[Archive] [Links] [Store] [Home]

e-mail:Smokey X. Digger

Terror Squad

Terror Squad

198?, Dir. Peter Maris

Chuck Connors, Brodie Greer

Originally written by TelstarMan for the Bad Movie Message Board roundtable, "The Reagan Years." Holla at him at the BMMB.

Hoo boy, this one was pretty tough to get through.

Some boring historical background, first. My father's best friend from college is an orthodonist in Kokomo, Indiana. (It was a small Indiana town before it was an island in a Beach Boys song). We would visit this family once or twice a year and catch up on our lives. One year I heard that a movie had been shot in Kokomo; the son of my father's friend had apparently been very interested that Hollywood had come to Kokomo. Until he saw the final result.

Kevin Jarrell, enjoy this review. You were completely right about both the film and the shrinking bus.

TERROR SQUAD begins with a rather Anglo-looking and rather small mob of alleged Libyans holding signs (courteously written in English) towards the camera. They are pro-Libya, pro-Khadhafi, and anti-Great Satan. Enthusiastically so. A bit of sign waving and possibly Libyan chanting later and you got your opening credits over some rather nicely done aerial shots of Kokomo and other places that look like the background to a happy Springsteen or John Mellencamp song.

The score is pretty synthesizer heavy (the film was released in 1987 and probably filmed around '85 or so) but it's not too annoying. There's a pretty interesting fame dropoff in the credits.



What the WHAT?, as I've been saying quite a bit lately. Also, Mr. Greer got billing higher than Ken Foree, who does quite a bit with a pretty thankless job. Or maybe I'm just always happy to see the DAWN OF THE DEAD alumni in a film.

The cast is introduced in an after school detention. I don't remember any of the character names except two, so I'm going to refer to them as their Jungian/Chris Columbus teen movie archetypes: the Jock, the Cheerleader (both blond and rather Aryan looking); the Nerd (getting hot and bothered watching a workout TV show on an advanced-for-the-time portable television); the Punkette; Jennifer (who has no real discernable personality at this point), and Johnny Dylan, who has the ability to make an electric guitar play synthesizer chords. I am thinking that whatever he played in the theatrical release was to expensive to get video soundtrack rights to. Or it could have been a misstep in post production.

Jennifer resists the rather thuggish advances of the football guy in detention; Johnny Dylan walks in. He's got one of those John Cougar Mulletcamps where his right eye is obscured. Did those EVER look good?

There's quite a bit of time eaten up in the detention before cutting to last night, when Libyan terrorists land boats at "Dunes Beach, Indiana". This scene is filmed to be so dark that I wasn't really sure what was going on. Duffel bags are unloaded. Uzis are loaded and cocked. The second unit director tries to explain why he didn't rent any freakin' lights or anything.

The detention teacher has a real stick up his butt about students reading books during the 90 minutes of detention and tells Johnny Dylan to keep both of his feet on the floor several times. This scene is slightly less exciting to watch than it is to read my description of it.

The Dork's television picks up a plot-sensitive broadcast that mentions "Libyan threats" and a nuclear plant apparently in Kokomo. Cut to the nuclear plant where a squad of terrorists in a van that came from somewhere or other prepare to commit terror. Title completion rate: 100 percent. Huzzah.

As a distraction for the raid on the plant (or to knock out guards or some damn thing that isn't adequately explained) one of the Libyans has to blow himself up. There is an argument over whose turn it is to blow himself up. I would be happy to let someone else take my turn. Not so some of the characters in the film.

The nuclear plant is attacked; the attack is foiled by local police who blow up a van. By the way, the scene where a chain link gate is undamaged by a bazooka round is rather funny. It just swings open rather lazily rather than being blown down. Must have been a non-critical dose of explosive or titanium chain link.

Cut to Chuck Connors getting lunch. His official cop radio says there's a Code One at the Black River nuclear power plant, which apparently means "terror squad attacking a fence". These cops had their priorities straight when they wrote those codes, man...

Car chase. A long, long, long, long car chase. Lots of police cars chasing, shooting at, or being shot at by the two surviving terror squaddists in a sedan. A really, really long car chase. Boy, it's a thrilling sight to see cars driven fast on a rural road. In a straight line.

