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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Reel Bad Cinema: Kill Squad (1982) review



This section is devoted to rare, obscure and 'as yet to be released on legitimate DVD' movies. Some films may have been released in some part of the world, or on some public domain label, or some may have simply never been released at all on the digital format. This section is designed to keep these films alive and to provide remembrance to those who may have seen them in some form or other, whether it be on the silver screen, video tape, or the small screen at home.


Jeff Risk (Joseph), Jean Glaude (Larry), Jerry Johnson (K.C.), Francisco Ramirez (Pete), Gary Fung (Tommy), Bill Cambra (Alan), Marc Sabin (Arthur), Cameron Mitchell (Dutch)

Directed by Patrick G. Donahue

"Joseph needs you."

Refusing to sell his electronics company co-owned with his wife, some thugs break into Joseph's house and shoot him. Turning their attentions to his wife, Joanna, the killers rape and murder her and leave Joseph for dead. Surviving the ordeal, but now a cripple, Joseph decides to recruit his Vietnam buddies and go after the goons that killed his wife.

Every once in a while a film comes along that is so atrocious, so devoid of any sense of logic or artistic integrity, you can't help but love it for its absurdities. KILL SQUAD is one such film. Rarely has a picture reached beyond the upper echeleon shared by films such as PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1956), ROBOT MONSTER (1953), MYRA BRECKINRIDGE (1970) or JAWS: THE REVENGE (1987) to name a few other turkeys. None of those mentioned come even remotely close to matching the sheer rancid spectacle of Patrick Donahue's motion picture.

KILL SQUAD (1982) is one of the most outrageously awful, yet side splittingly hilarious movies you will ever see. It's difficult to surmise if the whole production was envisioned to be this jaw smackingly dreadful. What is supposed to be a serious action film turns into one of the most incredibly funny, unintentional comedies ever to stain a movie screen. Honestly, enough cannot be said in KILL SQUAD's favor. It's a truly memorable cinematic experience. Seldom has a bad film ever played out so immeasurably entertaining as this one.

There's really no plot to speak of, and what little there is makes absolutely no sense by the time the big twist is revealed at the end. Aside from the endless hilarity, Patrick Donahue's movie is loaded down with some of the worst kung fu fight sequences ever filmed. Some of them actually appear pretty well designed for an American feature, but the way in which they are handled, and the individuals pulling off the moves make them look incredibly ridiculous. If you've seen DOLEMITE (1975), than you will have some idea of what I'm talking about here.

There's nothing to say about anybody's performance as people can't stop fighting long enough to build upon a character, and even if they did, the script gives them nothing interesting to say; the dialog being so terrible it adds to the whole badness of the film. To go into detail about everything that's lovingly abysmal about KILL SQUAD (1982) would require a lot of time and readers probably wouldn't believe it anyway. I'll just cover a handful of them.

In the world this film occupies, everybody is truly 'Kung Fu Fighting'. Whether it's a construction worker, used car salesman, factory worker, or even a woman bathing poolside in a bikini, everyone seemingly knows kung fu including the people that instantly jump in to aid whomever it is the Kill Squad is questioning. It gets hysterical after awhile as a fight breaks out literally every few minutes. When the Squad goes out to find leads, you can be assured that wherever they go, a brawl is gonna take place and all the performers onscreen, both male and female, know martial arts.

What adds an even greater appreciation for the absurdity of the action scenes are the Bruce Lee sound effects added to the punches and kicks. The filmmakers even had the audacity to insert Bruce Lee's yelps when the heroes are kicking a lot of ass. There are also some impressive car stunts, but like the laughable notion that everybody in California (where this was shot) knows kung fu, the way the car stunts are pulled off are likewise a rib tickler. One scene has two cars at a stop light placed close to each other hiding a ramp behind them. This enables the stuntman to jump both cars and crash to the concrete below. There's also a gratuitous car explosion for no other reason than to blow one up.

