Well, this is very much overdue, but here we are – a return to the world of Andy Sidaris.
Almost five whole years ago, B-Movie Enema took a ride on the Malibu Express. It was always my intention to start plowing through the Sidaris filmography, but there was an issue right away. This week’s movie, Hard Ticket to Hawaii, is very, very well covered – which is funny because the girls in this movie are hardly covered at all (note to self: insert rimshot). All kidding aside, Hard Ticket to Hawaii is the one movie in the Sidaris library that pretty much everyone knows.
Between being covered by RedLetterMedia on one of the very earliest episodes of Best of the Worst, it already having been covered by the gang at How Did This Get Made, and having been featured in just about every possible podcast that ever pod casted, it’s not one that has much more room for commentary. Shit, in 2014, Paste Magazine called it THE best B-movie of all time. High praise indeed. But, alas, here I am. If I had acted sooner, I wouldn’t have had to keep putting it off because of its popularity, but I had so many other things to cover back in those early days of this blog. What… Did you think the 1968 William Shatner/Adam West version of Alexander the Great was going to cover itself?
I never said too much about Andy Sidaris in that older review of Malibu Express. So let’s do that now. Sidaris got his start doing work in sports television. He was actually considered a pioneer of a lot of things. He did things like the Olympics and ABC’s Wide World of Sports. Between football and basketball, he directed hundreds of games and won an Emmy for his work.
Now, you may wonder how a guy goes from directing sporting events to doing titty-sploitation movies. Well, there’s one thing in particular that he pioneered that lasted for several decades in sports coverage – the honey shot. The honey shot was closeups of cheerleaders during timeouts or pretty girls in the stands watching the games, etc. I think that lasted until Brent Musberger got a little weird about A.J. Carron’s girlfriend a few years ago. Obviously, Andy liked looking at women.
Sure enough, with his wife, Arlene, Andy would go on to make many, many movies that featured very pretty girls. Prior to making Malibu Express, he did do some TV on shows like Kojak, and a few other movies, even working on 1970’s MASH with Robert Altman. One of his films, Stacey, is in my possession and will likely show up someday on this very blog. In my earlier review of Malibu Express, I said that film kicked off Andy’s L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies series. That’s not exactly true – for two reasons. First, That’s not what the series is called. The organization seen in most of the movies call themselves that, or you can point to that being the name of their organization, but the series is actually called the BBB Series – short for Bullets, Bombs, and Babes (or Boobs for that last B) Series.
Second, Malibu Express didn’t really start the series. It IS tangentially connected to the other 11 movies because how that ends with Sybil Danning explaining she is a government agent and now in Hawaii where the rest of the series takes place all points to the L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies organization we see later, and the connection to that first movie’s leading character Cody Abilene, but it is not really done quite the same as the others we will see starting with Hard Ticket to Hawaii. I don’t even know if it’s totally fair to say Hard Ticket to Hawaii is the first real movie in the series.
It’s kind of like the James Bond series. Dr. No introduced the character and the style, From Russia with Love continued to play with the style and the character, and Goldfinger really laid the entirety of the formula out for the rest of the series to follow. Malibu Express tells us these are going to be kind of over the top, exploitation, nudity-heavy action flicks with fun and sexy characters. Hard Ticket to Hawaii tweaks that idea a little bit more. The next will really show that the whole thing is now a formula. There is one curious connection between Malibu and Hard Ticket, though. That’s the inclusion of our lead male character, Rowdy Abilene. Rowdy is Cody’s cousin, and Cody is mentioned in this film, but it’s only stated that he’s working in the film industry and starred in a movie version of the stuff we saw in Malibu Express.
So, with that, let’s dive in! We begin things at the Ala Moana Yacht Club in Honolulu. Immediately, we meet our two primary protagonists, Dona Speir’s appropriately named character Donna and soap opera star Ronn Moss playing Rowdy Abilene.
If you thought they’d be wearing anything other than string bikini style swimwear, then you don’t know dick shit about Andy Sidaris. It should be noted that their shenanigans are happening on the famed “Malibu Express” boat that belongs to Rowdy’s cousin Cody. So, if you are curious what belongs in what series or what is a sequel of the other… I guess that’s it.