Long, long, long, long car chase. Chase chase chase. Car car car.

Oh, and I hope you like the sounds of police sirens because they're louder than the soundtrack music during most, if not technically all, of the chase.

I have to say that this was obviously not a high budget movie and that there are some cool low-fi car stunts that I did genuinely enjoy; the best were probably a car-off-a-bridge-into-a-pond stunt and a car falling from the third floor of an abandoned factory.

The squad of two runs over an old man and would have hit a baby carriage if not for a pickup truck that blows through a stop sign or something. Thank goodness for that. Also, at one point in the chase a water tower is knocked down and explodes. Must have been flammable water. Around this point the squad stops trying to escape the cops and they just shoot a whole bunch of stuff.

This is a very, very long car chase.

Cut to the detention, where (eventually) the DuoSquad shows up and takes everyone hostage. This is the point in the film where I pretty much lost interest and stopped taking notes as much. Apologies. It's a dull movie, which is fatal to action thrillers.

After quite a bit of "We are Libyan and will use you as hostages to defeat the Great Satan" type dialogue the cops show up and don't want anyone to get killed. Then the Kokomo SWAT team shows up and stands around outside the school for the rest of the movie. Then Chuck Connors claims that his hostage negotiation experience is that he's seen DOG DAY AFTERNOON three times. Hey, movie? Don't remind me of other and better movies while you're running. That dog don't hunt.

Anyway, some of the students are pretty lippy towards their captors and the detention teacher is beaten to death, which doesn't take very long at all. These are two tough squad-O-terror guys, these are. Then the Dork and Johnny Dylan run off, are briefly pursued by a terrorist, and get to run around the school to do something or other. They don't try to get out of the school. The punkette injures her ankle and is ignored for the rest of the running time of the movie. The jock beats up a terrorist and the cheerleader runs outside. The jock grabs the gun that one half of the terror squad was using and points it at him, yelling ARRRRRRHHHH! or something close to that. Cut to the outside of the school and a burst of gunfire. Cut back to the classroom and the Jock is dead but the terrorist is not. What the foo?

Anyway, the Dork goes to the school's metal shop and makes a crossbow; he argues with Johnny Dylan that they have to save the other students (and get his TV back, but the Dork is too polite to mention this). Dylan quite sensibly points out that being able to fire one crossbow bolt will not be adequate firepower to take on the awesome might of the terror squad, who have guns.

More scenes of cops talking to each other and the sensible terrorist asking for a school bus and a jet to escape from the rather badly handled hostage situation.

A long amount of screen time later the squad attempts to leave with Jennifer, who still doesn't have much of a personality on film. As they leave the Dork shoots the reasonable terrorist with his sole crossbow bolt, which has a slightly worse sound effect than GYMKATA for arrow hits. This marks the only time that GYMKATA was better at doing something than any other movie.

The bus leaves with the terrorist who wanted to blow himself up earlier driving and the wounded, nice Terror Squad member holding a gun on Jennifer. Johnny Dylan leaps off the school roof and lands on the bus; the nice terrorist shoots at him a lot but fails to do more than put holes in the school bus roof.

Dylan does a Yakima Canute stunt under the bus and climbs up the grill. He wrenches one of the side view mirrors off and shatters the front window, surprising the driver. The now no longer street legal bus crashes into a freight train after Johnny Dylan is thrown free and the most astonishing thing happens. While the bus has a high schooler on its roof and is being driven around in every scene prior to this it's a full length school bus. When it hits the train it's a short bus. One that smashes through a box car just as impressively as a full-sized bus, but is cheaper to destroy.

Johnny Dylan goes to the school bus to see if he can move Jennifer's spine around after an auto accident (he can, and it helps) and is attacked by the angry, suicidal terrorsquadist. A fist fight ensues, someone gets a gun, the terrorist is shot as he pulls the pin on a grenade but before he pops the spoon off it. He falls, dropping the grenade as the two students run away from the shrunken bus. He and his Libyan terror squad buddy get their wish, and blow up. Thankfully the last lines are supposed to be romantic rather than vengeful.

The film ends. Thankfully there wasn't money to do more.