Not just the filmmaker, although I certainly miss that, but the man. After I interviewed him a decade ago, he’d call me at home every few months — sometimes to update me on his projects, sometimes to tell me he was sending something my way, and sometimes just to say hello. The guy was nice, friendly, funny, and promised to fly me to Louisiana for the shoot of his next opus, “Battle Zone Hawaii.”
Sadly, that movie never came to be, as Andy passed away March 7, 2007.
But he left us with an unofficial series of 12 fun flicks he wrote and directed (or “just” produced, in the case of two of them) between 1985 and 1998. Although they’ve been on DVD before, they’re now out-of-print and, thus, mega-pricey. Saving the day and your disposable income, Mill Creek Entertainment brings them all into one super-cheap, super-great, three-disc set, “Girls, Guns and G-Strings: The Andy Sidaris Collection.” Yes, the earlier standalone releases look better and have many extras, but this is a matter of owning them all for under $10 vs. hundreds.
If you thought his movies followed a formula, he’d be the first to say, “Hell, yes, they do!” He was a god for horny teens of the VHS heyday. He knew what audiences wanted, and gave it to them: big explosions and bigger boobs. Sidaris cast blank himbos opposite former Playboy centerfolds as spies, had them use remote-control technology to infiltrate a bad guy sometimes played by a has-been star, then blew crap up alongside them. At some point, often the end, they’d all hot tub together. It was — and is — genius.
To see one movie is to see them all, but if you like one, you’ll be dying to see them all — twice, thrice, even more! Unabashed, unapologetic, his movies were about nothing but blending T&A and TNT. The terrible acting is perfect for their tone. Andy knew his limitations, often joking that as a scriptwriter, he was like Hemingway; unfortunately, that’d be Margaux Hemingway.
But when it came to action — on the field, in the air, on water or in the bedroom — he delivered. He put his Emmy-winning days directing ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” to good use. While some may argue his films exploit women, others can say they were empowering. Yes, they frequently are naked, but so are the guys, and yet, it’s the ladies who are front and center as the gun-toting stars, the ass-kickers, the get-it-done gals.
B-movie vixen Sybil Danning is in the first one, 1985’s “Malibu Express.” Playmate Dona Spier headed a rotating regular cast of fellow stapled sex objects Roberta Vasquez, Cynthia Brimhall and Hope Marie Carlton for 1987’s “Hard Ticket to Hawaii,” which kicked off a string of six sequels, ending with 1993’s “Fit to Kill.” And “Ticket” also featured a toxin-infested snake. Oh, you’ve gotta see the snake.
For 1993’s “Enemy Gold” and the following year’s “The Dallas Connection,” son Christian Drew Sidaris took over Dad’s duties. One really can’t tell a difference, other than the new faces and bodies on display, notably Penthouse Pets Julie Strain and Julie K. Smith. But Andy was back in action and better than ever in his final two pictures, 1996’s “Day of the Warrior” and 1998’s “Return to Savage Beach,” adding Playmate Shae Marks to the already delicious mix, not to mention pro wrassler Marcus Bagwell.
You never knew who would show up. From 1990, “Guns” has Erik Estrada (TV’s ”CHiPs”) and Danny Trejo (“Machete”); 1991’s “Do or Die,” Estrada again and a genuine Oscar nominee in “The Karate Kid”’s Pat Morita. Even Tony Peck makes trouble for our top-heavy heroes in two of them. Who’s Tony Peck? He’s the son of Hollywood legend Gregory Peck. It brings a smile to my face to think that Atticus Finch may have enjoyed the Sidaris oeuvre.
I’ll be completely honest: For guys, it’s near-impossible not to. —Rod Lott