Anyway, Donna is a drug enforcement officer. She’s stationed on Molokai while Rowdy is a government agent in Honolulu. He suggests she come with him to work at the organization because he thinks drug enforcement isn’t right for a woman – especially a woman with tits as big and showable to him as hers. The next morning, a couple Molokai cops happen across some drug guys doing drug guy things. They are killed and our island-y, rockin’ credits begin.
While the credits appear on various crates, boxes, and papers in a warehouse, we get the day to day activities of a heavy shipping company. One of the packages that is being shipped contains a live snake – a quite large and scarrrry snake.
We get a lot more info on this snake in a bit. But, first, it has to get free. Even before that, we have to meet Donna’s sorta DEA partner, Taryn (played by Hope Marie Carlton). Here’s the deal with Taryn: She’s actually in the witness protection program. The deal she cut was to go to Hawaii and help keep Donna’s cover as an agent. That cover is that they are pilots on Molokai. While still a civilian, Taryn isn’t exactly happy with how much Donna stays on her ass to work out and stay in peek physical condition as if she was a full on DEA agent.
Hope Marie Carlton is not a total stranger to B-Movie Enema. She was one of the vanquished friends killed on Alcatraz in Slaughterhouse Rock. She was the unfortunate one to be attacked and raped by her possessed boyfriend. Carlton was a Playboy Playmate in 1985 and my mostest favoritest thing in all of Andy Sidaris’ filmography. Why’s that? She’s insanely hot. I don’t think I need to say anything else about that.
Donna and Taryn get their orders from their boss at Molokai Cargo – drop off some honeymooners to where they are booked to stay, and deliver that snake to a wildlife place that it will be displayed at. They don’t realize that the dumbshit with the forklift earlier broke the binding straps on the crate the snake is in.
While the visuals gives us lots of beauty shots of Molokai as Donna and Taryn taxi the honeymooners, our ears are serenaded with the lovely sounds of the movie’s theme song.
While the girls fly to their destination, their boss soon learns that that binding for the snake they have on board their plane is on the warehouse floor. It also has a big ol’ warning sing on it that says it is “contaminated”. On top of that, there is yet ANOTHER crate with an uncontaminated snake in the warehouse that was supposed to go to the wildlife park. So… uh oh. Two snakes, one contaminated with… something. We’ll find out a lot more about that very shortly.
While Donna and Taryn’s boss tries to contact them about the snake to get them back to base, we see some unlawful dudes on a yacht that are talking about their shenanigans. They are transporting something by way of a remote control helicopter. The helicopter is meant for a pair of goons, but the first to find it are our sexy heroines. The goons show up and immediately start trouble. But our girls are good at throwing things.
Alright, so Andy Sidaris gives us absolutely everything we need in less than 20 minutes. First, there’s a hunky fed named Rowdy Abilene who is probably some sort of action guy. He slips the noodle to action babe, and DEA agent, Donna. Donna has a partner to help her stay undercover as a cargo and passenger helicopter pilot named Taryn who is REALLY good at nailing dopes in the dome with a nightstick. There are some sort of possible drug and/or other kind of smuggling happening on and around Molokai. There was a mysterious package meant to be delivered to a couple goons, but is now in the possession of our action babes. Our main bad guy, who the two goons are a bit scared of is named Seth.
And there’s a contaminated snake.
The girls show up at the wildlife park and unload the snake. As they do, Donna makes mention that they really need to figure out what just happened back there with the little chopper and those goons. She says, and I quote, “Taryn, we need to figure out what just happened. Let’s unload and hit the jacuzzi. I do my best thinking there.” Goddamn, Mr. Sidaris. How you didn’t win an Oscar for the screenplay, I will never know.
Speaking of Andy, he’s in this movie too. In Malibu Express, he had a cameo as a guy who gives Cody and June Khnockers a ride back to town in his Winnebego. In this, he’s a New York TV director at a restaurant meeting a woman that, according to her, he nearly raped the night before. He now says he’s not into that. Progress! Anyway, just as he is saying that he isn’t into her body anymore, he just wants her for her mind and intelligence, the waitress at the joint comes up and Andy does what I suspect he was mighty accustomed to – staring at hooters.
