Mankillers (a.k.a. 12 Wild Women) Blu-ray Review

Derivative 80’s action takes The Dirty Dozen’s formula with female prisoners

It’s wild a movie such as Mankillers is even hitting Blu-ray. Only the Eighties could have produced this low-budget action cheese about 12 female commandos confronting a rogue CIA agent. Made on the cheap for the VHS rental market, director David A. Prior (Deadly Prey, Killer Workout) fashions a strangely entertaining rip-off of The Dirty Dozen. This is the kind of fare that played well on the fuzzy UHF channels of yore with its cheap thrills and A-Team feel.

Mankillers stars a litany of b-movie actors in Edd Byrnes (77 Sunset Strip), Gail Fisher (Mannix), Edy Williams (The Naked Kiss), Lynda Aldon (Doctor Detroit), William Zipp (Deadly Prey), Christine Lunde (The Masque of the Red Death) and Suzanne Tegmann (Death Chase). Obviously no one is a big name in this movie. They were cast more for their looks than acting talent.

John Mickland (William Zipp) has gone rogue from the CIA. He’s become a deadly drug lord and ruthless criminal. When the CIA gets tired of losing agents trying to stop him, they contact a disgraced former agent that just so happens to be his ex-flame. Former CIA agent Rachael McKenna (Lynda Aldon) demands an all-female squad of operatives to take Mickland down. Taking a cue from The Dirty Dozen, she recruits her team from the female prison population. They are offered freedom if they take on this suicide mission.

Like any good action flick from the 1980s, what ensues is an extended training montage of the women in action. McKenna is a tough-as-nails leader and she whips these prisoners into fighting shape before they have to face Mickland and his soldiers. This is where the cheesy Mankillers really hits its stride. Some of her team will die fighting in action.

Low-budget b-movies like this one work best when you keep your expectations low.

Prior hits upon a winning formula almost by accident. Take twelve attractive actresses, put them in skimpy army fatigues crossed with aerobic wear, and let them carry guns around like they are Rambo. It’s a perfectly insane A-Team approach to action that should work for just about every red-blooded male.

What helps Mankillers’ enthusiastic, b-movie joie de vivre is memorable casting. While this line-up of b-movie actors are no master thespians, they fit their roles with a rugged predictability. A different cast may not have made this movie work at all.

Lynda Aldon cuts an impressive figure as Rachael McKenna, even if she delivers her lines with a gritty determination. William Zipp certainly looks the part of b-movie villain, which is more critical than you would think when dialogue is often forgettable. The buxom line-up of female prisoners definitely provide enough eye candy as they run around carrying automatic machine guns.

Mankillers has a retro charm that should appeal to action movie lovers. I think almost anyone that liked the original A-Team television series should find it cheesy fun. Low-budget b-movies like this one work best when you keep your expectations low. It would have been fun discovering Mankillers by accident back in the day, flipping broadcast channels as you played with the rabbit ears on the analog television set.

Mankillers Blu-ray screen shot 11

Video

Olive Films is upfront about the source of this terrible Blu-ray presentation on the package. The 1987 film has been licensed from Slasher Video. The only available elements for Mankillers was a PAL Beta SP videotape. Olive Films took an old, VHS-era analog source and upscaled it to 1080P video. As expected, the video is in terrible shape. This is poor, standard-definition video with limited resolution and some tracking errors. Upscaling such limited material does nothing for its picture quality.

Originally filmed in 35mm like most movie productions during the 1980s, Mankillers is presented in an altered 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Going by its poor framing and composition seen on this BD, 1.33:1 is not Mankillers’ original aspect ratio. The 85-minute main feature is encoded in AVC on a BD-25.

Is this one of the worst Blu-ray presentations I’ve seen out of thousands? Yes. Rarely has Pal Beta SP analog footage been used on the format as a source. It is certainly watchable if one has few expectations. The videotape source shows some color fading and a couple of drastic tracking errors. Clarity is slightly better than expected, especially after a rough start. There was no real point in putting Mankillers on Blu-ray except for marketing reasons.

Audio

The mono soundtrack for Mankillers is heard in adequate 2.0 DTS-HD MA audio. Like the video, this is very limited audio quality. The sound is far more serviceable by comparison, though a couple of moments offer garbled fidelity with strange noises.

Optional English SDH subtitles display in a white font.

Extras

Mankillers is the type of movie where a fan commentary may have been quite enjoyable. Olive Films offers up a photo gallery of original promotional images and the vintage trailer.

Photo Gallery (06:27 in HD) – A series of images capturing posters and other promotional items for Mankillers.

Mankillers Trailer (02:39 in upscaled HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not influenced DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Click on the images below for full-resolution 1080P screenshots taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered during the process. Patreon supporters are able to access these screens early, view them as .pngs, and gain access to exclusives.