Written by: George Pacheco on March 19th, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: February, 1979
Director: Greydon Clark
Writers: Greydon Clark, Alvin Fast
Cast: Jack Palance, Peter Lawford, Neville Brand, Susan Kiger, Noela Velasco
DVD Release Date: March 26th, 2013
Approximate Running Time: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Scorpion Releasing
Region Encoding: All Region
Retail Price: $19.95
Angel’s Brigade is an interesting little film, in that this otherwise unassuming 1979 feature has been spread out over no less than three alternate cuts, two of which appear here on this new DVD from Scorpion Releasing.
The film was released in its original length under the title Seven From Heaven, enjoyed a re-release from Roger Corman’s New World Video as Angels Brigade and finally appeared on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 under yet another alternate title of Angels Revenge.
To be honest, the first title fits this film best, not only due to the numerical “7” graphic which recurs throughout the film in between connecting scenes, but because Seven From Heaven is an unabashed attempt to capitalize on the success of Charlie’s Angels during the weird ‘n wild 1970s. When the younger brother of a sexy nightclub singer (Susan Kiger) is hospitalized after a drug deal gone bad, Kiger and similarly idealistic schoolteacher (Jacqueline Cole) gather up a group of like-minded ladies to crusade against the heavies who are perpetrating smack and crack to the streets.
Naturally, these women all arrive with some very fortuitous skill sets—whether it be vehicle skills (Sylvia Anderson), martial arts (Lieu Chinh) or the simple art of seduction (Noela Velasco)—and immediately band together like glue to take on guest stars Jack Palance and Peter Lawford. Indeed, although Lawford and Palance earn top billing here, it’s the angels who are the real stars, and who receive the most screen time, as they mug and chew the scenery for all its worth.
The effect as a whole isn’t too far removed from a T.V. movie in terms of aesthetic and feeling, with loads of cheesy sound effects and musical cues as the punches and kicks fly. Additionally, the film is notable for containing not one, but two cast members from the iconic Gilligan’s Island television program appearing in minor roles, namely “The Skipper” Alan Hale and “Mr. Howell” Jim Backus.
Although the more established cast members do just fine with the undeniably light script material placed in front of them—although Lawford was apparently drunk or medicated on the set, a story which doesn’t seem too difficult to believe when viewing his performance—the acting from the angels is almost uniformly bad, particularly from Jacqueline Cole as “The Schoolteacher.” Her delivery is wooden and awkward to the extreme, although Cole—as the wife of director Greydon Clark—apparently assisted the film’s production behind the scenes. The other angels don’t really fare much better, but they don’t really need to be when dealing with this level of silly exploitation, and Seven From Heaven is all the more enjoyable because of this fact.
The film is light-hearted fare, without any nudity or rampant violence, yet the pace is brisk and the action nicely shot by DP Dean Cundey, who also worked on John Carpenter’s legendary Halloween opus. Seven From Heaven defines nicely the sort of breezy, sugary celluloid which frequented most drive-ins during the 1970s, and is a great party flick for those who are searching for something a little lighter outside the grindhouse.
Scorpion Releasing presents Seven From Heaven/Angels Brigade in an anamorphic widescreen presentation which preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. Although the New World Print of Angels Brigade possesses some damage—not too much, however, making this cut watchable, for sure—the main presentation of the DVD has been restored beautifully, with no noticeable dirt or damage whatsoever.
The Dolby 2.0 Mono audio is slightly hissy in places, yet crystal clear overall, while the extras include the Angels Brigade alternate cut together with a fifteen minute Dean Cundey interview, where the director of photography details nicely the film’s production, while also regaling the viewer with a number of fun stories about working with the cast and crew. Overall, Seven From Heaven/Angels Brigade receives a great presentation from Scorpion Releasing.