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Ventura presents
The Andy Sidaris Collection: Volume 1 (1985-1993)

"Bullets, Bombs and Babes."
- tagline

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: July 22, 2003

Stars: Darby Hinton, Sybil Danning, Brett Clark, Lorraine Michaels, Lynda Wiesmeier, Ronn Moss, Hope Marie Carlton, Dona Speir, Rodrigo Obregon, Steve Bond, John Aprea, Cynthia Brimhall, Michael Shane, Erik Estrada, Suzi Simpson, Julie Strain, Tai Collins, Roberta Vasquez
Other Stars: Shelly Taylor Morgan, Suzanne Regard, Busty O'Shea, Abb Dickson, Art Metrano, John Brown, Lori Sutton, Barbara Edwards, Kimberly McArthur, John Alderman, Peter Bromilow, Harold Diamond, Rustam Branaman, Wolf Larson, Patty Duffek, Lory Green, Michael A. Andrews, Richard LePore, Bruce Penhall, Kym Malin, Liv Lindeland, Guich Koock, Michael Mikasa, Al Leong, Phyllis Davis, Chuck McCann, Danny Trejo, Donna Spangler, Devin Devasquez, Mark Barriere, Alan Abelew, Stacy Lynn Brown, Angela Wright
Director: Andy Sidaris, Drew Sidaris

MPAA Rating: R for (violence, language, nudity)
Run Time: 09h:24m:08s
Release Date: July 22, 2003
UPC: 634991157520
Genre: action


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B+BB- A-

DVD Review

Watching an Andy Sidaris film really requires a viewer to turn off his or her (though I suspect the primary demo is male) high-brow cinema aesthetics, and settle into that purely primitive and vacuous void where the only requirement is big, noisy guns, stuff blowing up, and beautiful women frequently taking their tops off. His mantra is "bullets, bombs and babes", and he is a veritable independent genre auteur, to say the least. Ventura has assembled this impressive boxset called The Andy Sidaris Collection: Volume I, which pulls together five of his films (Malibu Express, Hard Ticket To Hawaii, Picasso Trigger, Savage Beach, Guns), and a sixth, (Enemy Gold), which was written and directed by his son Drew. A second volume is scheduled for 2004, and is will include the remaining six films in the library.

Sidaris, after thirty years as an award-winning producer/director at ABC Sports, settled on the brilliant concept of casting Playboy Playmates in hoky action movies that he would write, direct and produce, with an equal smattering of comedy, action and nudity. This is late-night cable B-movie turf all the way, and when I recently spoke with Sidaris, he proudly declared that his films "look like $3 million dollar pictures made for $1 million."

The man has found a formula that works, and while the acting is all over the map and the plots are silly, it is the bountiful presence of the Playmates that really makes a Sidaris film the campy fun that it is. Over the years Dona Speir, Roberta Vasquez, Hope Marie Carlton and Cynthia Brimhall have found recurring roles in his movies, and the opportunity to watch stuff like Hard Ticket To Hawaii, Picasso Trigger and Guns back-to-back with this set gives the whole package the feel of a really sexy television show. The reassurance that the girls are never too far from a hot tub or a shower is a large part of what makes a Sidaris film a Sidaris film.


Malibu Express (1985)
01h:42m:56s

"That's what we call hard evidence." - Lt. Arledge

This was Sidaris' second foray into the guns-and-skin genre (after 1979's Seven), and it is easily one of his corny best. Darby Hinton stars as private investigator Cody Abilene, a transplanted Texan living on the title yacht in bikini-dominated California. Hinton's slightly simple Abilene might be hunky, be he can't shoot straight to save his life, and when finds himself investigating a murder he has to call on his others skills to eventually unravel the truth. There's a lot of tacky banjo-fied country music on the soundtrack, and the nonsensical story is just an excuse to parade around topless women.

Of course that's the real appeal of a Sidaris film—the women, and he really piles on the beauties here, featuring not just the legendary Sybil Danning (who wears an array of gravity-defying outfits), but Playboy Playmates Barbara Edwards, Lorraine Michaels, Kimberly McArthur and Lynda Wiesmeier in all manner of undress. One-time General Hospital resident Shelley Taylor Morgan shows up as a sex-starved tennis instructor, and she experiences quite a bit of trouble staying in her clothes, too.

This is pure drive-in material, and while maybe not as heavy on gun-toting babes as some of Sidaris' other titles, this one has more than its fair share of gratuitous nudity and cheap laughs.


