I woke up at 4:30 am last night and couldn’t get back to sleep. After a bit of tossing and turning I went downstairs to see what late night TV had to offer. I ended up watching The Dirty Dozen: The Fatal Mission from 1988. This made for TV movie was the fourth installment in the series. The only actors returning from the original were Ernest Borgnine and Telly Savalas. Of course, Telly’s character (the psychopathic Maggott) died in the first movie; here he took on the Lee Marvin role. The cast was rounded out by Erik Estrada from CHiPs, Jeff Conaway from Taxi, Ernie Hudson from Ghostbusters, and Heather Thomas from the Fall Guy. If this sounds absolutely awful, that’s because it is!
The plot is that 12 super Nazis are taking a train to the Middle East to act as a seed for the Fourth Reich should Germany be defeated. Savalas must recruit and lead a new dirty dozen to wipe them out and thus prevent National Socialism surviving Hitler’s fall. One presumes this plot was an excuse to shoot the movie on the cheap in Yugoslavia, much like the Guns of Navarone sequel Force 10 from Navarone.
It’s hard to say what’s the worst thing about this mess. Is it the terrible acting? The listless action scenes? The hackneyed writing? Or perhaps the agonizing romantic subplot between the Thomas’s half-Norwegian character and the Jewish convict (take that, Nazis!)? I can say that Dirty Dozen: the Fatal Mission was fatally awful. It did do one thing right though: it made me drowsy. When it was over, I went back upstairs and fell asleep right away.