at her boobs.
The camera keeps cutting to the phone (I guess it’s supposed to be humorous that the phone always rings when they’re in the tub. But ‘humorous’ isn’t quite the word I’m thinking ofâ€¦’Boring?’ ‘Stupid?’ ‘Monotonous?’). But, of course, it’s not until Jan actually moves into the foreground for a much clearer breast shot, and is actually halfway into the tub, that the phone rings. Hey, here’s an idea: Move the damn phone over by the tub, you morons!
Jan picks up the phone and starts complaining. “Look,” she gripes, “We’ve raided and killed dozens of Arabs, and none of them seem to be terrorists! Nor do they have any idea of where Stewart’s son is.” This raises a couple of obvious questions. First, what does the phrase, “seem to be terrorists” mean? Their victims were bands of men armed with military rifles, dressed in camouflage fatigues and stationed in fortresses and camps. So either they were, in fact, terrorists, or else they were members of the military of whatever country this movie’s supposed to be taking place in. What other possibilities are there? I don’t think that the Middle East has a particularly big survivalist movement.
And frankly, you’d think there’d be a little more of a fuss going on if, for example, Syria learned that someone was going around knocking out their Army posts and massacring their soldiers. And why is the team so giddily wiping out dozens of men if they aren’t even sure that they represent legitimate targets. Even if they’re just following orders, you’d think they’d be a little more somber about it, rather than giggling in the tub about all the corpses they left behind. Gee, that was fun, giggle giggle. Yeah, I just hope all those people we blew away were bad guys. Tee Hee.
And then there’s the ‘none of them have any idea where Stewart’s son is’ statement. Well, probably not, considering that they’re, you know, dead and all. But even ignoring the inexplicable present tense aspect of Jan’s statement, you have to wonder at the fact that a) you probably won’t find out what people actually know unless you ask them before you shoot them, and b) maybe you guys should have searched the fortress and the camp for signs of Jack after killing everyone. I mean, we know that Jan’s right, but we’ve been watching the rest of the movie, whereas, presumably, Jan and the Girls haven’t.
We cut to the Girls, er, performing (believe me, dancing isn’t quite the right word) at a club of some sort. This is their ‘cover,’ remember? The whole reason that Jim hired Las Vegas Showgirls in the first place? Anyway, this sets up an excruciating ‘comedy relief’ situation, that continues on well past the point of any conceivable audience interest, such as it may be. This ‘hilarious’ bit revolves around the American owner of the club.
OK, hold your sides, because here it comes: See, the American Owner wanders around talking to his customers, speaking in a cheerful tone, but actually saying insulting things to them. Because, you see, they don’t speak English! Get it?! It’s like, they hear the cheerful tone of his voice, and so they think that he’s chatting pleasantly with them, but in fact, he’s insulting them! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
But wait, there’s more! Because, (OK, try to catch your breath) you see, the Arab customers are doing the exact same thing!! Through the brilliant technique of subtitles, we see that the so called friendly remarks that they are making back to the owner are actually insults themselves. Ah, the tears! Whew, boy, let me collect myself here. Oh, my facial muscles are aching. OK, OK, I think I’m ready to go on now.
As the for act, I know that this will be hard to believe, but if anything, the ‘actresses’ here are more believable as hard fighting Commandos than they are as dancers. I mean, they stick them on this dinky little stage, to explain why they don’t move around much during their routine (a term which is all too generous in a number of contexts). But they can’t even synchronize raising their arms in the air. It’s like a dancing version of one of those roundelay songs, like “Row Your Boat.” Only then, everybody staggers their performance on purpose. (Although I admit, the phrase ‘staggers their performance’ does seem quite apropos here.)
The editor tries to ‘disguise’ the Girls’ hoofing disabilities by cutting to close-ups of individual girls and by cutting away to the audience for large chunks of time. Said audience responds to the end of the number by tossing coins up on stage. These were presumably being saved for street beggars, but given instead to our heroines, due to their obviously greater need for charity.
But the film still has the power to surprise us. For we see the Girls returning to their hotel suite, yet against all expectations, they don’t end up in the tub! In fact, we don’t even see Jan’s naked breasts again before the next scene! It’s like they rang Pavlov’s dogs’ bell, but didn’t give them anything to eat. Instead, they get a phone call for an immediate mission just as they enter their room, and we immediately cut to another ‘riding across the desert’ scene. But in a daring artistic gambit, this one is shot through a low-light filter, creating a ‘day-for-night’ effect. Auteur! Auteur!
