Film Review: Savage Beach (dir by Andy Sidaris)


1989’s Savage Beach is yet another Andy Sidaris film that doesn’t make a damn bit of sense.

This time, Donna (Dona Speir) and Taryn (Hope Marie Carlton) have been hired to perform a very important mission.  You may remember that Donna works for a super secret government agency while, at one point, Taryn was in the witness protection program.  As a part of their cover, they fly a plane in Hawaii, making deliveries and giving tours.

(To be honest, you would think that, after everything that happened in Hard Ticket To Hawaii and Picasso Trigger, their cover would have blown but apparently not.)

Anyway, this time, they’ve been hired to fly a very important vaccine to a nearby island.  They manage to deliver the vaccine but a huge storm has come up.  As soon as they get back in their plane and start back towards Hawaii, Donna says, “Shouldn’t we get out of these wet clothes?”  While usually I roll my eyes at all of the nudity in Sidaris’s films, I have to admit that line made me laugh out loud.  Maybe it was just the sincerity with which Dona Speir delivered it.  Or maybe it’s just the fact that Andy Sidaris actually sat down, thought up that line, wrote it down, and then directed someone saying it.  One thing that can definitely be said for Andy Sidaris: as a filmmaker, he was totally without shame.

Anyway, the storm gets really bad and Donna and Taryn end up crashing on what they think is a deserted island.  Neither of them appear to be too upset about being stranded on that island, perhaps because Savage Beach was filmed nearly two decade before Lost.  Make no doubt about it, Donna and Taryn are optimists!

It turns out that they’re not alone.  Apparently, there’s treasure buried on the island and, as a result, all sorts of people are showing up.  Most of them are villainous.  Some of them are heroic.  There’s even another Abilene cousin, Shane Abilene (Michael J. Shane).  Everyone wants that treasure.  Everyone except for … THE WARRIOR!

Who is the Warrior (Michael Mikasa)?  He was a soldier in the Japanese army during World War II.  Left behind on the island, he’s still fighting the war.  Or something.  Actually, it’s not always easy to understand what the Warrior or anyone else is doing on the island.  The Warrior does decide to protect Donna and Taryn and both of them try to keep his existence a secret from the rest of the people on the island but that doesn’t really work out.

Honestly, Savage Beach should not have been as complicated as it was.  It should have been a simple story where Donna and Taryn outwitted a bunch of pirates on a desert island.  Instead, more and more people just keep showing up on that beach.  Good luck trying to keep them all straight.

It’s probably unnecessary to say that Savage Beach was a mess.  I think “mess” is probably one of the words most commonly used in any review of an Andy Sidaris film.  However, like most Sidaris films, the whole thing is too good-natured to really dislike.  In fact, the plot is so incoherent that it actually becomes strangely fascinating.

Add to that, as a result of watching Savage Beach, I now know that you can safely undress and fly a plane at the same time.  If I ever get my pilot’s license, I’ll be sure to remember that!

Film Review: Picasso Trigger (dir by Andy Sidaris)


Just from hearing the plot description, you would probably think that Picasso Trigger is a fairly straight forward film.

Basically, Picasso Trigger (John Aprea) is an international criminal mastermind and a lover of the arts.  After he drops a painting of a Picasso Trigger (the fish, not the character) off at the Louvre,  he is promptly blown up by an assassin.  The assassin was sent by one of his rivals, the evil Miguel Ortiz (Robert Obergon).  So now, Picasso is dead and Ortiz is now even more powerful than he was before.

Make sense so far?

It turns out that Picasso Trigger was not the only person that Ortiz hates.  Ortiz also has a vendetta against the secret American law enforcement agency that Ortiz blames for the death of his brother.  So, Ortiz decides that the time is right to start assassinating all of the members of that agency.  The surviving members of the agency have to stop Ortiz before he kills them all.

That wasn’t hard to follow, right?

Now, just try watching the movie.

Seriously, even by the standards of Andy Sidaris, Picasso Trigger is a total mess.  It’s a follow-up to Malibu Express and Hard Ticket To Hawaii, which means that Dona Speir and Hope Marie Carlton are back and flying around Hawaii in their airplane.  There’s also two more Abilenes to deal with, L.G. Abilene (Guich Kook) and his nephew, Travis (Steve Bond).

For some reason, L.G. sends Travis on a mission to Dallas.  It has something to do with what’s going on with Picasso Trigger and Miguel Ortiz but I was never sure what.  But the important thing is that Picasso Trigger‘s Dallas scenes were actually shot in Dallas.  (I always like seeing my hometown in the movies.)  Once Travis arrives in Dallas, he meets another agent named Pantera (Roberta Vasquez).  Apparently, Travis and Pantera went to high school together.  The mission in Dallas leads to Travis stealing a boat.  I’m not sure why.

Anyway, eventually, we get back to Ortiz trying to kill agents and the question of whether Picasso Trigger was actually blown up or not.  To be honest, so many people get blown up over the course of the movie that I’m not surprised that even a super secret government agency had a hard time keeping up with who was still around.  It turns out that there’s a double agent within the agency.  Who could it be!?

