Terror Squad (1987)

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.

So, basically what you have here is Red Dawn meets The Breakfast Club.

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.”

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4 thoughts on “Terror Squad (1987)

  1. Amazing that TERROR SQUAD lives on. I wrote the “story” (actually, I did a screenplay which was converted into the epic you see on screen) for the movie. Fortunately I have moved on to better things, but my favorite slang phrase continues to be “Sweet Jesus!”, courtesy of Mr. Connors…

  2. Terror Squad only lives on because my best friend sent me a VHS tape. It’s not on DVD so that makes it a rare find. We’re into rare movies, of all sorts.

    By better things I am sure you mean Battlestar Galactica, the new TV series. I must say that I enjoy that show mostly due to the political undertones throughout the series.

    Something I hinted at in my write-up of Terror Squad was how it’s actually hard to sympathize with the students. Unlike Red Dawn – a very jingoistic film – Terror Squad’s terrorists can actually be pitied, at least Kavi Raz’s character. Having lost family to American bombs his actions seem personal and not too different from many American hero’s of 80’s films. Of course, being an Arab attacking America his feelings matter little and his actions are only seen as terror. Not vengeance – that’s an act reserved only for red blooded Americans…and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    I do not know if it was your intention to make the school kids so flat that the viewer is more annoyed than sympathetic with their attitudes. Still, I found this to be interesting if only because it called into question the level of ignorance about world politics that envelopes most Americans.

    Thanks for posting a comment.

  3. I take no credit for anything in TERROR SQUAD except the title and the general storyline (kids battle terrorists in a small town). I left the project after a couple drafts, so kudos for the good (and the bad) should go to the next writer, who I never met, and to director Peter Maris (who was actually a pretty nice guy).

    I’m surprised it’s never made it to DVD, it did play quite a bit on pay cable in the late 80’s/early 90’s. And I’ve received about $4.00 total in residuals from countries like Brazil…

    I found your site because I was googling to see if it had finally been released on DVD somewhere in the world. Oh well, one of these days.

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