Then, and I’m not making this up, it’s like they realized their mistake. For after about half a minute’s worth of ‘driving’ shots, they just cut to the Girls back, yes!, in the bathtub! It’s like even the filmmakers have realized how repetitive the sequences have become, and just said, ‘Ah, screw it, like we need to make the movie five minutes longer. Everybody will know what happened.’ For which, I guess, we should be grateful. Still, why not follow this logic to its obvious conclusion and just end the movie here. Oh. Because then we’d never find out what happened to Jack. And the, uhâ€¦oh, yeah! The Superâ€¦no, wait,â€¦oh, that’s right, Ultra-Neutron Bomb. Right. Yeah. Boy. Wouldn’t want to live our lives with that mystery hanging over our heads. Nope. No sir. Uh-uh.
The Girls sit in their bubble bath, drinking Champaign and singing their little “Hell Squad” cadence, lending further evidence to my theory that this was probably the film’s original title. Although Nine Girls In a Bathtub, Over and Over Again would be, if anything, more appropriate. Needless to say, at this the phone (which has still been left across the room from the tub) rings again. This time, in an odd shot, we see the person (sorta) who gives the team their instructions. It’s clearly a woman’s face, partially obscured so that we can’t see who it is (Hmm, could it be Anna, Stewart’s secretary, who’s pretty much the only other woman character in the film so far?). Even more oddly, the woman’s face is speaking with a deep, man’s voice. This could be a clue of some sort. Or, given the quality of the film, it could just be another technical screw-up.
Soon the Girls are driving their jeeps. (Are you starting to pick up on a certain pattern here?) And again, I swear, they just end up back in their rooms. In case you’re wondering why they keep skipping the ‘battle’ scenes, well, they’re just so much more expensive to shoot than scenes of the Girls lounging in the tub. I mean, you can shoot all the driving scenes in one group. And you can also do all the ‘relaxing in the tub’ shots in a row. But the battle scenes require hiring extra actors, and driving to a location of some sort, and, well, who needs the hassle? And it’s not like we’re going to be any more (or less) bored by skipping the scenes. Hell, why not put the girls in the tub for ninety minutes, let the camera run, and save us all the painful charade that there’s a movie going on here?
Amazingly, something different from the in the tub-phone rings-drive to the assignment-kill some people-drive back-enter the suite-in the tub-phone rings, etc., routine now happens. Experienced Bad Movie buffs will recognize this as evidence that we’re finally heading towards the wrap-up of the movie. This can still take awhile, but at least we see a faint light at the end of the tunnel.
The Girls are sleeping (on the couch, on the floor, three in the bed like Moe, Larry and Curly, whatever) when suddenly we see that bad guys have infiltrated their hotel suite. Apparently, our ‘trained Commandos’ not only failed to establish a watch, but even neglected to slide a chair under the doorknob of their room. Soon, Our Heroines, all in their teddies and underwear and such, have been captured.
We next see the Girls chained up in a cell that looks, uh, rather similar to Jack’s cell. Hmm, both Jack’s and the Girls’ captors must have had the same General Contractor construct their dungeons, considering how much they look alike and all. But this can’t be the same cell as Jack’s, because it’s lit better. (Hey, unless that’s some kind of cinematic wizardry to throw us off the scentâ€¦) The Girls are being interrogated by a Sheik and a couple of guards. These three gentlemen are attired in costumes that appear to have been borrowed from a bad community theater production of Kismet. Cheesy ‘Arab’ music in the background completes the effect. All they forgot was a flying carpet and a snake in a wicker basket.
Also, let me point out that fame is a relative commodity. For instance, the fellow playing the Sheik here, Marvin Miller, gets as special “â€¦as The Sheik” credit. Usually, this indicates the presence of a ‘special’ guest star. What makes Mr. Miller so noteworthy? Well (according to the Internet Movie Database), he’s appeared in more than one film, so that distinguishes him from anyone else appearing here. Still, despite credits going back to the 1950s, Mr. Miller’s biggest fame seems to emanate from the fact that he provided the voice for Robby the Robot in the classic Forbidden Planet, as well as in The Invisible Boy. Wow! How did they manage to get this mega-star to appear here? (I guess that Paul Frees wasn’t available.)