What does this have to do with anything? I don’t know, but we see Seth Romero, our lead villain, in the restaurant dining with his lady. He sees his goons who were supposed to be delivering that package from the remote control helicopter. He finds out that they were beaten to the punch to recover whatever was on the toy chopper, and he’s given the information about Molokai Cargo. He then tells his lady that he has a job for her.
But fuck all that, Donna and Taryn are doing thinkin’ time in the jacuzzi! They open up the one package they recovered from the chopper and brought back with them (it was shown the second box in the chopper was dropped in the brush during the action sequence). When they open the package, they discover a tiny bag full of diamonds.
Donna states that they are in big trouble. There aren’t too many Playmates that fly around in cargo planes. So they are likely going to be quickly found. Not only that, but it’s not like Taryn, my lovely, lovely Taryn, can go anywhere either. She’s got a hit out on her everywhere for whatever it is that she did before coming to Hawaii. So they send a message to Rowdy to get his help.
That night, Seth sends some goons to rough Donna and Taryn up. We learn some things about Taryn. First, she wears very small tank tops. Second, she has an aversion to bras. Third, she collects action movie posters. Fourth, it doesn’t matter if the posters are in English. Fifth, she especially likes Andy Sidaris movies.
This is also when we learn that Cody Abilene left the agency and went off to become an actor. When Donna fights back against her goon, the melee ends up breaking the crate the snake is in. Now, that snake that is contaminated is out and about. Meanwhile, Taryn is forced to give her attacker the diamonds, but there is one box missing. That doesn’t quite help our foxy action babes’ situation any. Meanwhile, outside, Seth is waiting for his attackers to come back with the diamonds when he becomes the first person to realize the snake is free…
Yeah, Mr. Super Scary Bad Guy Seth is a super pussy when it comes to snakes that are many yards away. His overreaction to the snake is actually really hilarious and almost real. Like, that’s what I would do if I saw something I wasn’t expecting. I’m not really scared of snakes, but I am of spiders. If I was just hanging out while goons are roughing up some sexy action babes, and I saw a giant spider or something, this is EXACTLY how I would react.
Anyway, the good thing is that because he started shooting at the snake like a pussy, it makes his goons flee the action babes’ house. While they run away, the guy goon trips over a manhole cover. This provides the snake a way to get away through the underground sewers. Donna, pissed about her home being raided, grabs her gun and decides she wants to fuck up these bad guys. She and Taryn chase the bad guys and fire at them, hitting Seth in the face, but not killing him.
But what about that snake? Well, the girls’ boss finally reaches them and tells them that the snake is infected by deadly toxins from cancer infested rats. Basically, this snake is fuckin’ crazed. It will attack anyone that it comes across. But after the girls decide they better get back inside and secure the place, tell us that Donna’s dad was the best agent ever, and get a little encouragement from Taryn, they immediately decide they need to go to Edy’s restaurant.
Okay, forget that the girls are immediately going back out where the scary snake might be for, I dunno, the rest of this movie. Let’s talk about Edy. She is this very tall drink of water who runs the best, and swankiest, restaurant on Molokai. She is someone that the “agency” will occasionally contact for info, but rarely gets any info in return. So when Donna and Taryn show up in outfits that tell us all they are goddamn ready to party, Edy can’t really say too much to help them about this diamonds thing.
What Edy can do is help get the girls in contact with Rowdy and his buddy Jade. He tells Donna that she and Taryn need to stay at Edy’s for the night and they will get out there first thing in the morning with their “box of toys”. Rowdy also instructs Edy to act normal and keep things business as usual to make sure Seth isn’t suspecting of anything happening. That seems like a solid plan, right?
Welllllllll… Not so fast there, cowboy. Seth has someone who works at the restaurant listening in on the call and therefore is able to pass the plans along to Seth.