Hard Ticket To Hawaii (1987)
01h:36m:32s

"Drug enforcement is no job for a girl like you." - Rowdy Abilene

Playboy centerfold Dona Speir debuts what would become for her a recurring Sidaris character, starring as rough-and-tumble undercover agent Donna Hamilton. Fellow gatefold icon Hope Marie Carlton teams up with Dona in sunny Hawaii to stop some ruthless drug lords, recover some stolen diamonds, and do battle with a mutated giant snake. And to balance out the abundant breasts in Hard Ticket To Hawaii, the well-chiseled Ronn Moss and Harold Diamond serve as manly federal agent backup for Dona and Hope, as well as love interests. Cynthia Brimhall plays Edy, the well-stacked restaurant owner who gets kidnapped and threatened with bodily harm by a highly buffed Lory Green. Patty Duffek, in a brief role, has one of the better comic moments with a cross-dressing Michael A. Andrews (who did a similar schtick in Malibu Express).

Sidaris really moved into his low-budget James Bond mode with Hard Ticket To Hawaii, not just by introducing a batch of what would become recurring characters, but by boosting the explosion count significantly (helicopters, skateboarders), tossing in bigger guns (including a rocket launcher), adding martial arts battles, and introducing a slightly prissy, effeminate European villain named Mr. Chang (Peter Bromilow) who gets to growl a great line before getting his just desserts.


Picasso Trigger (1988)
01h:39m:41s

"The Picasso Trigger, as painted by world-renowned Guillermo Esteban, is a creature conceived in beauty, who protects his life with a fierce brutality seldom experienced by most men." - Picasso Trigger

An ambitious outing, location-wise, with a story that jumps from France to Hawaii to Dallas to Vegas, as former General Hospital hunk Steve Bond stars as yet another gun-toting Abilene boy, this time named Travis. Sidaris stacks up a whopping seven Playboy Playmates in this one, including the return of Dona Speir, Hope Marie Carlton and Cynthia Brimhall (and most of the "good guys" from Hard Ticket To Hawaii), and introduces top-heavy Roberta Vasquez as undercover agent Pantera. When a slimy crime lord code named "Picasso Trigger" (John Aprea) is assassinated after donating a painting of the film's title fish, all hell breaks loose as federal agents become targets of a vengeful associate.

Explosions are plentiful, including a car, a boat, a jeep, a motorcycle, and even a boomerang. The Sidaris trademark remote-control-vehicles-strapped-with-explosives appear in Picasso Trigger, this time a plane and a car, and provide the necessary convenient pyrotechnics in between the bountiful bosoms. Wonderfully weird moments abound, including Travis Abilene's heat-seeking crutch gun, and the boot-stomping dance sequence with Patty Duffek and Kym Malin.


Savage Beach (1989)
01h:35m:12s

"Donna Hamilton, Drug Enforcement Officer. Here's my badge. There's my warrant." - Donna Hamilton

The theme this time around is long-lost wartime gold from 1941, and Dona Speir and Hope Marie Carlton reprise their roles as agents Donna Hamilton and Taryn Kendall who team up (briefly) with another buff member of the endless Abilene clan, Shane, played Playgirl model Michael Shane. When Donna and Taryn's Molokai Cargo plane crash lands on a deserted South Seas island, after delivering serum to a kid's hospital, what are the odds it is the same island that nasty Martinez (Sidaris thug Rodrigo Obregon) believes is the hiding place of a cache of gold bars? Pretty good, I'll bet. And is that a Japanese soldier I see? I just hope there's time for a nude frolic on the beach at sunset...

Savage Beach is a slicker looking product than the preceding three films in the series, and even the credit sequences look more polished. The obligatory explosions are limited to a van, briefcase, tree and raft, and the usual array of goofy weapons is actually kept to a minimum. In a great bit of Sidaris-worthy casting for the gratuitous nudity department, Playboy Playmate-turned adult film star Teri Weigel plays a sultry assassin named Angelica.


Guns (1990)
01h:36m:58s

"This is a simple assassination. I want a clean hit." - Jack of Diamonds

The back cover touts this one as a "sexy spoof of License To Kill", though the only real parallel I could see was that the story is centered around revenge, and maybe that's a little loose to fully justify the spoof moniker. Regardless, Guns has Sidaris once again showcasing Dona Speir as tough and sexy federal agent Donna Hamilton, this time teamed up with Roberta Vasquez as Nicole Justin, fresh from her turn as knife-toting double-agent Pantera in 1988s Picasso Trigger. A retro oddball casting coup has one-time CHiPs star Erik Estrada appearing as the vengeful Degas, aka The Jack of Diamonds, so named for the playing cards left at the site of his hits. Estrada struts around, firing big weapons at innocent grass shacks, and he even succumbs to an onscreen love scene with fellow villain Devin Devasquez. Go Ponch!

