Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bullets, Bombs, and Babes!

Spotlight on: Andy Sidaris!

Andy Sidaris and some of his leading ladies.

    We got Showtime somewhere around 1979, and as a near-teen and into my first teen year, I was in absolute heaven. Here was a channel showing movies for a lot of hours each day (not sure that it was 24 hours a day when we first got it...) My favorite time each week was Friday night at 9pm (Central time, 10pm Eastern) when Showtime would premiere an action movie or thriller, usually chock full of the kind of graphic elements young men my age went AHHOOOOGAAA over.

One night I saw this flick called Seven. It had a guy I'd seen on TV and in some movies, William Smith, and in Seven he played the head of this group of good guy secret agents (can you guess how many?) and the movie was about their big operation to assassinate seven really bad guys. The trick to it was, they had to pull off the kills in seven different locations at roughly the same time to prevent any of the baddies from alerting the others. It was a very fast paced R rated movie, with scads of nudity, action, explosions, fights and derring-do. I thought the flick was a corker, and I tried to catch it any other time that month that I saw it airing, probably ending up seeing it three or four times. At that point in my movie fandom that was pretty much it - watch a movie, like it, watch it again if the chance arose. I didn't delve in to who made them or even very much into who starred in them.

    There was another movie on Showtime either a little before or a little after Seven aired called Stacey. It was about a female race car driver who moonlighted as a private detective, and the movie was about her investigation of a big family full of sleazes who were all into sleeping around and blackmailing each other. I kept it on for the whole time it was on the night it premiered, but I can't say I was glued to the screen as the movie had little action; it was mainly people skulking around a big mansion spying on each other.

Anne Randall, star of Stacey

There was a fair amount of nudity in the movie, and those scenes did catch my attention. But Stacey was not a fave, and my one partial viewing was all I needed at the time. However, I am no longer thirteen years old (regardless of how I act sometimes) so I'd really like to see this movie again and give it a fresh judgment. However, that may not be too easy, as we'll see in a bit.

    A few years after that I was living out in the boonies with no cable, but thankfully the Media Gods had seen fit to introduce VHS into my life, so I still had a way to watch uncut movies. In my senior year of high school I heard (who knows from where - I can only confirm it was not from the internet) that a movie called Malibu Express was worth checking out for anyone who liked movies with mystery, action, and lots of "nekkid chicks," as Joe Bob would say. I tracked it down - strangely it was not all that hard to find nudity laden movies even then in my hometown, as my little burg managed to have two video stores, plus rentable videos at the local convenience store and one furniture store (!); the smaller venues had some good exploitation here and there; one of the video stores was more family friendly, and the other one was just a step away from a curtained back room (which he might actually have had - just not on my radar as I was still not quite 18...)

Sybill Danning, her side/bottom cleavage, and
Darby Hinton. Malibu Express
    In any case, I enjoyed Malibu Express, and even then I noticed that the storyline was very similar to the one in Stacey, but in the newer version there was more action and a very knowing sense of humor - and that tongue in cheek factor made Malibu Express a very solid watch. This time I did do a little research, mainly by getting ahold of a small video release poster, which decorated my bedroom briefly, and later my college dorm room. Here it is:

The words "An Andy Sidaris Film" stuck out for me. So, a couple of years later, I'm still in college and still enjoying goofy movies like this, and I see this in a video store for rent:

And there were those words again - An Andy Sidaris Film. I grabbed that puppy up and promptly popped it in back at the ranch.

I wanted to put the actual movie poster in here - but for some reason HTtH is a very difficult poster to find. (However, the interweb is positively lousy with DVD covers for this flick.)

Okay, a scorecard. Here's how the movies progress:

Stacey - okay, pretty slow when you're thirteen.

Seven - really a lot of fun.

Malibu Express - fun, tiny bit slow (something inherent in the plot, since it is basically a remake of Stacey)

Hard Ticket to Hawaii - back to the level of fun found in Seven.

I'm kind of saving the reviews of the movies for individual posts as I've added most of the Malibu Bay Films roster to the Video Vault on DVD and I'm working my way back through them. But wow, I really enjoyed HTtH. Two hot women running, jumping, fighting, flying, and shooting their way through a bunch of gorgeous Hawaiian locations, with explosions, a wonderful model airplane, and a big rubber snake figuring in, and all wrapped up with a lot of eye candy nudity. For me, movies don't get much better.