Somehow, and this of course makes no sense, the Sheik has figured out that they’re more than dancers (actually, less than dancers would be more accurate). However, he oddly accuses them of being spies, not mentioning the numerous bases that have been wiped out. My theory is that he just likes chaining up chicks in their underwear, and their whole ‘Hell Squad’ identity is merely a coincidence.
To get them to talk, the Sheik has a guard walk into the cell with a tiger (!). And I thought Yellow Submarine was non-linear! They dub in a couple of ferocious snarls for effect, but the tiger is obviously tame. After being led around the room, he docilely lies down on the floor, no doubt waiting for someone to scratch his belly. The Girls, meanwhile, react with all the abject horror of someone who’s seen a mouse skitter across the floor.
The Sheik orders Jan unshackled, presumably so as to be fed to the tiger. The Sheik informs them that the tiger is only fed once a week. Presumably, we’re to believe that this obviously well fed and groomed cat is starving, awaiting only its master’s signal to strip our heroines of their flesh. Again, though, they ruin the effect by cutting to close-ups of the placid beast, who looks like he’s wondering where his rubber mousy is.
The Girls try to keep up the ‘showgirls’ act, compromising its believability when a couple of them pretend to ‘dance.’ The Sheik responds by blowing his line, saying again, “I don’t believe that you’re only dancers,” when he obviously means, “No one could possibly believe that you’re dancers.” The Sheik finally gets around to accusing them of killing “several of my men,” which seems rather an understatement. One Girl tries to deny their identity by replying, “Do we look like Commandos? Do we have guns?” Considering how they always left them lying around, I’m surprised that their abductors didn’t trip over them during the kidnapping. And while it’s a little late to point this out, we never saw anything to indicate that they cleaned their notoriously finicky M16s after any of their firefights. Those things must have been jamming like crazy in the end there.
Anyway, in a bit that’s right out of a Three Stooges short, we see the Sheik repeatedly stamping his foot on the floor, narrowly missing the (obviously bogus) swishing tail of the tiger. Gee, where is this going? Sure enough, he steps on it, and ends up being severely licked, er, mauled by the tiger. Jan takes advantage of the, *yawn*, ‘confusion,’ and frees the other Girls. A little Vague Fu and their escape is complete. This is probably the most obviously bogus fighting of the film, and the blows that miss their targets by three inches fly thick. In a favorite moment, One of the Girls turns a guy’s head about two inches to the left, while a dubbed in ‘krick’ noise cues us that she somehow broke the guy’s neck by turning the his head about one half of its normal range of motion.
The Girls order the Sheik (or the stuntman now playing him, whose face must be rather gooey with tiger saliva by now) to tell them where Jack is being held. He tells them the name of Jack’s captor. Pretty convenient that he even knew, huh? After getting the info, the girls laugh and leave the guy to a horrible death. Ah, good times.
Apparently, the Sheik and the four guards we saw were the only staff in his castle, for we next see the Girls walking through the desert, still in their nightclothes. Gee, maybe they should have commandeered a truck or something. The Girls whine a little about having no water (see note about commandeering truck), but nobody mentions the fact that, given their white skin and negligible clothing, they’ll bake to death well before thirst does them in. In fact, even though they’ve presumably been walking for some time (as we see no sign of the Sheik’s castle anywhere), and while barefooted too, I might add, their lips aren’t even cracked. Anyway, long scene short (actually, long, long, long, stupid, boring, stupid scene short), a guy just happens to show up with camels, and they’re saved. Man, what an ingenious escape. The scriptwriter really earned his pay on that one.
Actually, it’s even more stupid. After cadging a few sips of water from the guy (and complaining that it’s warm!), they decide that going with him would be impractical (!), and let him wander back off! Then, three seconds after that happens, a flatbed truck drives up. Again, this is all occurring in the middle of the desert! Still, that truck looks kind of uncomfortable. I think I’d just wait a minute and catch one of those air-conditioned touring buses. I’m sure one will be around any minute now. But then, I’m not a rough ‘n’ tough Commando. They hop right aboard, uncomfortable or not.
Since the end of the movie is in sight (if you’re Superman, anyway), the Girls no sooner enter their suite than the phone rings. It’s also time for the characters to finally start picking up on some of the film’s idiocies. So when Jan gets yet another call from the guy who’s sent them on umpteen useless missions, and proceeds to tell him about Jack’s reported location, One of the Other Girls has a thought (see, they are introducing new concepts into the movie).
