Wednesday, 14 October 2009

BULLETS, BOMBS AND BABES: The Films Of Andy Sidaris

Published By Heavy Metal

Andy Sidaris

There are people in life you look at and think "Damn! Now why didn't I think of that?". Suffice to say, Andy Sidaris was one of them.

Sidaris made movies for men, and never made any apologies for it. His movies are typified by scores of beautiful women in and out of skimpy outfits, guns, explosions, boats, planes, helicopters and fast cars, exotic locations, buff dudes and nefarious villains. Basically, everything a growing boy needs.

Hope Marie Carlton is fully loaded and ready for action...

Given that he had already carved out an extremely successful career in television prior to making movies, there was no need for him to ever try and second-guess or appease the critics. He already knew how good he was, and thus didn't have the pressing need for validation which seems to afflict so many others. Ergo, he made the kind of movies he wanted to make, and that people like me want to watch.

Andy at work...or at least as near to work as being surrounded by hot babes in swimwear can ever be

"Bullets, Bombs and Babes" tells his story, in his own words and with more than a few contributions from those who've known and worked with him, from his TV days to the production of his own unique brand of action movies. It's not a 'book' as such in terms of layout, but more akin to a large magazine or fanzine (what the Japanese have taken to calling a 'Mook'), but bound in hardback like a British Annual. As I'm sure you can imagine, and are no doubt hoping, it's heavy on pictures, both in B&W and colour, and light on clothing.

If you look at this picture long enough, you'll eventually notice Julie Strain is wearing a Malibu Bay Films jacket...

It's arranged in chronological order, addressing his early life and television career, the three films he made prior to making the ones people consider as the canonical 'Andy Sidaris Films' (AKA the 'Malibu Bay' films), and then moves on to fully get to grips with the films with which he is chiefly associated with and remembered for. In short, the type of movies that 'Andy Sidaris' has become the byword for, worldwide.

Andy Sidaris: Big In Japan

Each one of these films is given a feature spread, but the real juice comes from the interviews dotted about the book. Sidaris had a lot of recurring characters over the span of the 'Malibu Bay/L.E.T.H.A.L Ladies' movies, which means a lot of his actors worked with him on multiple occasions and thus can give a real insight into the man and his moviemaking process, just as Andy and his wife Arlene are capable of sharing some interesting tidbits and recollections about them.

The ridiculously sexy Cynthia Brimhall was a Playmate back when Playboy still had standards...

Aside from the laundry list of Playboy Playmates and Penthouse Pets who've featured in his films (whose names won't mean anything to you, dear reader, as you don't look at that sort of thing on the internet...right?), there are also a number of names that (if you're a genre film obsessive like me) will ring a bell. Danny 'Robert Rodriguez doesn't make a film without me' Trejo, Pat 'Mr. Miyagi' Morita, Al 'The most killed guy in cinema history' Leong, Erik 'CHiPS' Estrada and possibly the sexiest woman to ever step before a camera, the one and only Sybil Danning.

Austria's other gift to world cinema, Sybil Danning

The book also reproduces Sidaris-related interviews and extracts from such diverse sources as Spain's 'Gotham' magazine and Maitland McDonagh's 'Filmmaking On The Fringe' (of which I will also be posting a full review of's an excellent book), and there is a whole slew of pictures from behind the scenes, such as a particularly eye-opening photo montage of Andy himself ostensibly demonstrating to Penthouse Pet Julie K. Smith how to do a striptease and pole dancing routine. There's also a bunch of interesting pictures regarding Andy's life away from the set, hobnobbing with the likes of Gerald Ford and Hugh Hefner. As you do.

If you're looking for porn, look elsewheres. Sidaris' films, in a purely sexual sense, are best described as "(Tits and) Ass With Class". They're a distinct step below late-night softcore in terms of explicitness of sexual content, yet ten steps above in terms of plotlines, production value and execution. It's a curious niche, and to say that it is one that Sidaris made his own would be the understatement of the century.

Beautiful women in exotic locations, the Sidaris hallmark.

It's not as if nobody else could make these kind of movies, but the fact remains that nobody is making or even attempting to make these movies, and certainly not at the level of overall quality that Sidaris did it at. The fact remains, if anybody did succeed in replicating the formula, the first response you'd elicit would be 'It's kinda like an Andy Sidaris film'.

Al Leong, Gyrocopter, Bikini Babe. What more could you want from a film?

Given a choice between an Andy Sidaris flick and either of McG's "Charlie's Angels" movies, I'd have to go with Sidaris every time. I'm heterosexual, plus I like movies that are movies rather than 90-minute music video medleys.

Value for money? Yes, I'd say it's priced about right for what it is. I'd imagine most hardcore Sidaris fans will probably already have a copy, but if you're one of those who are sitting on the fence with regards to this book, or have yet to discover the works of Andy Sidaris, then I can happily give it the thumbs up. All three of them...

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