Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Ghoul Versus The Andy Sidaris Collection: Hard Ticket To Hawaii (Part 1)

I can't do a script, turn it over to a studio, have a reader read it, and have some kid out of college come to me and say 'That doesn't work for me'. I'm gonna kill the fucker, and I'll be in jail. It serves me well, and is cheaper, to finance my own movies.” - Andy Sidaris

We got introduced to the Andy Sidaris film style: bullets, bombs, and boobs! Something was missing though, something that's associated with his work almost as much as naked women: it didn't take place in Hawaii! Sure at the very end Luciana said she fled to Hawaii, but she totally didn't as the entire thing was filmed in California.

Enter Hard Ticket to Hawaii, which is what I'd say is the most famous of the Sidaris Collection by a landslide. It's become THE “go-to” movie people often use to initiate others into the world of Andy Sidaris, and has become so famous Paste Magazine actually named it the greatest B-movie OF ALL TIME, even ahead of Tommy Wiseau's The Room and the 1989 epic Samurai Cop. If THAT'S not high praise, I don't know what is. So let's get ready to see why this film is so beloved amongst fans of the wonder that is B-movies with A Ghoul Versus Hard Ticket To Hawaii!

We open with some scenery porn of Honolulu, then transition to a couple of the beach making out next to a boat called the Malibu Express, which should look a tad familiar if you saw the last film. The couple are introduced as Rowdy and Donna, both agents for the Drug Enforcement Agency. Donna is leaving in the morning to join the Hawaiian branch, despite Rowdy trying to talk her out of it. Donna is played by Sidaris' apparent muse Dona Speir, Playboy's Miss March 1984, who would go on to star in SIX MORE of his films. They quickly get the expository dialogue out of the way so Donna can show us her breasts, because the clock is a tickin'.

The next morning we follow two Hawaiian cops as they make their way to a drug lord's hideout for their monthly bribe. The older one mentions he's only a month away from retirement, so I expect to see him standing when the credits roll, dammit. They end up getting spooked because the operation is now larger than it should be, but end up getting killed by his goons. That takes us to our credits, which are played over shots of men in a warehouse loading up crates with the characters' names on them. That is pretty clever, I must admit.

Not so clever are the workers, who accidentally damage the constraints on a crate containing a “contaminated” live snake. The snake is a GLORIOUS looking puppet, even hissing at the camera for our benefit. Meanwhile, Donna drives out to a house to pick up her partner Taryn. Taryn is played by the gorgeous Hope Marie Carlton, Miss July 1985. Her introduction is chatting with Donna while taking off her bikini top to shower, so all is right in the world so far. Maybe not though, as we learn Taryn is in the federal witness protection program, yet has to... work in the DEA? Look, I've proven time and time again on this blog I'm not familiar with the finer points of government and that law but I'm FAIRLY certain that's not how the witness protection program works.

Another problem I have here is Donna and Taryn look identical. Not to be discriminatory against boobtastic blonde Playmates, but I can't tell these woman apart half of the time. It doesn't help they have the same hairstyle and dress almost exactly alike as well, so if I get them mixed up MY BAD YO. The two drive to the warehouse seen in the opening, where they pick up Donna's plane as she works ferrying people and cargo around the island. Wait, I thought she was a DEA agent? Surely that's a full time job! Apparently not though, this must be some bizarro-universe where all jobs function differently.

The job of the day involves transporting a pair of newlyweds in addition to taking a snake to a wildlife park where it'll star in its own exhibit. Naturally, the guys loading the plane manage to fuck this up and load our good friend the contaminated snake into the plane instead of the intended one. Our stars fire up the plane to segue into some more scenery porn of Hawaii, scored to the AWESOMELY 80's title track, “Hard Ticket to Hawaii” by Jay Molina.

The music video ending, we return to the warehouse where one of the workers realizes the momentous mistake that has occurred with the snakes. He tries to call Donna and Taryn via radio to warn them, but they've already landed the plane and are taking the newlyweds to a campsite. Transporting cargo, giving guided tours of Hawaii, being in the DEA seems like a TON of work! Elsewhere we meet some smugglers on a boat, who talk about how they've found the perfect plan to prevent the Coast Guard from getting too nosy as they guide a remote helicopter towards the beach. We see the thugs who killed the cops earlier racing towards the beach on ATVs, but the small chopper ends up landing in front of our heroes instead.

They investigate it and find two small cases inside, but before they can open them the thugs open fire on them. Taryn (?) responds by... throwing a pair of nunchucks at one of them while Donna (?) takes the other out with a throwing star she had hidden in her boot. Huh, kinda figured the DEA would use guns instead of ninja weapons but okay. The women retreat to their plane and take off, dropping one of the cases in the process. The thugs lament letting them get away, as they dread facing their boss Seth empty handed. The women fly back to Donna's home, Donna suggesting they “hit the jacuzzi” while they puzzle over what just happened to them. HA!