“Do you think it’s safe telling this guy where Stewart’s son is?” she inquires. “What if he’s not on the level, and he’s using us to locate the son, so he can grab him?” You know, this is why super secret agent Jim might have wanted to set up a password or something, so that not just anybody could call in and send the Girls off murdering people. And if their mystery caller isn’t on the level, then isn’t Jim wondering by now what the hell the team’s up to? Presumably, he had things he wanted them to do, too.
With the question pretty much shoved in her face, Jan finally has a light bulb moment. “You’re right!” Jan shouts. “Then we better act fast!” Considering that not a one of them has tried acting at all up to now, you wonder what the hurry is. Oh. Unless they mean ‘act,’ as in ‘execute an action.’ OK, now I see what they’re getting at. So Jan rouses the Girls, who are all doing this ridiculous ‘sleepyhead’ routine. Told that the captor’s castle is on a lake, the Girls break out the snorkeling gear they conveniently brought with them. Uh, did we miss the ‘frogman’ portion of their training, or was that when they jumped over that puddle? Jan even walks into the foreground of the shot and reappears with a spear gun (!). I guess that they just left them sitting out on a coffee table or something.
Just to reassure those audience members who feel that things are moving a bit too quickly (although I’m not sure who that might be), the filmmakers start the scene off with a familiar ‘driving through the desert’ shot. But get this: Since they believe that there’ll be swimming to do once they arrive, they drive out to the Castle in their swimsuits! Did the filmmakers have any idea how far apart things in the desert areas of the Middle East are? These aren’t ten minute drives that we’re talking about here. Is it really a good idea to drive for hours on end across the desert attired only in a bikini?
This scene is capped off with a short (in actual terms; in relative terms it seemed to last about 40 minutes) bit where the Girls stop in the desert to complain because they’re lost. One gets the idea that perhaps the ‘zingers’ on display here were, uh, adlibbed rather than scripted. In fact, this is probably true of all the bathtub scenes, and much of the rest of the film as well. In my review of The Harrad Experiment, I mentioned how excruciating it was watching the ‘comedy’ of the Ace Trucking Company, the real life professional ‘improv group’ featured in that film. Now, admittedly, non-professional improv isn’t much worse than professional improv. By which I mean they both really, really suck. ‘Improv,’ when you think about it, is sort of the verbal counterpart to Mime.
After some more insert shots (close-ups taken while pretending to drive, to be intercut with the actual ‘driving’ footage shot on location), showcasing our heroines in their various skimpy finery, the Girls spot the lake. They very slowly and awkwardly drive (Ever see someone driving stick who doesn’t know how? Like that.) around the perimeter of the lake, until they reach the spot to disembark. Looking up, we cut to, and this is one of the silliest things I’ve ever seen, a stock footage shot of a medieval European castle (!!!!!). This sits high upon a hill, and in no way looks like it’s surrounded by a lake. In fact, it looks more like it should be surrounded by several hundred miles of Europe.
Now, when your main characters are swimming across a body of water because it ‘surrounds’ their objective, it’s best to place the camera somewhere where it isn’t apparent that the water is, in fact, bordered on three sides by land. In other words, we can tell that, had the Girls gone about twenty yards to their right, they could have walked to the Castle. But then, of course, there would have been no reason to stick them into their swimsuits. Not that they couldn’t have swum across the mighty thirty foot expanse in their Commando outfits, anyway. Even swimming at an angle so as to maximize the distance, they don’t appear to swim much farther than a lap in a standard Olympic pool. Also, isn’t snorkel gear a little pointless for people who are swimming on the surface of the water?
Realizing that their audience no longer cares about picayune details (assuming it ever did), the filmmakers don’t even bother showing the Girls finding an entrance to the Castle. Nope, one second they’re climbing out of the water, the next they’re crawling, completely dry (hair and all), through some stone air ducts, or tunnels, or something. They are still armed, of course, with spear guns. You know, even if you were worried about getting your ‘Commando’ rifles wet, you always could have wrapped them in plastic while you were in the water. Instead, they’re all carrying spear guns, holding one spear each, and while awkwardly clambering on their hands and knees, single file, through a two foot high duct. You get the idea that half of them will likely emerge with a spear sticking in their ass.