The regular Sidaris crew is whittled down slightly here, with the departure of Hope Marie Carlton, but to make up for that loss Cynthia Brimhall's recurring character Edy Stark has advanced from restaurant owner to Las Vegas singer, and she even croons the film's title tune. Explosions consist of the aforementioned grass shack, a motorcycle, an ultralite plane and a raft, and if you count flashback footage from Picasso Trigger, then there is a bonus blown up car.

Picture-perfect Sidaris moments include Dona Speir in a Frederick's of Hollywood getup blasting away at a pair of ninjas, and Chuck McCann's bizarre "crazy magician" interrogation scene of two bad guys.


Enemy Gold (1993)
01h:32m:46s

"You've got to stop thinking of me as just another pretty face." - Becky Midnite

The volume 1 boxset forsakes Andy Sidaris' 1991 Do Or Die and 1993s Fit To Kill (both of which are slated to be part of volume 2) for 1993s Enemy Gold, written and directed by his son Drew Sidaris. Based on this outing, it seems pretty clear that Drew has a good "handle" on the family business (this was his second directorial gig, after 1992s Hard Hunted), as he ladles out a familiar tale of sexy agents, evil villains, and, of course, things blowing up.

This time buried Civil War treasure is the underlying theme, and a trio of federal agents (Suzi Simpson, Bruce Penhall, Mark Barriere) find themselves fighting for their lives against crime lord Carlos Santiago (Rodrigo Obregon) and Amazonian exotic dancer/assassin Jewel Panther (Julie Strain). Simpson's federal agent Becky Midnite, who loves to use an outdoor shower, is often outfitted in a tiny stars-and-stripes bikini and kicks ass and takes names as she plows through the usual dangers and double-crosses with a specially-equipped crossbow. Keen-eared observers will likely catch the same arrow-that-explodes-three-seconds-after-penetration double entendre that was used in Savage Beach.

Explosion are limited to a pickup truck, a fuel storage shed, a bad guy, and a helicopter (what Sidaris film is complete without that signature shot?), and the subplot about Santiago's strip club operation provides the opportunity for additional eye candy.

Some may call it formulaic and sexist, but if you occasionally crave things exploding and frequent nudity, you can't do much better than an Andy Sidaris project. This boxset is a cornucopia of everything that is right with B-movies.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: All of the discs are presented in 1.33:1 fullframe, and the prints themselves look generally quite good. The oldest of the six films, Malibu Express, is a little soft in the color palette, especially when held up against the more recent Enemy Gold, which has the deepest, brightest colors of the bunch. Grain, most notably on the older titles, is a minor flaw, but all transfers are remarkably free of any major defects or damage.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is of the straight-forward 2.0 stereo variety, and while it isn't particularly deep and robust, it serves the material decently. Dialogue is reproduced cleanly, and the whole presentation is adequate without being showy.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 72 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
12 Other Trailer(s) featuring Hard Ticket To Hawaii, Picasso Trigger, Savage Beach, Malibu Express, Guns, Do or Die, Hard Hunted, Fit to Kill, Enemy Gold, Dallas Connection, Day of the Warrior, Return to Savage Beach
6 Documentaries
6 Feature/Episode commentaries by Andy Sidaris, Arlene Sidaris
Packaging: Box Set
Picture Disc
6 Discs
6-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Production Stills
  2. Web Links
Extras Review: All of the discs feature full-length scene-specific commentaries from Andy and Arlene Sidaris, and while maybe not heavy on technical insight, they are fun, breezy tracks that are half mocking, half serious. Andy spends a lot of time remarking how beautiful the women are, poking fun at the storylines, and pointing out where various scenes were shot. Some of his comments are maybe overstated ("Rodrigo Obregon is the best actor in the world, bar no one."), but the tracks are easily as enjoyable as the films.

Here are the unique supplementals from each disc:

Malibu Express
Behind The Scenes With Andy Sidaris is broken down into six separate sections, viewable independently or with the Play All option. In Andy & Julie Talk (04m:00s), Andy and Arlene Sidaris, along with Julie Strain and John Brown, make small talk, but it's really an excuse for Strain to drop her top (again). The Film School "action" portion (09m:22s) has Andy and Arlene using footage from Return To Savage Beach to narrate how an action scene is shot. We're shown master shots, medium close-ups, tight close-ups, and ultimately the finished sequence. There is also some footage of Carrie Westcott flubbing her lines. Also provided is a "sexy" Film School piece (09m:20s), with Andy and Arlene offering commentary on how another scene from Return To Savage Beach was shot, this time centering on a sequence featuring the nude, Jessica Rabbit-like body of Shae Marks. In addition to the variety of different shots and coverage, Sidaris shows the footage shot for the soft-R version, as well as the television version. As with the action segment, the finished scene is included.

