Scantily-clad crime fighters Donna (Dona Speir) and Taryn (Hope Marie Carlton) stumble across a cache of diamonds whilst flying tourists along the sun-drenched Hawaiian islands. Said gems belong to Seth Romero (Rodrigo Obregón), seedy bar owner/crime kingpin, who sends his eccentric goons after the busty duo. As if that weren’t enough, the girls have another problem in the slithery form of a toxin-infected snake that snuck aboard their plane and is now snarfing hapless tourists across the island. Not to worry, because the girls have an ally in oh-so-buff-and-handsome D.E.A. agent Rowdy Abilene (Ronn Moss) who arrives with his ponytailed karate expert pal, Jade (Harold Diamond). Aided by a transvestite spy (Michael A. Andrews) and a bikini-clad musclewoman (Lory Green), Romero abducts pneumatic undercover agent Edy Stark (Cynthia Brimhall), prompting Rowdy and the girls to ride to the rescue.
Hot off the back of his babes-and-bullets cult classic Malibu Express (1985), B-movie auteur Andy Sidaris minted his home video hit-making formula with Hard Ticket to Hawaii. No less silly than its predecessor yet equally ingratiating, this film established a weird postmodern trope within the Sidaris universe wherein Cody Abilene, hunky hero of the director’s previous feature, has abandoned crime-fighting to pursue a career as a movie star. In fact, a poster for Malibu Express along with several vintage Sidaris pictures adorns the bedroom of movie fan Taryn, who fantasises about being rescued-then-banged by James Bond, claiming any one of the actors would be worth her time. Bless her.
Replacing Cody, we have his cousin Rowdy, ably embodied by the handsome and personable Ronn Moss who brings goofball charm to his ridiculous role. Check out his ad-libbed reaction the moment Donna pulls out an enormous handgun that dwarfs his puny pistol. Moss’ self-deprecating turn encapsulates the performances as a whole, which are best described as ropey but enthusiastic. Playboy Playmates Dona Spier and Hope Marie Carlton prove particularly perky and engaging as ball-busting beach bunnies Donna and Taryn whom Sidaris revived in several more films well into the Nineties.
Like most of Sidaris’ output, Hard Ticket to Hawaii comes across like a raunchier episode of an Eighties action show. Something like Airwolf or The Fall Guy with bare breasts and blood. Sidaris pitched his sunny softcore fantasies at adolescent boys and undiscriminating twenty-somethings but struck a neat balance between titillating thrills and good-natured fun that did not alienate female viewers. After all, his wife Arlene Sidaris served as producer on all his films. Sidaris’ silicone starlets may doff their duds every five minutes but they kick plenty of ass and are most definitely in on the joke, which is more than can be said of many so-called erotic thrillers. Penned by Sidaris, the defiantly juvenile script is often disarmingly witty including a cameo from the man himself spoofing his parallel career as a live sports broadcast director plus a hilarious monologue delivered by pro-footballer Jimmy John Jackson (Wolf Larson) extolling the virtues of steroid abuse. Lucky J.J. gets Taryn naked for one of several gratuitous love scenes as time and again, these so-called detectives prove more interested in humping in a hot tub than cracking the case.
With spectacular scenery provided by the Kaluahoi resort in Hawaii, the combination of sun-kissed beaches and bronzed bodies proves suitably seductive, though Sidaris’ lacklustre TV-style staging undoes some of his more outrageously conceived action set-pieces. This is the one with the skateboarding assassin inexplicably wielding an inflatable sex-doll. Meanwhile Rowdy, amusingly characterised as a piss-poor shot, fights back with a six-shot bazooka and razor-edged frisbee! However the finale, with Donna caught between the snake in a toilet bowl and the bloodied but stubbornly persistent villain, proves both ludicrous and genuinely suspenseful, lifting a trick or two off Halloween (1978) of all things.