We cut to Jack’s cell, where both he and his compatriot look exactly the same as they did ‘two weeks ago.’ The sharp-eyed viewer will also notice the ‘background’ lighting suddenly change. This is because someone noticed that the scene was lit too darkly, and moved a filter so as to increase the amount of lighting that the shot was getting. Meanwhile, the Girls are still crawling through the ducts. And I have to say, it looks like it must have been mighty uncomfortable, given that the actresses don’t have any padding on their elbows and knees. Between this and the ‘standing in the desert in their underwear’ shots, one gets the idea that they all earned whatever pittance they were getting paid, lack of acting talent or not.
Finally, the Girls emerge from the duct. This is a less than smooth transition, as we don’t actually see them leave it. Instead, they are suddenly in a regular room. The girls crawl for a bit and then stand up, as it they had suddenly come to the end of the duct. But you can tell what’s happening. Amazingly, if not surprisingly, the ‘duct’ just happens to end right in the area of Jack’s cell. Boy, that’s a stroke of luck. Especially since, given the stock shot seen earlier, this Castle is just gigantic (and in Europe). It’s like you entered a five hundred room hotel, walked around awhile before approaching a room at random, and it turns out to be the one you want.
The Girls approach two guards standing by the door to Jack’s Cell. (It’s uncanny! It’s like they knew exactly where they were going!) One of the Girl’s winks at the others behind her, raises her spear gun, and impales both guards with one shot. Now, there are a couple of problems with this. First of all, although they ‘disguise’ this by showing the Girl and her targets in separate shots, she would have had to been standing in a straight line from them, right in their line of sight. And given the extremely bright lighting in this shot (this is apparently one of those European Mid-Eastern Castles that comes equipped with fluorescent lighting), there’s just no way that they wouldn’t have ‘noticed’ her.
Secondly, spear guns are ‘powered’ by what are basically very big rubber bands. It seems extremely unlikely that this would provide the power needed to transfix the torsos of two grown men. On top of that, the spears featured here have trident heads. In other words, heads designed to enter the target and remain in place. A spear head designed for penetration would sport a very flat and very sharp ‘arrow head’ shape, to create as little resistance and dissipate as little energy as possible.
The Girls enter Jack’s cell and grab him. His roommate, however, well, he didn’t make it. Man. Gimme a minute here, would you? OK, you want to know the definition of ‘minimalist filmmaking’? How about this? One second the Girls are trying to get Jack on his feet, the next, they’re out of the Castle entirely, running (yes) across the desert. Boy, and to think that they wasted the title The Great Escape on another movie. There’s no justice.
They reach the water where they left it (you know, near the part that they could walk around.) Hey, how is Jack going to get across? He doesn’t even have a swimsuit, much less snorkeling equipment. Meanwhile, One of the Girls is creating a trail of gas from a gas can. (Where the hell did they get that?!) Given the way she’s spewing fuel, this trail couldn’t last more than ten feet, but I guess that we’re just supposed to accept that it leads all the way to the Castle. Which, considering that it’s in Europe, is quite a distance.
Also, aren’t Castles made of stone? Stone being, as I recall, not being particularly flammable. And how much fuel could she have tossed around from a five gallon gas can and still left enough to leave a trail leading all the way to the lake? And, not to be picky, but where does she get the book of matches she produces to light the fire with? Anyway, she lights the little trail of gasoline she made, and we again cut to that shot of the gigantic Castle sitting way, way up on a hill. This gas trail would have to be at least half a mile long to stretch the distance shown here.
I guess I was wrong about the Castle being composed of stone. Apparently, it was built with bricks made from compressed rocket fuel. Or maybe the gas can was full of atomic gasoline or something. Because the lit gas trail results in what seems to a rather inordinately large explosion. In fact, if it were actually as big as shown, it seems improbable that Our Heroines would escape being flash fried, or, at the very least, having their eardrums blown out. Instead, they cheer excitedly (much as if their high school football team had made a field goal to win the game in the fourth quarter), re-don their snorkeling gear, and head back across the ten yards of water separating them from their jeeps.
Meanwhile, connoisseurs of classic stock footage shots are in for a treat. For right after Atom Bomb stock footage and the ‘finned lizards and baby alligators disguised as dinosaurs’ shots taken from One Million B.C., no single stock footage elements have been recycled more often than the ‘burning building’ shots from Roger Corman’s Fall of the House of Usher. While this was largely due to the thrifty Mr. Corman himself, they also appear in numerous other flicks. Including, now, this one. Of course, the Usher mansion in no way resembles the Castle shown to us here. And the outside shot reflects the fact that the Usher mansion was destroyed under an ominously cloudy sky, while here we’re supposed to be in a starkly sunlit desert. But what do you want?
