• Angels’ Brigade

    Released by: Scorpion Releasing
    Released on: March 26, 2013.
    Director: Greydon Clark
    Cast: Jack Palance, Peter Lawford, Arthur Godfrey, Jim Backus, Sylvia Anderson
    Year: 1979
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    The Movie:

    Greydon Clark’s 1979 film Angels’ Brigade, presented here in its complete form under the alternate title Seven From Heaven, plays out like some sort of twelve year old boy’s most awesome fantasy. It doesn’t go to the places that a fifteen year old boy’s most awesome fantasy might go, it’s not quite ready for that, but it knows it likes girls and explosions and chase scenes and attack vans, even if it doesn’t necessarily know why.

    Michelle Wilson (Susan Kiger) is a disco queen whose star is on the rise. When her brother gets beaten harshly in a drug related incident, she the confines of Las Vegas and her manager (Skipper from Gilligan’s Island!), where she’s been packing them in night after night, and heads home to look after things. Shortly after she’s approached by her brother’s teacher, April (Jacqueline Cole), who knows all about the shady drug trade in town and in fact even knows where the drug dealers’ secret hideout is! She suggest putting together a crack team of hot female vigilante types to go smash up those drug peddling bastards and make the streets safe for everyone. April figures since Michelle is so popular and famous, everyone will listen to her so the two of them go about putting together a team made up of a foxy black stuntwoman named Terry (Sylvia Anderson), a foxy Asian karate instructor named Keiko (Lieu Chinh) who is supposedly from Vietnam for some reason, a hot model type named Maria (Noela Velasco) who used to be a junkie and who now HATES drug dealers, and hot cop named Elaine (Robin Greer). One of April’s students, Trish (Liza Greer), who calls April ‘teach’ all the time, tags along for the ride.

    So with team assembled, what do they do? First they interrogate a pusher (Darby Hinton), then they build a super van and then they break into a militia compound run by spaghetti loving Commander Lindsey Marsh (Jim Backus – another Gilligan’s Island star!) to get the weapons they need. No ready for action, they more or less wage war on the dope peddlers. What they don’t realize is that the higher ups in the organization, Burke (Peter Lawford) and his right hand man Farrell (Jack Palance), have a got a few surprises up their sleeves.

    Fairly quickly paced and completely ridiculous from start to finish, this film never goes any further than PG-13 in terms of content but that doesn’t take away from the enjoyment factor. There are plot holes big enough to drive a heavily armored attack van through and a crazy soundtrack accentuating the action. Random dudes from Gilligan’s Island show up for… no real reason, honestly, and pretty ladies with varying degrees of horrible acting skills strut across the screen in tight fitting outfits. Some of the intentional comedy is so bad that it somehow becomes hilarious in spite of itself while the action scenes towards the end, that big attack on the compound, it’s got lots of stuff blowing up real good. This is a completely brainless film, but damn if it isn’t a lot of fun. An interesting and quirky cast of B-movie veterans help to make it more watchable than it would be otherwise but yeah, this is fun. Lots and lots of good, stupid fun.


    The movie has been restored from 35mm elements in high definition and presented on DVD in 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen and it’s hard to imagine anyone complaining about the picture quality here. For a low budget seventies drive-in movie, Angels’ Brigade looks very good. There’s a healthy level of grain present as there should be but only very minor print damage noticeable, some minor specks and that’s about it aside from a random scratch or two here and there. Colors are reproduced very nicely and black levels are generally pretty strong as well. Detail is about as good as standard definition will allow for and there are no issues with noise reduction or edge enhancement.

    The Dolby Digital Mono sound mix on the DVD is in the film’s native English, there are no alternate language or subtitle options provided. Clarity is fine. The range is a bit limited but outside of that, things sound pretty good here. The levels are well balanced, there are no problems with any hiss or distortion and the score has some nice strength behind it when the movie calls for it.

    The main extra on the disc is the inclusion of the alternate Angels’ Brigade version originally released by New Line. Its runs just under eighty-seven minutes in length (about nine minutes less) and it’s not in quite as nice a condition as the Seven From Heaven version that acts as the main feature, but it’s perfectly watchable. You’ll likely opt for the longer cut of the film, but having it included here is a nice addition to the disc.

    Also found here is a seventeen minute video interview that Katarina Leigh Waters conducts with the film’s cinematographer, Dean Cundey. He talks about his working relationship with director Greydon Clark, who gave him his start on Black Shampoo before talking about what he was able to learn on the early B-movies he worked on. He has kind things to say about most of the cast and crew involved with the picture and comes across as a pretty amiable guy.

    Outside of that, we get a few trailers for other Scorpion Releasing properties, menus and chapter selection. As this is part of Katarina's Kat Scratch Cinema line, you also have the option of watching the movie play out with an introduction from Katarina Leigh Waters who gives us a quick and fairly humorous rundown of the movie and who runs off some cast and crew credits and trivia information before the movie starts.

    The Final Word:

    You’d expect this one to go into sleazier, sexier territory than it does but even though that never really happens, you can’t not have fun with a movie like this. If watching a platoon of seventies hotties run around in matching disco suits blowing stuff up and doing battle with Jack Palance sounds like your idea of a good time, step right up. The fact that Scorpion Releasing’s DVD looks and sounds as good as it does is a big plus and a couple of cool extras make for the icing on the cake.

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Scyther's Avatar
      Scyther -
      Right on the money with this one, Ian. Had a great time watching this, brought me back to sitting in front of the tube when I was a kid and having that "funny feeling" about Ginger from Gilligan's Island. (The Skipper AND Mr. Howell were in this one!)
    1. JoeS's Avatar
      JoeS -
      ANGELS REVENGE (1979).
      Greydon Clark's (WITHOUT WARNING, JOYSTICKS) cash in on TV's Charlie's Angels (by way of THE DOLL SQUAD and, yes, Kurosawa's SEVEN SAMURAI) concerns a group of seven women lead by a school teacher (Jacqulin Cole; Wife of the director) and bankrolled by a Disco Singer (Playmate Susan Kiger, sporting a Farrah like big blond do) who plan to take down the local drug runners led by Jack Palance and a visibly besotted Peter Lawford (confirmed by Cinematographer Dean Cundey; he of HALLOWEEN and JURASSIC PARK fame). Along with Palance and Lawford, there is Jim Backus, Alan Hale, Neville Brand, Darby Hinton, Pat Buttram and Arthur Godfrey as himself. The soundtrack veers from disco to classical to action cliche to a sound-alike of the theme from the Charlie's Angels TV show. The "hit" song that Kiger badly lips synchs to ("Shine a Light on Me") was performed by an Arista records singer Patty Foley, which apparently was enough to warrant a Co-Producing company credit for the record label! Despite all the jiggling cleavage on view, Clark keeps this a TV friendly PG. The action is so utterly unconvincing that "funny" sound effects are added.

      P.S. I worked on two pictures with Director Greydon Clark and stayed in loose touch with him for several years afterward, including helping arrange a Q&A with him at a screening of his SATAN'S CHEERLEADERS. A good solid, if quiet, guy. He appears in this film as, what else, a Film Director.