Terror Squad (1987)
Nomination Year: 2009
SYNOPSIS: In the old Dark Shadows Drinking Game, you took a drink every time someone said "Terror" in any form.
If you followed that rule, you would still be mostly sober after a viewing of Terror Squad. Although it was clearly pushing for the Red Dawn cachet, the closest it came was sort of a Red Matinee.
A group of Libyan terrorists sneak across the US/Canada border into Indiana in order to blow up the nuclear power plant in Kokomo. They fail to do so. In the ensuing chase, they blow up about half the town.
In this long extended car chase sequence you get two different types of continuity problems. The terrorist's car cannot decide whether it wants to have four working headlights or two working and two busted out, and it keeps changing this from shot to shot. Also, when the terrorists talk amongst themselves (in heavily-accented English, which all foreign people speak), you can see they're driving down a wooded lane. But when you get the mandatory overhead wide shot, they're in the middle of a corn field.
Eventually, the terrorists end up at a high school, taking hostage the kids who have stayed late for detention. That's right.... It's Red Dawn meets The Breakfast Club. There's an uptight teacher, a jock guy, a cool music guy, a nerd guy, a delinquent girl, a cheerleader girl, and a girl-next-door girl. Some will live, some will (hooray!) be gunned down by terrorists.
After all ... these are high-school kids in detention. They're mouthy. Somewhere out there must be a movie where terrorists pick -- dun dun dun! -- the wrong high school! The competent vo-tech students escape and hunt the terrorists down one by one. That, however, is not this movie.
By this time, the Kokomo Police Department SWAT team has been called out, but the Police Chief (Chuck Connors) won't let them assault the building. He wants to try negotiating with the terrorists first. After all, he says, "I've seen Dog Day Afternoon three times."
As nearly as I can figure, the terrorists themselves must be the "Terror Squad" of the title, because there's no indication that any law enforcement officials (or for that matter, any of the students) have the foggiest idea how to deal with terrorists -- and they're certainly not some handpicked Terror Squad....
Things happen, people escape, the FBI utterly fails to show up, people are shot, the nerd makes a crossbow in metal shop, etc., etc., and finally the terrorists are on their way to the airport in a school bus. With their sole remaining hostage, girl-next-door girl. Cool music guy jumps onto the roof of the school bus as it passes the school, and there is a fight on and around the schoolbus. Which changes midway through from a long bus to a short bus. Just because. I guess running a bus into a train is more doable with a short bus than a long bus? I don't know....
Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead, Knightriders) plays the OJ-Simpson-as-Officer-Nordberg-esque assistant to Chuck Connors' Police Chief. But the movie loses major points for calling his character "Officer Brown."
Although, to be fair, for a mid-to-late-80s terrorist movie, it was remarkably (almost treasonously) evenhanded. There were no slow plot points -- once the terrorists crossed the border in their boat, it was non-stop. And they had sufficient budget to blow up several cars and a helicopter, as well as tearing down an old water tower and an old brick smokestack. Not to mention smashing a short bus into a train.
Terrorists are just as bad with their geography as Americans are.
As the terrorists are crossing water at night, the logo onscreen reads "US / CANADIAN BORDER" and then "DUNES BEACH, IN". One or the other is okay, but not both. Indiana doesn't border Canada!
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