The first instance that lets you know you're in for an awfully good 'bad' time, is at the beginning when two of the bad guys peek through a window to get a look at Joseph's wife having a drink. The only problem with this is that the window is covered by curtains so it isn't made clear whether they are admiring the tailorship of the window dressings, or possess some kind of enhanced vision enabling them to see past the curtains. This is also where the first badly choreographed fight scene takes place and the moment that Joseph is shot by Dutch and his wife raped and killed by his men.

This, you would think, would be the basis for the movie; that Joseph would get his war pals together for revenge...but you would be wrong. This movies flimsy excuse for a plot takes a complete and utterly stupid turn later in the picture.

Larry goes to the hospital to bring Joseph home where he promptly instructs him to, "Assemble the squad." Larry does so and we are treated to five increasingly inept sequences wherein we meet the five guys Larry is sent out to recruit for Joseph's ham-fisted "mission". We meet the first guy, a huge musclebound fellow named Alan chasing a bunch of guy out of a building as they hurriedly dash inside a car.

Now, forgiving for a brief moment that not only can you see the film crew in the windows of the car, but you also get a gander at a crew member sitting crouched on the other side of the vehicle. Alan then proceeds to rip the hood off of the car, then punching through a window and finally ripping a car door off its hinges. A wide shot then reveals that this car has no engine so where these goofs were planning on going is anyone's guess. Alan then explains to Larry that all this was over one dollar!

In what has to be one of the most irrefutably ridiculous moments in KILL SQUAD (and the history of film), two construction workers push another worker off the top of a building from over 50 feet up. The poor sap crashes onto the hood of a car below. The reason for this is almost as dumb as what happens next. The two men run downstairs to inspect the scene, yet none of the other workers bothers to stop what they are doing and simply carry on as if nothing has happened. When the two guys emerge from the building, they find their victim has disappeared! He stands behind them unscathed from more than a four story drop without bruises or broken bones and says without any pause, "Hey, lookin' for me?"

Pete, the name of the man with a skeletal system apparently made of Adamantium, proceeds to beat the two men to a pulp. The jaw dropping moments continue when Pete is then attacked by all the construction workers(!) and then he summarily kicks their asses, too. This is then followed by the other squad members approaching and having a brief laugh just as Larry says the immortal, and oft repeated line, "Joseph needs you," to which the merry men take off to find the last of the group, a salesman named Arthur. Of course, like every other scene in the movie, this leads to yet another hilarious fight scene.

Bringing the five guys back to Joseph's home, he has them all display their "skill" in one of the funniest scenes ever in a non comedy picture. Pete is especially uproarious with his two nunchucku style which sees him swing the weapons wildly around his body making sure to not get them too close to his person. This scene is made all the more idiotic in that throughout the remainder of the film, the squad (aside from one brief moment) never once uses their weapons of choice.

It is also here that the plot is further enhanced when Larry delivers this surprising revelation in regards to Joseph's crippling and his wife's murder, "We think one of the larger electronics corporations is behind this. We overheard the killers call their leader...Dutch." What makes this most surprising is that Larry specifies 'We', which is impossible as Larry was nowhere around when the assault took place.

Within minutes, the squad are off on their mission to beat the hell out of as many people as they possibly can in the films brief 81 (not counting the end credits) minute running time. Also, after every fight scene (from this point on), a mysterious character with a scope begins picking off squad members one at the time. Probably the most laughable fight occurs around an hour into the picture when Arthur and Tommy go to a used car lot to look up a lead. When it appears they aren't buying a car, a cadre of kung fu fightin' used car salesmen erupt on the scene with fists and feet flying in all directions. This then leads to the above described nonsensical car chase sequence.

Eventually all the squad members are killed save for Larry. After a scuffle with the masked hitman, Larry manages to unmask him, but is knocked unconscious before he can lay his eyes on him. We don't see his face, either, but considering how lazily written this hodgepodge of hokeyness is, it wouldn't be too hard to figure out the identity of the assassin. What is hard to guess is the why. Anyway, before that, Larry takes off to finally meet up with Dutch, who is supposed to be some kind of a big crime boss. You would never know as when Larry arrives, Dutch is having a big cook out with a bunch of friends. Larry whips everybody at the party including some bikini babes who also know kung fu. He then settles things with Dutch just prior to his second duel with the masked assassin.