And speaking of Seth, he's the next character we get to meet as he's eating lunch at a posh restaurant across the island named Edy's, after its owner. This scene also features Andy Sidaris as a fast talking TV producer named Whitey trying to charm a lovely blonde named Charlotte, using dialogue that I imagine wasn't too far removed from the way he did casting in real life. Seth meets with his thugs outside, who give him the bad news/good news bit. The bad news being they lost the delivery to “a couple of broads”, but on the other hand were able to identify the plane the women escaped on. Seth dismisses the buffoons, vowing to get someone more competent to clean up this mess.

Returning to Donna's, we find the two lounging around the jacuzzi topless because that's what all women do, right? They open the case to find it filled with diamonds, realizing they're probably in some pretty deep shit with the local seedy underbelly of Honolulu. They decide to meet with Rowdy to figure this out, leaving the hot tub after completing what was probably one of the great exposition scenes in movie history. Blah blah blah BOOBS! Rowdy is on his boat, engaging in a kung fu training/near make-out session with his best bro, Jade. Seriously, I was expecting them to start locking lips any second. Jade is played by Harold Diamond, who is a real life kickboxer who went Hollywood after a very impressive career where he went undefeated.

Hard Ticket to Hawaii was Diamond's first “big break” in the biz, although he'd go on to bigger (?) fame with a bit part in Rambo III. He'd bounce around for the next couple of years until he got his first starring role: the lost cult classic Killing American Style, directed by the LEGENDARY director of the aforementioned Samurai Cop, Amir Shervan. Unfortunately for him, Killing American Style got an extremely limited release in the United States and only JUST came out on DVD in 2014. I hope to do a review of all of Shervan's phenomenal films sometime this year, if their asking prices ever come down to Earth because HOLY OVERPRICED MOVIES, Batman.

The homoerotic scene is interrupted by a delivery from the DEA (or the Agency as they call it), a note which signals the arrival of bad news. We don't get to find out what the news is, as the movie cuts back to Donna and Taryn who AREN'T rushing off to see Rowdy like the previous scene indicated, but instead are in Taryn's room talking about movies. Yeah, that whole impending death by drug lords can TOTES wait, after all. We see a Malibu Express poster hanging over Taryn's bed which leads to the revelation Cody is now a movie star and Rowdy is his cousin. As awesome as that is, it does make me wonder was Malibu Express just a movie Cody was acting in, or was it a real life story that they based a movie around? SIDARIS-CEPTION!

Things take a turn as a masked man and woman sneak into the house and attack Taryn while she's in the kitchen. The man grabs Donna and demands to know where the diamonds are, although demanding is way too strong of a word. He halfheartedly asks where they are, as he sounds about as excited to be here as he would being summoned by the IRS for an audit. Donna leads him out to the hangar, where she blindsides him and runs off, smashing the crate housing the deadly snake in the process. Uh oh! He's able to catch up to her pretty quickly, dragging her back into the house where the woman has forced Taryn to hand over the diamonds. However they think the women still have both cases, threatening they'll shoot them if they don't hand over the other container.

The drama is cut short by Seth, who is waiting outside for his diamonds. He sees the snake crawling around and freaks out, shooting at it. His cohorts think he's in trouble and run to help him, the drug lord now wanting nothing to do more than leave. They start piling into his car as the women run after them, Donna shooting Seth RIGHT IN THE FUCKING FACE. He's still alive though, jumping into the car and taking off into the night. Around this time Donna hears the radio on her plane going off, answering to speak with the worker from earlier. He finally warns her about the snake, which is infected with “deadly toxins from cancer infested rats”. I... don't think Sidaris knows much about biology either.

The women go to talk to Edy, who is played by another Sidaris regular named Cynthia Brimhall, because she works as a contact for the Agency. They ask if she's heard anything about Seth and diamonds but she hasn't, taking them to her office so they can call Rowdy. Oh yeah, HIM. Funny how they keep forgetting to do that. Things then shift to another patron in the restaurant named Jimmy John Jackson, who sits down at a table with two pro football players and goes on a lengthy dialogue about his different vitamin pills, lovingly describing each one in graphic detail. The players' response?

“Man, I sure love soul food!”
“Right on, bro.”

Umm... what?! They're not even eating any food, they're just sitting at a table drinking while some chucklehead talks about vitamins in such verbose detail I thought he was Christian Bale in American Psycho. So that... scene? I'm not even sure what to call it so let's go with “Movie Padding Event”, ends as we see the bar's female bartender hook a listening device up to the phone so she can eavesdrop on the Agency conversation in Edy's office. Rowdy orders his fellow agents to stay the night with Edy and then investigate Seth's beach house in the morning, saying they'll show up in the morning to help deal with the situation.

Seth gets his face patched up by his thugs when the bartender calls him to give him the heads up on his upcoming visitors. As she gets ready to leave Edy's with Donna, Taryn spots Jackson and since they used to date or something, goes up to talk to him. This cuts to a montage of them frolicking on the beach and having sex, and these women just don't give a fuck AT ALL, do they? It's kind of weird too because they're doing this at sunset, despite the previous scenes showing it was late at night. Unless this is the next day and Taryn blew off her assignment to get her swerve on, which really wouldn't surprise me at this point.

Click here for Part 2!