Trashterpiece Theater Presents
HARD TICKET TO HAWAII (1987)
Review by Stacey Longo
I watched HARD TICKET TO HAWAII (1987) because I was under the impression it was a snake movie. But this cinematic gem is many things: an action/adventure film, softcore porn, and oh yes, there is one contaminated python thrown into the mix. I should’ve stopped after the first five minutes. But it turns out I couldn’t look away.
We’re first introduced to Donna (Dona Speir, best known as March 1984’s Playmate of the Month), a DEA agent, who is protecting Taryn (Hope Marie Carlton, Playboy’s pick for July 1985), an informant in the Witness Protection Program. They’re living in Hawaii, and Taryn’s cover is that she and Donna run a cargo plane business. If those two women’s best-known credits are making you wonder if there will be boobies in this movie, wonder no more: these gals do all of their plotting, figuring, and calling for backup topless. You’re welcome, guys!
Donna and Taryn stumble across some stolen diamonds delivered via remote-control toy helicopter, which they promptly discuss whilst topless in a Jacuzzi. Little do they know, in addition to the diamonds, a contaminated python has also arrived on the island. That’s what the actor playing the guy trying to alert them to the dangerous snake’s presence keeps calling it: contaminated. We later get more of an explanation—the python has been “contaminated” with cancer-ridden rats (no, I still don’t get it), and is a danger to anyone who goes near it (though he assures the ladies when he finally does get ahold of them the snake will eventually die from its own horrible toxicity).
There are evil henchmen about, and they want the diamonds back. They work for Mr. Chang, who, by the way, is quite white and British. The bad guys attack Donna and Taryn, who fight back both admirably and while topless. But the ladies now feel they need reinforcements. No, not underwire: they call Rowdy (Ronn Moss, THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, 1987–2015) and Jade (Harold Diamond, RAMBO III, 1988), who show up the next morning sporting ridiculous karate moves, laughable dialogue, and a bazooka. This foursome—after a brief stop so two of them can indulge in some very vocal nookie—set off to save the day, sporting swords, nunchakus, ninja stars, and the aforementioned bazooka. Bad guys get Frisbee’d to death (I’m not even kidding), there are many, many more boobs, and that evil contaminated snake shows back up as a deus ex machina, and is quickly sent to (spoiler alert!) an early demise.
Despite that brief summary, there is so much to unpack here. First up: every woman in this movie was either a past Playboy model, or a past Hustler model. The director—Emmy award-winning Andy Sedaris, who also has a cameo as a sleazy TV director—clearly felt that posing naked for the masses equated natural acting talent. One refreshing thing: though all these ladies have about as much acting talent as the rubber python used in this flick, they are all natural.
Secondly, there are a ton of dangly plotline bits that are never resolved. There are two snakes in this movie, and you will never find out what the point of the healthy snake is—it’s introduced and forgotten in six frames. The opening scene is of two cops getting shot while busting a marijuana ring, but this seems to tie into the rest of the film not at all. It’s not the drug ring Taryn’s going to take the stand against, and incidentally, you’ll never hear another word about her upcoming testimony, either. And there’s lengthy discourse regarding vitamin supplements that drops in out of nowhere, and ends just as quickly—I suspect Vitamin C may have been a sponsor of this fine film. In addition to these, there are other subplots going on—a girl gets kidnapped, there’s a local restaurant that seems to have something to do with the story, but I’m not sure what—that were crammed in here because the director clearly wanted to make every genre movie ever, but only had the budget for one.
Another aspect of the movie begging for more in-depth analysis is the dialogue: some of the worst lines ever spoken on celluloid are found here. Ronn Moss claims most of these, charmers like “Just when you thought it was safe to take a pee,” and—during a sex scene—“One man’s treasure is another man’s lunch,” which made zero sense in the context of the scene, though sounded kind of insulting. (The lady he said it to didn’t seem to think so, as they get naked again later.) Other characters have some standout lines, too—most notably, when a restaurant owner invites a beauty to sit on his face, she responds, “Why? Is your nose bigger than your dick?” The absurdity of the script certainly kept me entertained, if only because every time I thought I’d heard the stupidest line ever, someone else would come along and top it.
Finally, I must mention the special effects, and there are plenty. I won’t say they’re good special effects, just . . . different. The deadly contaminated python appears to be a rubber puppet, one which never closes its mouth—you know, as regular snakes are wont to do, those silly mouth-breathers. Rowdy uses his weapon of choice—the bazooka—to take down a flying blow-up doll (you read that right) in a fiery explosion, but later, this rocket launcher gently nudges a man out of a window with its bullets. But not all of the makeup and effects are terrible: there is a transvestite in this movie who is easily the most beautiful woman in the cast.
Like I said: you won’t be able to look away.
Overall, HARD TICKET TO HAWAII is ridiculous and nonsensical—and, surprisingly, absurdly wonderful. I was both in awe of its terribleness and amused by it. It contains all of the best worst things you’d expect in a B-movie, and if you have no need for discernable plot, believable snakes, or decent dialogue, then buckle up, because this is your ticket to paradise.
© Copyright 2017 by Stacey Longo Harris