Nothing is more important to the concept of Yakmala than intention. Our most ironclad rule, the one that has not changed a single iota in our seven year lifespan is the Intention of Quality. This states that before a film can be included in the Yakmala canon, there must be some evidence that the filmmakers at least attempted to make a good movie. This is why Batman and Robin has been continually rejected for inclusion. Yes, it’s terrible and Governor Schwarzenegger is hilarious, but director Joel Schumacher has gone on record that the film was created only as a feature-length toy commercial. It’s this rule that keeps out the entire catalogue of Troma and Syfy out of our screenings as well. Intention is also important in that it defines what makes a bad movie in the first place. This can be somewhat difficult to determine, as directors have been known to retcon the purpose of their own films, claiming they were making an offbeat comedy when it’s plain they were doing nothing of the kind.
This brings me to the subject of my brand new twelve part series on the films of Andy Sidaris. Though he started out directing television mainstays like Kojak and Monday Night Football, Sidaris is mostly known for the final thirteen-year stretch of his career from 1985-98, when he wrote and directed softcore action flicks. Any man who had cable during that period probably has hazy yet fond memories of at least one of them, most likely an impossibly gorgeous woman firing an automatic weapon at some guy driving a speedboat. Also, boobs. Boy howdy, were there boobs. Just… just everywhere.
Andy Sidaris more or less made exactly the kind of movies he was trying to make, which is why this is not a Yakmala review. He cast Playboy Playmates as a point of pride, even singling them out in the credits, so it’s tough to complain about their wooden acting, since he was after a different kind of wood. He wasn’t an unskilled director either, having won an Emmy for his work on the TV coverage of the 1960 Summer Olympics. Yet his movies aren’t what you’d really call “good,” unless you’re a teenaged boy who lived before the Internet (in which case, you wouldn’t call them “good,” you’d call them “HOLY LIVING FUCK THESE ARE AWESOME!”). I wouldn’t be talking about them at all, but my cousin bought me a DVD set of twelve Sidaris films, and since another such gift was responsible for my 10 part series on Very Special Blossoms, I figured why the hell not. Without further ado:
Malibu Express (1985)
Cast: Darby Hinton as Cody Abilene. With that pair of names, I assumed Darby Hinton to be one of the interchangeable nude models, b-movie nowhere girls, and fading stars for which Sidaris films are infamous. Nope, turns out he was just a working class actor and Lindsey Hunter All-Star. He seems to serve chiefly as the film’s main mustache vector.
Sybil Danning as Contessa Luciana. A Queen of the Bs already in her late thirties when starring in this one, Danning was that bizarre ‘80s ideal of fried blonde hair, leathery skin, and booming voice. Also, she was almost Octopussy. That’s a good movie. I must have seen it… twice?
Art Metrano as Matthew the heavy. If you remember him at all, it’s as Lieutenant/Captain/Commandant Mauser in the second and third Police Academy movies.
Playmate quotient: Lorraine Michaels as Liza Chamberlain, Lynda Wiesmeier as June Khnockers, Kimberly McArthur as Faye, Barbara Edwards as May. As you can probably guess, Faye and May are entirely throwaway roles. They’re two women who really want to have a threeway with Cody, but he reacts with confusion and annoyance every time they try. Maybe he thinks “threesome” is code for a tax audit? And yeah, there’s a character with the last name of Khnockers. She spends a lot of the movie topless, in a choice that surprises no one. Liza Chamberlain, though, is actually important to the plot! So her nudity is all… diagetic or whatever. I don’t know what that means. And yes, the credits list all four women proudly as Playboy Playmates, so I’m doing the same.
IMDB Plot Keywords: Blackmail, Palm Springs California, Lust, Thong Panties, Unwanted Kiss
IMDB User Lists Appearing On: Worst Movies of All Time, idiotic movies I enjoyed, Le Creme de la Sleaze, 80s Sex Comedies
Synopsis: As though to establish that yes, this is 1985, Sidaris introduces our hero as he pulls up in a cherry red Delorean and steps out of the gull wing door. He’s rocking a mustache that shouldn’t be attempted by anyone not involved in either the highway patrol or gay pornography. His high-waisted jeans show off a mighty moose knuckle. He carries a briefcase with a holstein cow coating, inside of which is a lovingly attended .44 magnum. He shoots at some targets, and it turns out he’s the worst shot ever, but he’s also a cocky asshole about it, so it’s all good.
He heads off to a speedway to bang the aforementioned June Khnockers, and goes home. Since it’s 1985, he lives in a yacht at the marina. The title of the film refers to a fake door he has mounted on the dock, making it look like the caboose of a train. Apparently his deceased mom liked trains or something. Faye and May come over to use Cody’s shower, which if you remember, is the exact same plot point Maude Lebowski would later term “ludicrous.”
Cody gets hired for a PI job, but it’s unclear as to why. I mean, he’s objectively bad at his job. The first stop is the Contessa Luciana, who dresses like an intergalactic prostitute. They have sex, and in a baffling moment (which later turns out to be a crucial plot point), he begs for some water like he’s been in the desert for a week.
Luciana takes him over to the Chamberlain residence in ritzy (but unfortunately Fresh Princeless) Bel Air. On the way, Cody veers into another movie briefly when he encounters a family of hillbillies who want to race him. It seems like they wanted to add a little Dukes of Hazzard to the Magnum P.I. proceedings.
