27 August 2011 | rcoates-661-22249
Slapdash Video Euro Trash
I pity the video rental store customers who, looking for something fun to watch on a slow night in the mid 80s, saw this sexy box cover with Sybil Danning holding a machine gun, got excited, read on the back that "the Panther Squad gives you non-stop action", and believed it.
Even connoisseurs of trash are likely to feel let down by this one. After a promising opening credits target practice montage set to a fun rock song called "Tough and Tender", Panther Squad goes limp and lazily smirks its way through a series of lame gags, sub-Dolemite fight choreography, and lifeless acting to a mildly amusing end sequence involving an easily whipped world takeover attempt and a cheesy laser that makes a Jeep disappear. A chintzy flick like this one really needs to slather on the exploitative elements in order to hold a viewer's interest, but Panther Squad is sadly and uninterestingly barren of any gore or nudity.
Danning lacks the charisma to carry such lackluster material, and Jack Taylor, a familiar face from European horror films like The Vampires Night Orgy and Pieces, looks bored throughout - though this is apparently intentional and supposed to be humorous - and his absentminded spy character effectively sums up the film's merits when he observes, "Things move pretty slowly around here." Panther Squad is clearly intended as camp, but at times one wonders where the winking, unfunny play ineptitude ends and the real lack of behind-the-camera talent takes over. Case in point: the villains are supposed to be wacko anti-pollution terrorists, but in one scene we see a group of them riding in a car that's putting out blasts of thick, black smoke. Is this a joke, or was the production just that cheap and shoddy? I'm still not sure.
Fans of filmmaking on the Mikels or Sloane level might be able to tolerate this, but all others are advised to avoid. As of writing, unloved VHS copies of Panther Squad are cheaply available.