There is also a Suzi Simpson Featurette (05m:45s) where Simpson discusses her pivotal outdoor shower scene from Enemy Gold, and surprise, said footage is included here; Andy, Arlene and Julie Strain (topless again) comment pleasantly on Simpson's talents. The John Brown Interview (05m:30s) showcases muscleman Brown goofing around with Andy, as well as answering the questions of unnamed German interviewer (in German, no less). Brown talks about his bodybuilding career and his latest profession, clothes designer. Julie Strain drops her top again while modeling Brown's creations. Wrapping it up is a Cynthia Brimhall Featurette (09m:10s), and if you've picked up the pattern so far, you'll realize that the "interview" is going include nude footage of Brimhall from some of her Sidaris projects (Guns, Do or Die, Picasso Trigger).

Hard Ticket To Hawaii
Behind The Scenes With Andy Sidaris (36m:51s) is a hodge-podge of great material, featuring Andy, Arlene, Julie Strain, Jessica Lee and Dona Speir chatting about all manner of things. We learn a little about the writing, casting and overall philosophy, and get to see Hi-8 continuity footage from a Dona Speir love scene (along with the finished product), as well as a Julie Strain photo shoot. The Andy Sidaris Film School returns here to wrap up this segment with analysis and breakdown from the man himself on how to shoot an action scene and a love scene. You want excessive Julie Strain nudity? You've got it

Picasso Trigger
Behind The Scenes with Andy Sidaris (36m:11s) shows off more of Julie Strain with photo shoot in the Sidaris household, and tosses in some more footage from the Joe Bob Briggs show with Dona Speir and Roberta Vasquez. The Film School portion, with commentary from Andy and Arlene, does another in-depth analysis of two more scenes from Return To Savage Beach, one with Shae Marks on a jet ski (!) and one with Julie K. Smith doing her memorable "naughty cop" dance.

Savage Beach
Behind The Scenes with Andy Sidaris (43m:55s) follows the now familiar pattern, starting with some idle chatter between Andy and Julie Strain before launching into another set of Film School sequences using more footage from Return To Savage Beach to show what it takes to shoot a scene. The "action" scene has Julie K. Smith using a remote controlled tank to take out a ninja, and the "sexy" scene highlights a Shae Marks love scene. To fill in the cracks, Arlene interviews the couple who built the Molokai Cargo plane model used in Savage Beach, and a couple of unrelated interview segments round out the segment.

Guns
Behind The Scenes with Andy Sidaris (58m:11s) clocks in at nearly an hour on this disc, and in addition to the expected chatter with a topless Julie Strain, Andy also interviews Devin Devasquez. After some clips from her Playboy video, Devin is also briefly interviewed (in her bedroom) by Arlene Sidaris, and we learn of Devin's Elvis and Barbie fascination. The Film School segment once again tracks the creation of two scenes from Return To Savage Beach, one (the "action" scene) with Julie Strain battling some poolside ninjas, and the other (the "sexy" scene) featuring Carrie Westcott as a high-tech thief disguised as a roller-skating pizza delivery girl in skin-tight, low-cut red leather. Also provided is footage from Joe Bob Briggs' show, where he interviews (separately) Roberta Vasquez and Andy Sidaris.

Enemy Gold
Behind The Scenes with Andy Sidaris (43m:00s) offers more topless Julie Strain, and includes footage of an interview she did for a German entertainment show, where apparently nudity is not an issue. The Film School segment incorporates and analyzes the setup of two scenes from Return To Savage Beach, an "action" scene with Shae Marks and Julie K. Smith, and a "sexy" scene with a poolside Julie Smith. The highpoint (after Shae Marks and Julie K. Smith, of course) is an interview with Andy and Arlene, taped in their home, discussing their unique creative and casting process, which features even more Shae Marks, if that were possible. The segment wraps with footage from a Joe Bob Briggs interview with both Andy and Drew.

Each disc also features a set of twelve Sidaris trailers, bios for Andy and Arlene, a unique set of 20 never-before-seen Production Stills from their personal collection, and a fold-out color booklet with photos and poster concept art. All films are cut into 12 chapters, and do not feature any subtitles.

As an added bonus, included with the boxset is a full-color limited edition preview of the upcoming Spy Chicks comic book, with pen-and-ink renditions of Julie Strain, Julie Smith and Shae Marks. Danger Girl, eat your heart out.

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

Ventura and Andy Sidaris have done quite a job strapping together six of these busty B-movie classics into one smart boxset, each disc loaded with commentaries and extra behind-the-scenes goodies. The set even includes a comic book.

An overdose of low-brow, gratuitous silliness to be sure; the set is easily and most certainly highly recommended to all B-movie fans.

 


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