Andy Sidaris season! Seven (1979)

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I’m quite glad I reviewed Andy Sidaris’ movies this way, and I’d recommend you watch them this way too. “Stacey” was remade as “Malibu Express”, by and large, so similarity in themes is to be expected. But this? While the plot is largely original, being written by long-term TV writer William Driskill, there are some scenes and ideas which he just straight-up repeated in his later movies, including perhaps the most famous scene he ever made. Why did he keep going back to the same handful of very specific ideas, I wonder?

Oh, before we start, it’s not just Andy Sidaris ripping off Andy Sidaris. There’s a gag in “Seven” where a bad guy has a sword, and rather than mess with him our hero just pulls a gun and shoots him…two years before “Raiders Of The Lost Ark” did the same thing. Coincidence?

We’ve talked about the Sidaris-verse before now, and how we’re all terribly sad for thinking about it at all. Well, “Seven” is part of that universe, because The Professor (Richard Lepore), the implausibly irresistible-to-women skinny late-middle-age guy, appears in this, “Hard Ticket To Hawaii” and “Picasso Trigger”, all as the same character. He’s also in “Stacey”, but as a different fella, further evidence that it was good to be friends with Andy.

Your hero, ladies and gentlemen

Your hero, ladies and gentlemen

We can’t put off recapping the movie any longer! After a sweet bit of assassination from Martin Kove, we’re whisked off to Hawaii and the beginning of the long Sidaris love affair with the island. Someone who looks a heck of a lot like me is then murdered in the original “shoot the person wearing the lei” scene, which was re-used in “Guns” to much greater effect; and one of the villains is Bernie, the dead guy from “Weekend At Bernie’s” – I reckon his family probably call him Bernie by this point.

A criminal mastermind has assembled a team to pull off the biggest crime in the history of the USA, which has slipped my mind for some reason (because it’s pointless, probably). I think they’re going to threaten to blow up a hotel? And the authorities have their hands ties due to all the damned red tape! Come on, bean-counters! So, the federal agent who’s sort of in charge of the investigation decides to call in a sort of black-ops guy, Drew Savano (the great William Smith, who’s also in “The Roller Blade Seven” and Donald Farmer’s “Deadly Memories”, putting him right at the top of the ISCFC B-movie royalty list).

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Right around here is where the movie turns into the equivalent of a hang-out sitcom, where the entertainment comes from just watching these characters do their thing without any real dramatic tension. Savano assembles a team of seven badasses to kill the seven criminals, and we just see a leisurely half the movie spent on him finding a person, persuading them (with a huge sack of cash) to murder a bad guy, then seeing the bad guy doing a thing with the good guy spying on them, building up information and so on. I’m not saying it’s bad or boring, but when you’re used to dramatic tension in your spy/action thrillers, it’s sort of weird to see one that has none.

The “team” (they’re barely ever together) consists of such characters as Cowboy (Guich “where did he get that name” Koock) and his sidekick, the staggeringly beautiful Jennie (former Playboy model Susan Kiger); wannabe Vegas comedian Kincella (Art Metrano, from a few of the Police Academy movies and “Malibu Express”); Alexa (Barbara Leigh); and TK (Christopher Joy), whose method of assassination has to be seen to be believed.

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Now, because this is a Sidaris movie, lots of people have to get blown up. When you’re going to do this, though, spending ages establishing patterns of behaviour seems sort of pointless. Why not just turn up to where they are, strap a bomb to their car and then be on your way? The levels of secrecy are about the same. The Professor’s weapon, a rocket launcher which can be fired from miles away and is accurate to the millimeter, is the icing on the cake.

Perhaps best of all the seven is Ed Parker, playing himself. You’d be surprised, but the pudgy guy with the weird grey haircut is a genuine karate legend, inventing the American Kenpo Karate style and training many people, most notably Elvis Presley. His system is still hugely popular today. For some reason his fight against the martial arts villain, which you’d expect to be a real back-and-forth battle, lasts about thirty seconds before Ed just throws him straight out of a window to his death. It’s a hilarious anti-climax, and indicates that Sidaris still had a few things to learn about pacing.

Don't worry, just a guy in a wig fondling the boob of a blow-up doll

Don’t worry, just a guy in a wig fondling the boob of a blow-up doll

There’s even an outtake left in the movie, as William Smith is sat waiting for someone, and sneaking up behind him is a gorgeous mostly naked woman; he reacts with genuine shock, then laughter, looking off camera as if to compliment the crew on their gag. Like I said, a loose hangout movie with plenty of laughs, if not tons of drama. Also, none of the cast really looks like actors, they’re interesting visually, but all over the place. It’s fun to remember when movies weren’t so cookie-cutter with their casting choices.

If you’ve heard of Andy Sidaris, it’s due to the minor viral hit of his “skateboard assassin” scene from “Hard Ticket To Hawaii” – what you won’t be aware of is that the character first appeared in “Seven”, doing almost the same stuff. While he doesn’t get killed in exactly the same way, it’s still really weird to watch again – there’s also a blow-up doll, but the two of them share no scenes in “Seven”. Also making its first appearance, to be used in a later movie, is the “medallion stopping a bullet” trick. I’d love to know why he re-used so many scenes.

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With a genuinely “huh?” ending, this is a strong entry in the Sidaris pantheon. Don’t expect a normal movie, and you’ll have a good time. The relatively rare appearances of T&A leave this a movie you could watch with your (open-minded) grandma.

Rating: thumbs up

PS – this is the end, and I’m genuinely sad. I’ve really enjoyed almost all Andy’s output, and there aren’t any directors quite like him. I might revisit this at some point, see if I can track down any of his actors or crew to do an interview. But for now, we must move on. ISCFC project complete!

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