Tee-Hee, I'm Naked!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Savage Beach

(1989, 95 min.)

Starring Dona Speir, Hope Marie Carlton, John Apnea, Bruce Penhall, Rodrigo Obregón, Michael Mikasa, Lisa London, Teri Weigel, Michael J. Shane, Dann Seki, Al Leong, Eric Chen, Paul Cody, Patty Dufek.

Written and directed by Andy Sidaris.

Donna and Taryn (Speir and Carlton, both former Playmates as was once de rigueur with a Sidaris production) reprising their roles from Hard Ticket to Hawaii and Picasso Trigger) are slightly non-descript federal agents. They identify themselves as being from the ‘Drug Enforcement Division.’ Did Sidaris really think the DEA would object to the real name being used? Could putting forth the idea that women who look like this work for the agency do anything but increase enrollment? The opening scene has them taking down some drug runners in a surprisingly violent sequence that also involves two other agents, Pattycakes (Duffek) and Rocky (T&A staple London). As dictated by federal policy regarding incidents involving automatic weapons fire, the four women then retire to a topless Jacuzzi session.

The women all have “straight” jobs as cover. Rocky’s is running a restaurant, a fact that seems to exist primarily for a bad joke. Describing a bread-making machine, she says, “You just put the dough in and it rises automatically.” “I’ve never heard of such a thing.” “Then you didn’t know my ex-boyfriend.” Sure it doesn’t really make any sense, but you got that it was an erection joke, right? Good. That’s all the film really expects of you anyway.

Donna and Taryn’s cover job is running an aerial charter business. A call comes in from Shane Abilene (Shane, and it’s a running joke that every one of these movies has a character named Abilene) that an isolated island is badly in need of medical supplies, and the women have to take them there immediately. When they pick up the supplies, Abilene also gives them some hardware to take along. Why do they need to be so heavily armed on a little mission of mercy? Well, for starters, the ensuing plot will necessitate it, although there’s no reason they should know that at this point. Much more importantly, if there’s anything that Warren Beatty has taught me, it’s that in the movies gun=dick. And so we are subjected to a conversation between Donna and Shane entirely constructed of more bad cock jokes. Quite a bit of the dialogue between men and women in the movie is like this. It’s fun to imagine that this is the way Andy and wife/producer Arlene converse with each other.

Meanwhile, a Navy Captain Andreas (Aprea) and Martinez (Obregón), a representative of the government of the Philippines, are in the process of trying to locate some missing Filipino gold that was stolen by Japanese soldiers during the war, all of whom disappeared somewhere in the Pacific. In the first of several hints of Reagan-era politics, the Captain berates Martinez as a “bleeding heart liberal” who is putting the rest of the world in danger for his own gains. See, the Captain has diverted radar technology away from the Star Wars program, the country’s “first defense” against attack as he calls it, to try and locate the missing Japanese vessel. First of all, if the Captain doesn’t believe that Martinez holds a sincere intention to do right by the Filipino people (he doesn’t, exactly, but that actually just shores up the point), why the hell is he helping him, especially if it involves such serious security issues? The only other explanation is that he’s hoping to get a piece of the pie, which is not the most noble of reasons, and yet we’re supposed to see him as one of the good guys. Secondly, our first defense? C’mon, this was ’89, for Christ’s sake. I’m betting even ol’ Rappin’ Ronnie had begun to suspect that Star Wars was a joke by then. Regardless of all of that crap, they manage to calculate where the Japanese soldiers likely ended up, on a remote island.

Donna and Taryn, having delivered the supplies, discover that their window of opportunity for safe flight was smaller than they thought it was going to be. They become lost in a storm and end up having to make an emergency landing on the same remote island, only to eventually find themselves face to face with the treasure hunters, as well as a mysterious presence creeping through the jungle.

As I’ve made perfectly clear in other places on the site, effort counts for a lot with me. T&A films may exist primarily for titillation, but there’s really no reason why we can’t have a good story along the way as well. And while I would never accuse Sidaris of being a good writer (the sexual banter, as noted, is embarrassing, and this is the kind of movie where when one character tells another to have a blast, you know the latter will be blown to smithereens soon afterwards), he did always try to keep things lively, at least for a while. This is an early, semi-unofficial entry in his L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies series, and watching him attempt to construct a story that will hold interest of its own independent of the nudity makes it all the more depressing to consider some of the later films, such as Return to Savage Beach, by which time he seemed to have abandoned the idea of any sort of actual plot all the better to fit in more footage of Julie K. Smith wrapping her breasts around a runway pole.

Surprisingly though, we seem to have a case of the exact opposite here. If anything there’s too much story, with all sorts of double-dealings in play, and while there are plenty of breasts on display, they’re mostly shot in oddly perfunctory ways. The usual leering quality of this kind of fare is in short supply. Whether this is a good or a bad thing depends on your tastes. And it’s hard to complain in any case when two of the main sets of breasts belong to Speir and Carlton, who manage to come off not completely unbelievable as professional women (I damn them with faint, grammatically awkward praise). And, not to take anything away from Speir, Carlton is just so damn cute, possibly one of the most adorable models ever to pose for the man in the silk pajamas.

You pretty much always know what you’re going to get with a Sidaris movie: a ‘splodey, smarmy production that looks like it stepped out of a 1980s action TV series and picked up some naked babes along the way. (Or to put it in terms cultists will appreciate, they’re kind of like Cheri Caffaro movies minus the nastiness.) If you’re interested in some plot, choose his earlier work. Otherwise, Julie K. Smith and her runway pole await you.


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