Wednesday, May 28, 2014

MAY-DE TO BE MOCKED - Angels Brigade (1979)

 Note: Throughout the month of May I will be watching Mockbusters, those low-budget movies which are made purely to cash in on a recent successful blockbuster. I call this May-de to be Mocked!  

Angels Brigade (1979)
Director: Greydon Clark
Starring: Robin Greer, Susan Kiger, Jack Palance, Peter Lawford
Format: Streaming (Youtube)

Plot: Meet six women and a teenage girl who never expected to risk their lives fighting for justice. A schoolteacher had seen one too many kids succumb to drugs. A Las Vegas entertainer learned her brother had been beaten by a drug pusher. A martial arts teacher knew how insidious drugs were among children. A top model knew that drugs were destroying her life. A stunt driver was in shock when her brother overdosed  on drugs. Add a nosy schoolgirl and a policewoman and you've got the Angels Brigade who strike back against the evil fat cats pushing drugs to kids.

AKA Seven from Heaven, Angels Revenge

In the late 1970s Charlie's Angels ruled the TV screen, with it's lightweight tales of three beautiful women fighting the bad guys and solving crime, all the while striking poses in bikinis and perfectly-coifered hair. Sensing a chance to cash in on this, B-grade actor-turned-director Greydon Clark took this concept to the big screen.

But we all know that taking a TV show to the movie screen you need to make everything bigger. Charlie's Angels had three bimbo crimefighters? Well, let's double that! And then add one more! Yep let's have seven girls! And those TV Angels don't really cover the demographics very well, they're too white. So let's add in an Asian girl (a martial arts expert, naturally) and a black girl (a take-no-nonsense sassy stunt driver). The others can be a cop, a pop star, a schoolteacher, a slutty model… hell, let's throw in the cop's little sister to cover the teenage girl demographic!

Once our seven girls are assembled (rather briskly one must add, let's not let plot get in the way of things here), they soon target an assortment of drug pusher baddies. The big boss is ex-Rat Packer Peter Lawford (so sozzled he has to sit for most of his scenes), and his head henchman is scene-stealing bad guy par-excellence Jack Palance. Add in an abundance of machine-gun-toting, generic bad guys, and we're good to go.

Let's face it, you don't watch this kind of movie for the plot, dialogue or acting. Which is just as well, because all three are frankly awful.

Nobody behaves in the least bit logically. Two of the Angels break into a baddie compound and are walking out in the open when two baddies turn a corner. What do the girls do to avoid detection? They stand perfectly still, right out in the open, in daylight. And it works!

The lines are soap opera-level and except for some good supporting performances (from seasoned character actors like Palance, Jim Backus, Neville Brand and Pat Buttram), all of the acting from the lead bimbos is so bad it's unintentionally humourous. The worst perpetrator is the late Jacqueline Cole, who plays the schoolteacher. Her acting is so bad I looked up the credits to find out who she was sleeping with to get her (prominent) role. Sure enough, she was married to director Clark. Enough said.

But as I said, plot, dialogue and acting aren't overly important here. What really saves this movie is that everything is so corny, over-the-top and, well, "70s", that it gives it a certain charm. The lead girls are all attractive and it helps that they get to kick butt, even busting out a souped-up van full of hidden weapons that's like something out of an episode of the A-Team.

In fact, that's probably the best comparison I can make - Angels Revenge feels a lot like an extra-long episode of a Stephen J. Cannell TV show. I never really saw Charlie's Angels so can't compare there, but I grew up on 80s TV and this feels as fun and harmless as anything from The A-Team, Knight Rider or Macgyver.

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