One thing that about Picasso Trigger that made a huge impression on me was just how nonchalant everyone was about being targeted for assassination. No one seemed to be too upset about any of it.  Travis, for his part, just seemed to be hanging out.

The other interesting thing about Picasso Trigger is that it featured an explosive boomerang.  Here’s the thing, though,  What if you threw the boomerang and it missed its target?  Wouldn’t it come flying back and blow you up?  Seriously, I don’t think the government really thought that weapon through.

Anyway, Picasso Trigger is a total mess but it’s likable in its silly way.  The film doesn’t take itself seriously, which helps.  And hey, it’s a chance to see what Dallas looked like in 1988!

Film Review: Hard Ticket To Hawaii (dir by Andy Sidaris)


I absolutely love Hawaii.

Years ago, my family spent a wonderful summer in Hawaii.  I’m not a swimmer and I have a morbid fear of drowning but oh my God, I loved walking along the Hawaiian beach.  It was the most incredibly beautiful place that I had ever seen.  The water was so blue.  The trees were so green.  And the people … oh my God, the people were so friendly and generous!  I have never had more drugs randomly offered to me than when I was walking on the back in Hawaii.  Even the screaming homeless people in Hawaii seemed nicer than the screaming homeless people on the mainland.

Of course, the truth is that no place is perfect.  Undoubtedly, Hawaii had its dark side.  I mean, just look at the 1987 film, Hard Ticket to Hawaii.

Directed by Andy Sidaris and officially the second film in his Triple B (Bullets, Bombs, and Babes) franchise, Hard Ticket To Hawaii has been described as being the greatest B-movie ever move.  I don’t know if I’d go that far but it’s certainly the only Andy Sidaris film to ever air on TCM.

Hard Ticket To Hawaii tells the story about … well, actually, it tells a lot of stories.  This is a Sidaris film, which means that it’s collection of bad puns, double entendres, cartoonish violence, and totally random scenes that don’t really link up to anything else in the film.

For instance, there’s a scene where a sportscaster interviews two former football players and has a panic attack when he thinks that the N-word has been broadcast on national television.  But then it turns out that the feed went out before the word was uttered so … hey, problem solved.  And it’s never spoken of again.

And then there’s an aging actress and a sleazy producer and they have a few scenes before they vanish from the film.  I’m not sure why they were in the film in the first place.  Maybe they were friends of Andy Sidaris.

And then there’s the giant mutant snake.  It says something about the narrative strangeness of Hard Ticket To Hawaii that the giant mutant snake is just a relatively minor subplot.

The actual plot begins when two innocent Molokai cops are executed by some smug drug dealers.  “Ah!” you say, “it’s going to be a film about drug runners!”  No, actually it’s a film about diamond smugglers because the whole drug things get abandoned fairly quickly.

A stash of stolen diamonds is accidentally recovered by Donna (Dona Speir) and Taryn (Hope Marie Carlton).  Donna and Taryn work for Molokai Cargo.  They transport packages and they take tourists around the island.  Except, Donna is also a secret government agent and apparently, Taryn is in the witness protection program.

Anyway, they not only find the stolen diamonds but they also lose the aforementioned mutant snake.  With the smugglers determined to get the diamonds, Dona calls in Rowdy Abeline (Ronn Mass), cousin of Cody Abeline who was the lead character in Malibu Express.  As soon as Rowdy arrives on the island, he is targeted by an assassin on a skateboard.  The assassin is carrying a gun and sex doll but he didn’t consider that Rowdy would have a bazooka in the back of his jeep.

Meanwhile, there’s a guy named Shades who just hangs out on the beach while holding a submachine gun.  He’s guarding something and Rowdy knows that he needs to get by Shades.  Fortunately, a local woman always play frisbee with Shades.

“Good,” Rowdy says, “I can use that.”

And use that he does.

Now, this may all seem incredibly stupid but last year, the Alamo Drafthouse showed the frisbee scene before a showing of Free Fire and the audience went crazy.  Seriously, it’s an iconic scene, even if it doesn’t make any sense.  And hey, now I know what to say that next time a total stranger tells me that I have a nice ass.

You too, Pilgrim!

Hard Ticket To Hawaii is insane.  (I haven’t even mentioned half of the crazy stuff that happens in this movie.)  It makes absolutely no sense but it’s so quickly paced that it doesn’t matter.  Hard Ticket To Hawaii cheerfully embraces its weirdness.  It may not be any good but it is a lot of fun.

Add to that, Hawaii, as always, looks great!

The SPM Trilogy Revisited : “Slumber Party Massacre III”


SLUMBER-PARTY-MASSACRE-III-DVD

What the heck, let’s wrap this up, shall we?

While the appearance of Slumber Party II may have surprised some being that it came five years after the original, it’s safe to say that when Roger Corman unleashed Slumber Party Massacre III  on the direct-to-video market in 1990, nobody was shocked in the least.