Earlier, Arthur was supposedly killed by the hitman's rifle, but he shows up here sporting the most unsafe bullet proof vest of all time. Then, the assassin pulls a samurai sword out of thin air and slices Arthur up. Larry comes to and beats the tar out of the masked man. Revealed to be Joseph(!), we get a truly lame ass excuse for wasting the audiences' time with everything that has transpired. Apparently, Joseph blames his squad for losing his leg(!) in 'Nam, and wanted to see them die for it. Killing his wife was also part of his plan to take hold of the frequently talked about, "Electronics Corporation."

Not only that, but once Joseph has been unmasked, his face has been made up with shoe polish to act as bruises and white squares are painted on his lips to imply his teeth have been knocked out! This would be only marginally less laughable if the actor playing Joseph, Jeff Risk, didn't pull his lips back showing off his mouth full of pearly whites. Larry finally puts Joseph out of his misery and Arthur seems to die for real this time. But then, in yet another startling scene, as Larry walks away, Arthur is playing possum for the third time(!) Larry and Arthur both walk off into the sunset as this corrosive cinematic conundrum comes to an end.

Cameron Mitchell is on hand for about 5 minutes total in what must have been a favor owed to a friend. He plays the main villain, Dutch. Mitchell had a promising, yet enigmatic career. He appeared in just about everything. He did a lot of work on television especially on western tv programs like THE HIGH CHAPARRAL (1967-1971) and various appearances on other shows such as GUNSMOKE and BONANZA among them.

Amazingly, Mitchell has also headlined, or played supporting roles in peplums (CAESAR, THE CONQUEROR 1962), spaghetti westerns (MINNESOTA CLAY 1964), giallo's (BLOOD & BLACK LACE 1964), drive in horrors (MANEATERS OF HYDRA 1967, NIGHTMARE IN WAX 1969) and dozens upon dozens of trashy movies like THE KLANSMAN (1974), THE TOOLBOX MURDERS (1978), THE SWARM (1978) and the fan favorite Z grade sci fi pseudo slasher, WITHOUT WARNING (1980).

Some additional "low-lights" of KILL SQUAD (1982) are--

--the first fight scene where the guy shoots his own foot off in a manner that would win him a spot on the 'World's Dumbest Criminals'.

--the bit where the squad are showing off their "skills" and Arthur rips his camouflage away to reveal a Bruce Lee shirt. Joseph smiles and says, "Still the squad clown, huh, Arthur?"

--then there's the bit where Larry demonstrates his skill by throwing a shuriken that's accompanied by cartoon sound effects heard on every single one of the Road Runner cartoon.

--the Mexican character who goes, "Son of a Beeeech!"

--then there's the line regarding one of the squads leads, Virgil, that he "lives on an abandoned ranch with about 8 cowboy types," despite the ranch holding a number of horses and what looks like at least 30 people or more.

--Despite all the post synced dialog, a big boom mike makes a cameo during Arthur's first appearance.

--the scene at the end when Larry crashes Dutch's cook out and kicks and punches everybody into the pool. As each person hits the water, they just sit there afloat watching and waiting for the scene to end.

I can't reiterate enough just how amazingly bad, yet mesmerizingly alluring this movie is. It was supposed to have come out on DVD from Code Red, but due to problems with the rights owner, it doesn't appear likely at this time. It's definitely one of a kind and comes with the highest recommendation. If you can't appreciate good trash, then you will most likely not get anything out of KILL SQUAD (1982) except a terrible headache or maybe even a bad case of diarrhea. Nonetheless, it's one of the most entertainingly mirthful, unintentionally funny "comedies" you will ever lay your eyes on.

This DVD-R can be purchased at


TheReverendDoom said...

I need to see this movie!

venoms5 said...

This one never gets old! Me and some friends watched it again last night. It's truly a one of a kind experience. I don't think they make them (lovingly bad) like this anymore.

TheReverendDoom said...

I love awful movies (ones that have comedic value). This sounds like they need to release a 3 disc SE soon! LOL

venoms5 said...

I got mine here Rev...

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