Although, I’m not so sure that matters all that much. What I mean by that is that after the girls hang up with Rowdy, Taryn hooks up with a guy and basically fuck on the beach. So, I don’t think these ladies are following any plans. In fact, I know so because Donna calls Taryn and tells her she’s been out all night and she has to come back to do work.
That morning, not only does Rowdy and Jade arrive, but so does the most famous scene in the entire Andy Sidaris filmography.
Remember that married couple earlier? Remember that snake? Well, as the married couple take pictures, they are attacked and killed by the snake. It’s actually somewhat famous too because it is about 30 seconds of a couple we spent about 30 seconds with earlier that comes out of nowhere and ends with a man screaming at the sight of a snake that then attacks the wife’s face. It’s the little things in an Andy Sidaris movie.
Speaking of the little things in the Andy Sidaris filmography, there’s something kind of wonderfully brilliant in this movie. Michael A. Andrews appears in this movie as the sneaky lady at the bar who listens in on Edy’s conversations for Seth. Andrews played Stuart in Malibu Express and was a not-so-closeted gay man who also cross-dresses. In this movie, Andrews is going to do a thing for Seth and is interrupted by a woman who tells her that she has to exercise every day to make sure her tits stay nice and buoyant. Andrews’ reaction to that is golden.
Michelle is actually Michael. He changes out of his Michelle “disguise” and goes with the previous goons that attacked Donna and Taryn to chase down Edy before she can get to the hospital to see Rowdy and Jade. The goons grab Edy and make off with her. They take her to Seth’s place while Donna and Taryn are checking the place out. So now, it’s more important than ever to find Rowdy and Jade… Which they do not know that they had to go to the hospital for the wound that Jade suffered when they blew up that guy with the sex doll.
As if we aren’t supposed to forget about the b-plot of the snake thing, the girls have to go and get the honeymooners (for some reason), only to find their bodies completely torn up. They find the guy’s camera and discover the snake is still at large. Again, it’s the little things, but this one is a bit more of a mystery. That’s because the snake is not integral to the movie’s main plot whatsoever. It’s just an added feature to the movie itself. It occasionally pops up in order for you to be reminded it is there, but exactly why it does that, I cannot say. I think it might help remind us that these girls have a cover as these cargo pilots, but… Who cares about that? If they lose their job do they really lose much of anything? And if you’re not so sure how to answer that, allow me to simplify this – is there any element to the movie’s overall plot or, well, anything, that is tied to them having these jobs other than that it was mentioned for exposition and character reasons?
It’s almost there as if to make a funny line in a trailer or on a poster to the effect of “How can these beach beauties from paradise juggle their day jobs as pilots and being wrapped up in criminal intrigue?”
There’s a whole other thing that happens in this movie too that is kept even further in the background than the snake thing. That’s the storyline that involves Andy Sidaris and the guy that Taryn spent all night fucking on the beach earlier in the movie. They are there, I guess, to do interviews with sports people. Exactly why players are there during the league meetings that are taking place, I don’t know, but the sportscaster there with Andy is interviewing two football players and it is the greatest thing ever.
Now, I do believe this is actually based on something that really did happen to Sidaris during his sports broadcasting days. I think I remember hearing at some point that Sidaris was directing an interview either with Howard Cosell or with someone else working on a program as the analyst or something. And there was inappropriate for television conversation that happens in the midst of the interview kind of like what we see above. I don’t remember where I remember hearing that or seeing that, but it’s still a funny scene even if it has zero to do with the movie.
So we’re zeroing on the final 30 minutes of the movie and Rowdy and Jade are getting ready with Donna and Taryn to storm Romero’s place and get Edy back. Oh, and also probably finally deal with Seth and his criminal shenanigans once and for all. It’s also not like Seth isn’t prepared himself. He has a muscle lady who looks very strong and seemingly can do pretty well with num-chuks.
Anyway, why go storming into Seth’s joint right now to save your friend when you can just have sex instead? Yeah, Rowdy and Donna decide to bump chesticular roundies while muscle num-chuks girl tortures Edy. The chief bad guy who delivered the diamonds via tiny helicopter earlier calls up Seth and says that basically everyone can be killed for interfering, existing, fucking, whatever. Just kill them all.
