• Panther Squad (Full Moon) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Full Moon
    Released on: January 15th, 2020.
    Director: Pierre Chevalier (as Peter Knight)
    Cast: Sybil Danning, Jack Taylor, Karin Schubert, Jean-René Gossart, Analía Ivars, Françoise Bocci, Donald O’Brien
    Year: 1984
    Purchase From Amazon

    Panther Squad– Movie Review:

    Eurocine! The very word has the power to send shivers down the spine of even the most hardened of Euro-cult and trash film afficionados, what with their low budgets, penchant for senseless plots and bad dubbing. But the production company’s output deserves a special place in the pantheon of Z-grade cinema thanks to horror movies like Zombie Lake and, obviously, craptastic action classics like Panther Squad!

    The story gets started after some awesome opening credits set to a great song about how ‘she’s tough and tender.’ From there, we learn how the New Organization Of Nations, or N.O.O.N. for short, is bound and determined to win the ongoing space race. We see this early in the film when they launch a… Space Jeep. But there’s an organization called Clean Space that’s put together commando unit to stop them – because they’re polluting space! When jamming N.O.O.N.’s signals and interrupting their nationwide TV broadcast doesn’t get them everything they want, Clean Space kidnaps one of N.O.O.N.’s top female astronauts and holds her hostage.

    To get her back, N.O.O.N. does what any sensible organization would do – they hire a woman named Ilona (Sybil Danning), better known as The Panther, to gather together her all-female squad of highly trained mercenary types to get their astronaut back and put Clean Space in their proper place. Ilona travels to whatever unidentified country N.O.O.N. is headquartered in and meets up with a guy named Frank Bramble (Jack Taylor) who points her in the right direction and may or may not be completely sloshed. Ilona ensures that the members of her squad (one of whom is Jess Franco regular Analía Ivars) are properly trained (there’s a lot of training in this movie) and she’s off, only to learn that Clean Space is being coerced by an insane general (another Franco regular, Antonio Mayans credited as Robert Foster) and then, kinda-sorta takes care of N.O.O.N.’s problems for them.

    Director Pierre Chevalier (credited as Peter Knight) is the one behind the picture, though lead actress Danning also served as co-producer. Surprisingly completely devoid of nudity, the movie does not do many things well, but it’s definitely entertaining if you’re in the right frame of mind for cheap action trash. At just under eighty-minutes it doesn’t overstay its welcome and while it was clearly cobbled together using a lot of footage from other (possibly unfinished?) films – the space footage is a dead giveaway, there’s no way it was shot for this picture and had to have come from somewhere else. Those familiar with Eurocine’s output already know this was a common practice of theirs.

    The cast are kind of great here. Karin Schubert Black Emanuelle and Emanuelle Around the World has a supporting role in the film and it’s cool to see Analía Ivars run about as one of Ilona’s hired guns. Donald O’Brien from Zombie Holocaust and Ghosthouse has a supporting role too, which is never a bad thing, while Antonio Mayans does a great job of chewing the scenery. Jack Taylor looks like he needs a nap and may have just come off a bender, but he’s fun to see in the film, but of course, it’s Sybil Danning who is the star. She, and pretty much all the other ladies in the squad, runs about in a skimpy black outfit and brandishes all manner of guns that she doesn’t quite appear to know how to handle. She wears bad sunglasses and spouts off inane dialogue. Her work here can charitably be described as wooden but she’s still got that screen presence and that sexy, badass look that she made a career out of exploiting, and for some, that’ll be reason enough to want to check this out.

    Panther Squad– Blu-ray Review:

    Panther Squad comes to Blu-ray from Full Moon Entertainment in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.78.1 and ‘remastered from the original 35mm negative.’ The transfer is a mixed bag, some footage looks crisp, clean and detailed while other material, the inserted bits in particular, are a bit worse for wear. Colors can sometimes lean to a greenish hue, while in other scenes they look pretty nice and natural. Detail isn’t bad at all, but again, it varies from scene to scene. Given the way that this was likely put together, it’s unlikely it ever looked much better than it does here. At least the transfer retains its film-like qualities, showing no problematic noise reduction or edge enhancement. Some vertical scratches show up here and there and grain structure differs from one scene to the next.

    The only audio option on the disc is an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. There are no alternate language options or subtitles provided.

    The main extra is a commentary track with leading lady Sybil Danning moderated by Chris Alexander, who chimes in via phone from Toronto to a Hollywood studio. They talk about where the movie was shot on the coast of the Mediterranean in Spain, in Brussels where the producers lived and how the cast came from all over the place. She then talks about what it was like dealing with Eurocine’s Daniel Lesoeur and Marius Lesoeur, how much she loved working with Daniel in particular, her thoughts on acting alongside Jack Taylor and how he wound up being so prolific in the Spanish film scene, who Ross Vanelli (Gino’s brother) wound up doing the title song ‘Tough And Tender,’ how she enjoyed working with Karin Schubert on this picture and on Bluebeard, the athleticism of the female cast, the challenges of doing action and being sexy at the same time, how she still has her outfit worn in this film, the fact that there is no nudity in the film and more. She occasionally narrates the action but Alexander keeps her engaged and on topic for the most part - it’s a pretty fun and interesting track.

    The disc also contains trailers for Weedjies: Halloweed Night, Necropolis: Legion, Panther Squad, Trancers 2, Robot Wars, Puppet Master 3 and Specters as well as menus and chapter selection.

    Panther Squad– The Final Word:

    Panther Squad is seriously goofy stuff, and not nearly as exploitative as you might expect given that Eurocine bankrolled this thing, but Sybil is in fine form here and both she and the supporting players are pretty fun to watch. Deep or even remotely intelligent this is not, but if you dig low budget action movies and don’t care about things like logic or production value, it’s a pretty fun watch.

    Click on the images below for full-sized Panther Squad Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 6 Comments
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      Wish this had nudity but I'll still check it out. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed THE PHANTOM EMPIRE.
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      Sybil Danning and Chris Alexander mention Jess Franco on THE PANTHER SQUAD blu-ray commentary track. It starts around 8:00. I think he gets mentioned a few more times as well. I was busy with it playing in the background. Chris asks if Jess was involved and Sybil said she didn't see him. She mentions that she wanted to work with Jess but her agent said that he couldn't afford her. I do enjoy Sybil's contributions to her film's releases. She's an interesting lady.
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      There were some fun moments but this definitely needed some sleaze. Sybil is fun and so is Jack Taylor sleep walking though it. I laugh out loud a few times. Very pleased with the transfer and enjoyed the newly created trailer.
    1. Stephen's Avatar
      Stephen -
      Since the cover says "The Eurocine Collection": Is this the first title in this line or are there others already?
    1. funkvader's Avatar
      funkvader -
      Jack Taylor is wishing he was back in "Pieces."
    1. Stephen's Avatar
      Stephen -
      Quote Originally Posted by Stephen View Post
      Since the cover says "The Eurocine Collection": Is this the first title in this line or are there others already?
      To answer my own question... These are other titles from "The Eurocine Collection" (all DVD only):

      Jess Franco's "Esmeralda Bay" looks decent, but my old German VHS runs about 15 minutes longer.