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“Big guns, and even bigger hair.”

mankillers - vhs1I remember bumping into this one back in the 90’s, on VHS [kids, ask your parents!]. Stumbling across it again recently, I wondered why I had ever bothered – but then I discovered the cornucopia of lurid video sleeves used to lure unwary buyers into purchasing or renting it, and it all made much more sense. I can’t remember exactly which one was on the British video releaase, but I think it was a slight variant of #2 (below, left), over a gratuitous background of exploding fireballs. There are times when I miss those days of prowling the local video store, or market stalls, picking up cinematic “gems” based entirely on their covers. And then, I watch something like this, and remember how few of those purchases ever came anywhere close to living up to their promotional material.

Much as in Naked Avenger, this focuses on an international white-slavery ring, inexplicably appearing to be operated out of a run-down junkyard in some backwoods community. The chief perp in this case is John Mickland (Zipp), a former government agent whose inside knowledge means he can easily counter all “official” efforts to bring him down. So, the government turns to Rachael McKenna (Aldon), who visits a local prison to recruit a “grubby half-dozen” of ne’er-do-wells whom she can lick into shape, in order to form a squad that can head into Mickland’s lair and take down his operation. Quite why they have to be women, is never explained: if there’d been some element of subterfuge, such as infiltration by pretending to be merchandise, that’d have made some sense. Instead, it’s not much more than a traipse through a forest, and a gunfight which follows: since there’s no apparent interest in capturing anyone, would have been more logical just to call in an air-strike. But then, I suppose, we wouldn’t have got the lengthy training montage. And, let’s face it, that’s basically just an excuse for hot-pants and crop-tops, as well as some of the eightiest hair I’ve ever seen. Seriously, the film needs a widescreen release, so we can appreciate the full majesty of the coiffeurs on view.

Not least, because there is precious little else to appreciate. This is such a painfully poverty-stricken production – though it looks like Avatar in comparison to Naked Avenger, that when the action comes, it looks more like little kids playing soldiers. When it comes down to McKenna going one-on-one with Mickland, it becomes somewhat more interesting, largely because the latter is as hard to kill as Jason Vorhees, and is capable of taking multiple bullets, yet can still drive away. Lucky that our heroine came prepared, even for this eventuality. However, getting to that final point will tax the patience of most viewers – as well as their hairdressers.

Dir: David A. Prior
Star: Lynda Aldon, William Zipp, Edy Williams, Gail Fisher
a.k.a. Death Squad

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