Anyway, the Chamberlains are… I’m not really sure. Something’s going on. There’s Lady Lillian, nursing a broken leg, her relatively virtuous daughter Liza, her gay son Stuart, her daughter-in-law Anita, her sullen ex-con butler Shane, and her dimbulb maid Marian (Ha! Get it?). Shane is sleeping with Anita, implied to have slept with Stuart, and rapes Liza in the film’s only Peckinpah homage. Shane takes pictures and videos of each of his conquests for blackmail. Liza is dealing with this scumbag Jonathan Harper for some reason that I’m never entirely clear on. Harper has three thugs, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, who turn into the film’s heavies, but their motives are murky at best.
Harper shakes Shane down for a gambling debt, and shortly thereafter Shane is murdered by a woman in a stocking mask, but not before Shane manages to take a photograph of his killer. Considering Shane raped Liza and attempted to blackmail Anita and Stuart (who makes a convincing woman when he’s in drag), there is no shortage of suspects. In one of the film’s many bizarre moments, when Cody finds the body, he doesn’t call the cops, but instead calls a phone sex line and tries to get them to call the police. This predictably causes problems, but eventually, the cops arrive. Cody’s pal Beverly, a nice lady cop with a glorious hockey mullet, is in charge of the investigation. They head over to the beach house, supposedly to look for clues, but instead just have sex, leaving DNA like, everywhere. On the upside, Cody discovers Shane’s hidden cameras and pieces together the blackmail scam.
Dingbat Marian tipped Harper off and he dispatches a couple thugs to intercept Cody at the beach house. Cody can’t hit the broadside of a barn, but fortunately Beverly is there to kill both guys. Harper, still hoping to get his hands on Shane’s undeveloped film (which Cody recovered from Shane’s room and later gets developed), sends Matthew, Mark, and Luke to the Malibu Express to get them back. This saves Cody from another possible threesome as he chases the goons off. The next morning, he calls the phone sex woman to get June Khnockers on the phone. Does Cody only know one telephone number?
At some point, Stuart was arrested for Shane’s murder. Cody heads out to the raceway, tailed by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. They get in a shootout, and then a chase, which is an excuse for June to get topless yet again. The most confusing part is that Cody insists on driving, despite the fact that June is in the car and is a fucking race car driver. Matthew gets blown up due to some careless handling of grenades, and Cody finally gets to shoot a guy with the timely assistance of boobs.
They get a ride back to civilization from the director (in a cameo appearance) and Cody sends June to buy some hollowpoint rounds for the .44 magnum at an AM/PM. Look, I remember the ‘80s, and while you could get a wealth of terrifying food from the AM/PM, you could not purchase bullets.
Harper and Liza are arrested. It looks like Liza killed Shane. Good, says I. Nope! A little later, Cody has a get-together on the Malibu Express for a detective-style summing up. Turns out the killer in the picture isn’t Liza, since Liza’s a lefty and the killer is right-handed (in an unexpected bit of quality, the film then shows us a montage of Liza being left-handed). All the guys are over six feet tall, so the killer had to be a woman. Lillian has a broken leg, Marian is too dumb, and so it had to be Luciana. Cody went to talk to her, and found a tape confessing. Turns out that she’s in Hawaii. Wait, does she think Hawaii is a non-extradition country? She’s got an unpleasant surprise in store for her. And possibly a geography lesson.
Anyway, she had time to commit the murder, because that night, after sex with Cody, she spiked his water with sleeping powder. See? Total plot point. Anyway, she intentionally took the wrong camera from Shane’s drawer and jimmied the lock with her right hand, so Cody wouldn’t send an innocent woman to jail. Shane was selling secrets to Jonathan Harper, who was a spy for the Russians. Wait, what? Oh, who cares. Anyway, Luciana eliminated this threat to national security and was wearing a creepy Liza mask because though she didn’t want Liza to do a lot of time behind bars, she figured a night or two would be character-building.
Lillian praises Cody, saying he would help any woman in distress. There’s a montage of all his conquests, and a smug Cody says, “Yes, ma’am. Yes I would.”
Yakmala? No, not really. It runs a little long and has some slow patches that interfere with the fun. For softcore porn, the sex scenes are fairly tame and sparse, with the exception of the extremely troubling rape scene. The needlessly byzantine plot is enjoyable, though.
Lauri’s Thoughts: When I unwrapped this DVD, my lovely bride expressed her delight. She wanted to watch them with me. So I will be including a little bit from her with each of these.
“I can’t say that I went into this movie with high hopes for strong female characters – I knew it was going to be a cheesy action movie with terrible dialogue and a lot of groping. I was pleasantly surprised that one of the women was a race car driver. Of course, her name immediately reduced her to her boobs, but she at least drove the car. At least, she drove the race car until it was actually time for a car chase and then suddenly, she’s not the driver? What the hell? It’s her ONE JOB and she doesn’t get to do it. Okay, I was also annoyed by the woman sergeant who didn’t understand what investigating meant. She was like, “Why are we here?” at a possible crime scene.
To sum up, on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best, here’s how I rate it:
Girls = 3 (because their boobs were natural and I felt sorry for all the running they had to do braless; otherwise this would have gotten a 1 for them all being idiots)
Guns = 1 (there were not nearly enough guns fired in this movie)
G-Strings = 0 (there was only 1 thong, no actual g-strings)”
Lauri gives it a 4/15! Probably not the strongest recommendation there.