Shot primarily at one beach location and one residential home for exteriors, and with all the interiors being filmed at Corman’s Venice, California studio, the third installment in the SPM series cost a grand total of $350,000 and took somewhere in the neighborhood of one week to get “in the can,” as the saying goes, so yeah — it’s cheap , quick stuff we’re talking about here.

That being said, that certainly doesn’t mean it’s bad. What starts as a pretty bog-standard tale of stereotypical SoCal bimbo Diane (Brandi Burkett) and her friends ( a crew that features a few  young-at-the-time ladies, such as Hope Marie Carlton, Maria Ford, and Keely Christian, whose faces — and other parts — you may recognize from similar early-90s “slasher”/sexploitation fare) playing volleyball at the beach and then returning to Diane’s parents’ place for a weekend slumber party, where they are set upon, in turn, by their prankster-ish boyfriends, a voyeuristic “nosy neighbor” type, a mute Albino creepy dude, and finally a pyscho killer with a power drill, actually morphs somewhere along the way into a flick with a pretty wickedly sadistic, even black-hearted, sense of humor — with a pretty heavy dose of the misogyny you’ve come to expect from these things thrown in, of course.

As a brief case in point, instead of the standard bathtub-electrocution with either a hair dryer or toaster, in SPM III one of the nubile young co-eds is dispatched in the tub by means of a vibrator gone haywire! Nasty stuff, to be sure, but clearly not something that takes itself too terribly seriously while it’s dishing out its feminist-unfriendly — hell, female-unfriendly — goods.

slumberpartymassacre3girls

As with the previous two entries in this series, Corman again opted for an all-female writing and directing team here in order, one would assume, to help deflect any criticism this one might bet from the usual quarters (not that very many people were paying attention by this point), with those duties falling to Catherine Cyran (one of his regular screenwriters at the time) and Sally Mattison (a semi-veteran of Hollywood’s low-budget fringes best known for her work as a producer), respectively, and while it’s fair to say that this film is the most “seems-like-it-coulda-been-directed-by-a-man-ish” of the bunch, given that it ups the ante a bit in terms of its misogyny and plays it much “straighter,” if you will, than its predecessors in terms of sticking to the standard and much-maligned slasher formula, at the end of the day it’s still a pretty tongue-in-cheek affair  that’s just a bit more self-indulgent and gratuitous in terms of the T&A and overall mean-spiritedness.

To their absolute, credit, though, Mattison and Cyran, while carrying over the blatant phallo-centrism of the whole power drill thing, at least decide to throw in a bit of “whodunit?”-style mystery into the proceedings vis a vis their killer’s identity. Yes, folks, for the first time in a Slumber Party Massacre movie, the psycho might actually have some motivation for his murder spree here!

Or, ya know, he might turn out to be just some random stranger after all. I guess I won’t “spoil” anything in case you haven’t actually seen it. I will say, however,  that the mystery angle isn’t a particularly involving one — but hell, at least it’s there. We’ve already firmly established that “take what you can get” is the order of business with these things, haven’t we? The same — ahem! — “philosophy” applies here.

spmpt32

All in all,  though, you do get the sense that everyone involved here is giving it their best go on what they’ve got — which admittedly isn’t much in terms of time, talent, and money — but I’d rather watch so-called “D-listers” actually try than “A-listers” sleepwalking through yet another mega-budget production any day of the week. Slumber Party Massacre III may not be particularly ambitious stuff by any stretch, but it’s put together and performed by people who gave an honest day’s effort at the office. That’s worth a little something right there,  and after the absolute clusterfuck of wanna-be “trippy-ness” in the second flick, the “return to roots” sensibility in this one is very welcome indeed.

slumber-party-massacre-iii

As always, the third and final outing (to date) in the SPM “oeuvre” is available on DVD from Shout! Factory packed together with its older celluloid sisters in a two-disc set under the heading “The Slumber Party Massacre Collection,” part of the “Roger Corman’s Cult Classics” series. It’s presented full-frame with 2.0 stereo sound — and while if there’s been any remastering done with either it’s certainly minimal, the whole thing looks and sounds generally decent enough. Extras include a good little “making-of” featurette, a feature-length commentary with director Mattison, the original trailer, a few trailers for other titles in the Corman series, a poster and still gallery, and a liner notes booklet by Slumber Party Massacre fanatic/filmmaker Jason Paul Collum. A very comprehensive package well worth your time.

slumber082710

Look, who are we kidding? This isn’t a movie out to set the world on fire — hell, it’s not even out to set the DTV slasher world on fire. It’s there to give two distinct parties their money’s worth — Roger Corman and you, the viewer. It manages to deliver on both fronts, even if just barely. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily worthy of a ton of respect, but it’s not worthy of any sort of scorn, either. Don’t expect too damn much, and you’ll walk away satisfied.

Not, I suppose, that anyone who might be inclined to “expect much” as far as their entertainment choices go  is even watching this in the first place.