Amazingly, and none too believably, one Arab dude lives just long enough to radio in that the Girls are headed to the Airport. How could he possibly know that? In fact, considering that the team just walked in and out without any shown resistance, we’ve seen nothing to indicate that anyone was even aware of their presence. This guy shouldn’t have any idea why the Castle blew up, much less know where the Girls are headed.
The ‘airport’ turns out to be a road with a small private plane on it. This sets up the ‘action’ climax. The Girls arrive just as their escape plane is taking off (there was a lame ‘against the clock’ thing set up earlier, but I didn’t bother to mention it). Echoing the endings of both MegaForce and Delta Force (hmm, Delta Forceâ€¦), the Girls awkwardly clamber from their jeeps into the taxiing plane, while being fired upon by pursuers. In fact, it’s not even that exciting. One moment the Girls are in their jeeps chasing the plane, the next they’re jogging alongside it. The only ‘suspense’ here is whether the plane’s engine will stall from being held to such low speed. Yet we’re to believe that the car of pursuers doesn’t manage to catch up with them and cut them off, or even manage to hit the plane or the nine Girls jogging next to it. They really drag this bit out. Finally, however, all the Girls, along with Jack, have clumsily made it into the plane, and they fly off to boredom. Er, freedom.
Cut to later. Anna, Stewart’s secretary, phones in to let him, Jack and Jim know that the Girls have arrived to collect their pay. And I am happy to say, now occurs the kind of stuff that makes Bad Movie buffs warm with bliss. For over both Anna, and Stewart during the cutaways, boom microphones are quite noticeably hanging into the shots. Bad Movie fans feel lucky if they can spot the boom mike’s shadow, or see it reflected in a window or mirror. To actually see it dip into shot, not just on one set but immediately on the next as well, is to achieve Bad Movie nirvana.
Jan, however, feels that their job isn’t yet complete. “Didn’t you wonder,” she asks, “how the terrorists knew every step we made?” Well, no. But that’s because we never saw anything to indicate that the terrorist did know your every step. Still, we’re willing to go along with you, if only to get the movie over with. Anyway, nothing here makes any sense, but the idea is that there’s an “enemy agent” in their midst, who was behind the kidnapping in the first place. Both Stewart and Jack pooh-pooh Jan’s theory. Apparently, the fact that someone unconnected with their mission kept sending them out to kill “innocent” Arabs isn’t enough to make them buy into it. Then, in a moment right out of Scooby Doo, Jan decks Anna and pulls off her rubber mask and wig. Hey, it’s Old Man Phillips, Caretaker of the deserted Amusement Park! Oh, actually it’s an enemy agent. And it turns out, that’s right, that “She’s a man, baby!” Yep, when you take the mask off, Anna’s whole body shape, height and weight changes, and she proves to be a guy.
Jan then has a little Charlie Chan moment, explaining to the assembled suspects how she fingered Anna as the spy. It turns out that the final clue came when she entered the Lady’s Room after ‘Anna’ had left it. You see, Anna had to be a man in disguise, because (wait for it!) ‘she’ left the toilet seat up! I think this is supposed to be funny. Orâ€¦something. Then everybody heads out for dinner, while Jan blows off a romantically fumbling Jim. And so ends our movie.
Ah. Good times!
This week on “Inexplicably Humorous Non Sequitur Theatre,” the Girls receive instructions as they begin the training phase of their assignment:
Sgt. Hearth: “We’re going to move down to the Obstacle Course now. When I blow this whistle, I want you to move through this course as if you were going through a minefield. Imagine if those tires were mines, and if you touched one of them, you’d could lose both legs.”
Large Breasted Comedy Relief Woman, in a sexy voice: “This guy’s got a fertile imagination!”
(All the girls laugh heartily.)
“Inexplicably Humorous Non Sequitur Theatre” continues:
Large Breasted Comedy Relief Woman, wearing a revealing bikini, in a sexy voice: “I always serve a useful purpose.”
Wry responder, apparently in some way referring to LBCRW’s breasts: “Yeah, a couple of ’em!”
(All the girls laugh heartily.)
“Inexplicably Humorous Non Sequitur Theatre” isn’t over yet:
Large Breasted Comedy Relief Woman, learning that she hasn’t been chosen for the mission, as the camera zooms in on her breasts: “I can’t understand why they passed me by!”
Another Girl, sarcastically, while staring at those breasts: “Neither can I, Mary, neither can I!”