So I started to dig in to who this Andy Sidaris was. And he turned out to be a pretty interesting guy. He had been in television for years and years, and was a very well known director of sports programming. He worked for ABC, and was the first director of Wide World of Sports when it started airing in 1961. He was the first sports director to cut away to the cheerleaders to give the viewer a quick dose of pulchritude in the midst of the action; this became known as the "honey shot." In 1969, Andy directed a racing documentary called The Racing Scene. But he really wanted to see what he could do with a fiction film, and in 1973 he made Stacey during some time off from ABC. The film did okay, playing theaters and drive ins a lot throughout the 70's, but Andy stuck to his day job. He did step out to direct one episode of three different TV shows in 1975 (Kojak - "No Immunity for Murder"); 1976 (Gemini Man - "Eight-Nine-Ten, You're Dead"); and 1977 (The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries - "Mystery of the Solid Gold Kicker"). In 1979 he produced and directed Seven, but avoided any other episodic television assignments and instead continued calling the shots on WWoS, each weekend bringing us "the thrill of victory...the agony of defeat..." It took six more years before he bought the world a ticket on the Malibu Express.
    Then, he left ABC's Wide World of Sports in 1986. Not sure why, but it apparently opened his options up and that's when he made Hard Ticket to Hawaii. And at this point Malibu Bay Films really took off. With his wife Arlene now producing, across the next ten years, Andy wrote and directed 8 more of these T+A Action flicks, and produced with Arlene two more that were written and directed by his son.

Now, if you watch some Andy Sidaris movies, you're going to notice there's an eye for the ladies; each flick packed with wall to wall lovelies who are quite willing to "pop their tops" as needed. Which is apparently constantly, based on how often they do it. But don't worry - Andy wasn't hurting when he went home either - take a look at the Mrs...

Arlene Sidaris - movie producer, wife,
mother, smokin' hot lady.

But I digress. Here's the whole breakdown:


Andy's movies use a lot of Playboy Playmates for the female roles, and a lot of soap opera hunks for the guys. One very fun aspect of the first several flicks is that among the male leads in the first 8 movies are members of the Abilene family (Cody - Darby Hinton in Malibu Express; Rowdy - Ronn Moss in Hard Ticket; Travis - Steve Bond in Picasso Trigger; and Shane - Michael Shane for five straight from Savage Beach to Fit to Kill)

Cody Abilene and pals.

The Abilene boys (Brothers? Cousins? No idea - just go with it) are fun loving good old boys with one very funny liability - not a one can shoot worth a damn, a long running gag that works very well.

Rowdy Abilene and friend.


Across the Big Twelve, the same actors show up time and again, often as the same character, but others play several roles, switching sides from good to bad with wild abandon from film to film. This adds to the fun as it's like seeing old friends each time you sit down with one of these flicks.

Another cool thing are the locations in the movies. The first couple stick to Hawaii only, then they start to expand out - but usually to the same places - Las Vegas, Texas, Lousiana, and Lake Havasu, Arizona (current location of the London Bridge - ?) in addition to the regular shoots in Hawaii. There are also stops in Washington DC and Paris. What's great is that unlike most movies like this, which make do with stock establishing shots, then faking the locations - Andy and Arlene really made their movies in the locations. The only time they diverted from this was Washington - which was faked. But the funny thing is, the stock shots are real footage shot for the movie! It seems one of their regular crew members was headed to DC to visit family, so clever Andy sent the camera rig with him, and the guy got Malibu Bay a couple of nice, new, crisp establishing shots that completely match the rest of the movie they're put into! I love stories like that!

A busy year for the Sidaris clan, obviously!

In addition to his regular cast, Andy started attracting familiar faces to his movies; Guns has Erik Estrada and Chuck McCann of TV's Far Out Space Nuts. Another aspect of the Malibu Bay Films is that the ladies are the driving force in the heroics. Usually the good guy gang in these flicks is weighted with more ladies than laddies, and the women handle the action and the weapons as well as (if not better when the lad's an Abilene) than the men. I'm not sure Andy and Arlene ever used this phrase - female empowerment - but it's definitely in these movies. Along with a wagonload of gratuitous nudity. Huzzah!


Pat Morita is the crime kingpin in Do or Die, and Erik Estrada encores. One of the other aspects that might sound weird is that all of these movies, for all the violence and nudity, are really not sleazy. The profanity is kept to a minimum and what there is stays at the level of TV cussing; while the female stars are threatened and shot at - the bad guys don't make like slasher movie killers and hack them up with large blades; and the incredibly clever filmmakers very purposely shoot most all of their nude scenes sans dialogue, and back them up during shooting with PG or PG-13 level similar shots - closeups that stay at cleavage level; backs turned but no tushies, etc - that can be easily layed in where the more graphic nudity is, with no complicated sound work to make this a daunting or expensive process.

This makes the films available for late night TV play on regular cable or what used to be broadcast stations, though it seems Spike is the only network willing to give one of the Big Twelve occasional play these days. *sigh*

Sorry for the quality on this one - couldn't find a better one...

