Hell Squad (1986)

Hi everyone, Nate here. Trolling Youtube again this weekend I stumbled upon this turgid little film, lurking in the dark recesses where the cockroaches and spiders hold court, and I just knew you‘d love it. It’s not that it’s bad, just totally, utterly useless. Let me explain.

As our film opens, in some unnamed Middle Eastern country (Syriana?), the whiney, prissy, privileged son of the American Ambassador gets himself kidnapped by some Arab terrorists. For some reason the US Gubbm’nt won’t get involved (what?) so the Ambassador and his leisure suit clad aide have to “work outside official channels” to get the kid back from the ruthless, bloodthirsty terrorists and their immaculately groomed mustaches.

Terrorists ambush his car.

So, of course, they gather up a team of hardened soldiers-for-hire, grizzled Vietnam vets, former CIA spooks, guys with rough hands and quick triggers, you know the type because you’ve seen all fifteen Expendables movies by now. Well, no, how about nine young women with absolutely zero military training who a week ago were Vegas showgirls? Yeah, that sounds infinitely better. On the plus side they can easily get into Syriana because their cover story is that they’re exotic dancers at a club (because there’s nothing a staunchly Islamic nation would encourage more than a bunch of sinful white American girls gyrating all over the Koran). A couple days of practice with some prop M-16s and the girls are fitted with matching outfits and set off to the Middle East.

Aim those downrange, please.

So the ladies rent a big room in a cheap hotel and in the evenings do dirty dancing things for rich oil sheiks and expat diplomats in the polyester and faux wood lounge. During the mornings, however, they take on dangerous missions to try and locate the Ambassador’s missing brat. These usually consist of ambushing Arab gunmen in camps and outposts and machinegunning them to death.

And never a hair out of place.

After each mission the girls all come back to the hotel and jump in this huge bathtub that just barely fits all nine of them. In there amongst the suds and bubbles they laugh and giggle and make lame jokes about murdering Arabs with high-powered weapons. The tub scenes, of course, are just an excuse to have pretty girls strip down and snuggle in shoulder-to-shoulder, but I‘m totally ok with that. I kept wondering why they couldn’t find a bigger tub, but there’s probably not to many tubs that could fit nine full-size women outside of Charlie Sheen’s penthouse suite.

Ladies in the tub.

Eventually they’re all captured by the eeeevil terrorist leader and are just about to be tortured with a tiger when they manage to escape. Yes, a real tiger, but a really sleepy, totally disinterested tiger. You can tell the animal wrangler on set was trying to hard it to roar or act menacing, but it really just wanted a nappy and a belly scratch. And in the end the tiger gets his nap because no one tells a 500 pound apex predator what to do.

Awww he’s so cute squee!

After some insipidly boring stuff, the kidnapped kid is found in a stock footage castle, accessible only through a deep lake (cue bikinis and spear guns!). The girls get him on a plane and back to safety without too much sweat. Some other stupid shit happens, the girls get their paychecks, and the movie ends.

And camels I want one!

Ok, so why is this movie so useless? Because in the end you can’t help but ask what was the purpose of this film being made in the first place. There’s absolutely no gore or graphic violence, so you’re not going to offend or shock your audience. There’s only one girl who takes her top off, the other eight never drift away from PG-13, so you’re not really trying to titillate or excite anyone. There’s also no Big Message, no strong statements about feminism or bigotry or sexism, it’s just pretty girls with guns reading from cue cards. Is there anything about the culture of Syriana or the people of the Middle East in general that is explored or exposed? No, they’re just cardboard cutouts who fall over when the girls shoot them. Is there any sort of social commentary on gender roles or reserve expectations for females in traditional male endeavors? No, just bouncing boobs and big hair (and machineguns). There’s nothing here that’s particularly groundbreaking or unique or memorable, it’s just kinda blandly entertaining in a “Yawn, I‘ve seen this before in every second episode of Charlie‘s Angels“ sorta way. The concept is ready-made for exploitative sex and violence, but it’s so tame you won‘t remember anything that happens in the film even before it ends. Where is John Waters when you need him?

Even girls in chains falls flat.

Some notes on the production. I hate to harp on this again, but I just can’t fathom that a movie as trashy as this one, featuring nine buxom babes, has so little nekkidness. What happened? Did the other eight refuse to sign the liability waivers? Or was there not supposed to be any boobs to begin with and that one actress decided that she was going to set the Twins free on her own? It just seems so odd that only one of the girls goes topless in this kind of crappy b-movie. Ed Wood wouldn’t stand for that.

Boobies in the mirror!

None of these actresses are Vegas showgirls as you would know them, perhaps club dancers at some no-name off-the-Strip casino, but not high level showgirls. These girls are week and fragile and can barely run in a straight line for more than ten seconds, true showgirls are amazingly strong and have incredible stamina and agility. Seriously, go watch a Vegas show, see how they wear those 50 pound headdresses while high-kicking nonstop for 45 minutes, showgirls are badass.

But they don’t ride jeeps in bikinis.

All movie long I figured the desert scenes were shot in Southern California or Nevada, but the closing credits tell me that a lot of location shooting took place in Jordan. Why there, who knows? Perhaps the director had some connections over there, weirder things have happened, but it just seems like a massive waste of money and time when the Mojave Desert an hour from LA looks just like the Middle East. The budget for Hell Squad couldn’t have been more than 50 grand, how much of that was spent on travel and lodging for no good reason. There’s also a note at the end of the credits thanking the Palestine Liberation Organization for providing soldiers and military equipment to the production staff! Was this movie filmed in the Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan? Seems that way.

Walking through the desert.

In one scene the girls assault a terrorist camp and commandeer an tank and blow shit up with it. The tank is a WWII vintage M-4 Sherman, a very early model without the HVSS suspension and mounting the base model 75mm short barrel cannon, a very, very, very rare old tank. And it runs! Where did this come from? Nothing I can find online says that Jordan received any Shermans, so maybe this scene was filmed somewhere here in America? Things like this keep me from sleeping at night.

Love the taped-on signs.

Anyway, stay away from Hell Squad, you’ll be disappointed in the action scenes and have very little to masturbate to.

The End.

Written in October 2014 by Nathan Decker.

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