However, holy shit, Rowdy has a plan to get past the primary guard at Seth’s. You see, there’s a guy who likes to throw the frisbee on the beach while he is guarding. In super intelligent writing, we find out the guy’s name is “Shades” not just because he wears shades, but there’s a file on him back at Rowdy’s agency. He’s the guy who at the beginning killed the cops who stumbled upon the criminal business happening. Rowdy has set up a new frisbee to play with. One that has razor blades in it.
With Shades out of the way, the good guys launch their attack. It should be mentioned that being a bad shot runs in the Abilene family. Cody couldn’t hit shit in Malibu Express. Rowdy can’t either in Hard Ticket to Hawaii. Jade gets to karate fight a guy. Taryn shoots a machine gun and kills Michael/Michelle. I just want to say that Hope Marie Carlton with a machine gun is incredibly erotic.
Alright, so motherfuckers are getting dropped here at Seth’s place. Rowdy finds Edy and blows up a guy guarding her with a fucking bazooka. Goons are trying to retreat, but Donna borrows Rowdy’s bazooka and blows them the fuck up. They decide that everyone’s blown up and killed, so they head back home.
But woopsie daisy… Someone forgot to deal with Seth. So they have to go find him. Donna goes home and cleans up after a hard day, and sure enough, Seth is gonna show up there and give her a little payback for All the trouble she’s caused him. She first shoots him with a harpoon. He doesn’t stay down for very long. Then she stabs him with his own knife, but goddammit…. SNAKE!
Not only that, but Seth just will not stay down. Harpoon, knife, snake bite to the face, he’s one resilient son of a bitch. He finally goes down for the final time, but that fuckin’ snake, man. It just keeps coming. Good thing she’s got a Rowdy coming to help her out!
There’s one last thing our heroes need to do. They have to go to the mastermind of this whole thing, the criminal mastermind “Chang”. He’s super smart, super rich and well connected. He’s British-Chinese. He also had a bodyguard that Rowdy dispatches of quickly with num-chuks. When Chang tries to use a sword on them, Donna blows that motherfucker away with a magnum. It’s such a powerful shot, he flies backwards through his window and falls many stories to the concrete.
As with all Andy Sidaris movies, we go to the back of the boat to tie up the last of the loose ends. In this movie, it is the second set of diamonds that were left in the brush earlier on. Only Taryn knows where those are and since she is a civilian, she can take them, keep them for herself, and then profit from it. She plans to even share her newfound wealth with her friends. Happy endings for all!
No, I mean it… The credits replay the sex scenes.
While this is definitely considered to be one of the very best B-movies ever produced and one of the most fun movies to watch based on its sheer cuckoo bananas nature of some of the things that happen, I will say that if this movie was just a centimeter to the right or left, it would miss the mark BADLY. Like an Abilene with a giant hand cannon, you can’t count on all of Sidaris’ movies to be this fun or perfect in all the strange things and tiny plot points that are found in these 95 minutes.
I will always defend Andy as being lucky enough to make exactly the movies he wanted to watch. He understands elements that make for fun movie watching experiences whether you think he does or not. Yes, the movies are mostly childish and immature in the nature of how they deal with sexuality and inconsistently dressed women, but he’s doing exactly what he wanted to do and he was real good at it. So much so, there are ten movies left in this series.
Someday I will be getting back to Andy, but it won’t be in 2021 and it won’t take another 5 years, I promise. Next week, it’s a trio of scream queens in a fun little succubi movie – Nightmare Sisters! Be sure to get back here for that movie in half a fortnight. In the meantime, get over to Facebook to follow the B-Movie Enema page. You also need to get onto Twitter and follow B-Movie Enema there as well. You should definitely know by now that B-Movie Enema’s YouTube Channel is where it’s at for both clips that I use here in the articles as well as episodes of B-Movie Enema: The Series. We’re only about 3 months away from the start of Season #2 so subscribe and get ready for those new episodes!
See you all back here in a week, my dear Enemaniacs!