One of Andy's and Arlene's funniest and most wonderful decisions for the next in the series was to replace the non-returning Pat Morita as the Asian kingpin Kane with Roger Moore's son Geoffrey, credited in the film as R.J. Moore! So Roger's not the only Moore with some strange casting (Italian mobster's son - Nazi - Inspector Clouseau) on his resume!


With Fit to Kill, Andy and Arlene were introduced to a statuesque brunette named Julie Strain, a woman with so much of everything (hair, store boughten boobs, makeup, height, leg length) that she's really a human comic book - even more so than Pam Anderson - and she did so well for them in her role that she basically became a member of the family - appearing in everything Malibu Bay Films produced from this flick through the behind the scenes featurettes on the DVD releases in the 2000's.

Another busy year as Dad Sidaris hands the reins over to
Junior for a couple of flicks - Drew Sidaris brings the world:

After sharing an equal portion of the previous poster with Dona Speir, Julie Strain takes this one over as the largest figure present. This continues pretty much for the rest of the series, although from this point forward the posters were again hard to find - and I think everything below is a DVD cover instead. But you won't be able to miss Julie Strain - that much is for sure.

Drew Sidaris again in the writer/director seat, with mom and dad producing:


And the end of an era as Andy and Arlene go back for a --

By this time the film and video market had greatly changed, which accounts for the slow down in Malibu Bay Films' production for the last four years of the 20th century. Andy pointed out in interviews than in the 80's you could presell the foreign release of each movie and pretty much make the budget back - leaving the domestic release, video, and cable TV sales for profits. But that had changed in the late 90's. The couple had always financed their own pictures, and unwilling to seek out partner investors who would have a say in the productions, Andy and Arlene cruised into the 21st century by bringing the already produced Big Twelve to the World Wide Web, launching AndySidaris.com and selling the product yet again, this time along with posters and other memorabilia.

As the DVD revolution geared up, the Sidarises used their extensive production facilities and talents to produce copious amounts of behind the scenes features and packing each DVD release to the gills. In addition to the usual commentaries, and introductions featuring Andy, Arlene, and Julie Strain (frequently fully nude in these unrated clips - the woman is not shy. Seriously.). Andy also made a series of features he called Film School, with raw footage from the movies and voiceovers from Andy and Arlene explaining how they made their movies, and how new filmmakers might benefit from their know-how. These are some terrific additions to the movie discs, adding a lot of extra bang for your DVD buck.
Finally, in the mid 2000's Malibu Bay Films geared back up for a new production to be called Battlezone Hawaii, with the plan of bringing back as many of the old familiar faces as they could round up. Before the movie could go into production, however, Andy was diagnosed with cancer, and the Sidarises turned their efforts to helping Andy fight his biggest battle, letting the movie go by the wayside. Sadly, Andy lost that fight on March 7th, 2007. And we all lost something that day. A man everyone describes as one of the best, brightest, funniest people they'd ever met. And movie fans lost something else in addition. No one has picked up the reins of this particular subgenre since. I found one movie that truly looked like the child of the Malibu Bay Films. It was called Crazy Girls Undercover - and I went in eyes a blazin'. But the filmmakers of this film just didn't have the talent, the knowledge, the spark that Andy brought to his movies. I was so disappointed in the flick I let Buddha Man handle the review - you can check it out in one of his posts.

But we have the Big Twelve to watch - all available still from AndySidaris.com, still maintained by Arlene as a loving tribute to her husband. Stacey and Seven are a different matter, unfortunately. Although both were put out on videotape (Stacey only on Beta though - !) and both played cable incessantly back in the day, the rights are not held by Arlene, and whoever does own the rights has shown no interest in putting either movie out on DVD. There are "grey market" DVDs available on the internet, but how I wish someone would get ahold of these things and put them out in a special edition DVD and/or Blu-Ray.

Until that happens, I recommend checking out some Andy Sidaris movies - there's nothing quite like them! And watch for some reviews to appear soon!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. Fascinating. Wish we could turn back the clock on the film industry. There's no such thing as a B movie any more, and we don't have these barnstorming producer/directors. Drag!

  2. That Stacey poster makes me laugh!

  3. I loved Seven for Barbara Leigh and Susan Kiger. I never have been able to find Stacey. Seven is not on DVD and never airs anymore.

  4. Elliot - yes, they are both incredibly easy on the eyes. I have managed to track both movies down recently - I've seen Seven, Stacey is still on the To Watch pile - reviews will be appearing at some point. Thanks for coming by!

  5. 70´s : Seven
    80´s : Hard Ticket to Hawai
    90´s : The Dallas Connection

    You can find Seven in share sites but wirh some East European subs.
    wonderful review. Sidaris Forever

  6. Good overview of the Sidaris filmography. Having recently watched Malibu Express, I'm very interested in checking out the rest of the Malibu Bay films. After reading about it here, sounds like Seven is one I need to look for as well.

    - Cody