In these post-9/11 times 80’s terrorists films seem vulgar and short-sighted. The blurb on the back of the video box says, “A terrorist attack in the United States – They said it could never happen…They were wrong.” Just think, if only someone had bothered to watch Terror Squad we might have been better prepared for 9/11.
Of course, films like Terror Squad were a dime a dozen in those pre-9/11 days. Terrorists could strike at anytime, but you could always count on some brash, tough, American(s) to save the day. Here, Libyan terrorists – four of them – attack a nuclear power plant in Kokomo, Indiana. After an exorbitantly long car chase through and around the town, leaving a wide swath of destruction, the two remaining terrorists flee into a high school where they take a detention room full of students hostage.
Surprisingly, the filmmakers take the time to make the terrorists Libyans angered by America’s recent bombing of their country. I give the filmmakers some credit for making the film topical. Still, the terrorists are flat caricatures that love Allah, hate America, and solve everything through violence. Which makes them just slightly different than their captors.
In the detention room you’ve got the cheerleader, the priss, the jock, the punk, the rebel, and of course the nerd, who is also a pervert – all of them white. There is also the black janitor, but staying true to bad movie traditions, he’s the first person to die. The lack of personality or charm make it hard to sympathize with the students. Many simply come across as Ugly Americans.
Chuck Connors is the biggest star they could drag to Kokomo. He plays the town’s police chief and does little more than forcefully curse and chase the terrorists in his car, Not his best performance, but he adds a little shine to an otherwise by-the-numbers picture with more than average action sequences.
The true stars of the film appear to be the fine folks of Indiana. Shot in Kokomo and Michigan City, Indiana, the towns must have felt like they were literally under siege. Water towers tumble, smoke stacks explode, the town square is littered with bullets. In a film were action replaces all drama it appears that the film crew was given free reign over each town. For all the hassle of having Hollywood invade your quiet community, I am sure Kokomo is still proud to helped make such a patriotic film. I hope one day to go to there and see a plaque downtown that says, “The little city who stood up to the Terror Squad.”