Cult Caravan: Hard Ticket To Hawaii (1987)
The frisbee death scene?
The skateboarding assassin?
The snake infected by deadly toxins from cancer-infested rats? (No, really. That description of the snake is actually a direct quote from the film.)
The credits kick things off in gleefully awful fashion, showing a bunch of moustachioed dudes moving crates around a warehouse, with the cast’s names printed out on brown paper and glued to the side of them. It’s kind of amazing. Next thing you know, an incompetent forklift driver has knocked the ominous “CONTAMINATED” sign off one crate in particular, which as it turns out, contains a GIANT MUTANT CANCER SNAKE.
The actual plot centres around two Government agents (although we don’t find out what actual agency they work for, it’s just referred to as ‘The Agency’) called Donna and Taryn, who are undercover as island-hopping pilots for a Hawaiian cargo company. I have to admit, I only got all that after reading up on it after actually seeing the film. While I was watching it, there was a fair amount of ‘Wait, are they cops or something? No, they’re pilots. Oh, hang on, what’s this agency they keep mentioning? WHO ARE THESE WOMEN AND WHY DO THEY KEEP TAKING THEIR CLOTHES OFF?’ Both actresses were 1980s Playmates, which might explain the second part of that last question, actually. The film doesn’t waste time explaining things like character background, instead it distracts you from niggly details like that with BOOBS. In one particular instance, by showing Taryn taking off her bikini top in order to take an outdoor shower under a tree, while talking to Donna. As one does.
Anyway, Donna and Taryn have to transport a newlywed couple and a regular, non-cancery snake to another island, so off they go, only UH OH THEY’VE GOT THE WRONG SNAKE! Once they’ve landed on the island and dropped off the tourist couple, they see a toy helicopter containing two small packages landing near the beach. But then two henchmen that the delivery was actually meant for suddenly appear so the girls have to fight them off. Luckily they came equipped with nunchucks and ninja stars hidden their tiny, sideboob-exposing uniforms so they make their escape with one of the packages. Once home, both Donna and Taryn strip off and get into the hot tub to have a think. They open the package to discover it contains diamonds, Donna decides to call Rowdy, a fellow agent, and they both climb back out of the hot tub. That is literally the whole scene. They get naked, sit in the hot tub, open the bag and get back out.
Also, I’d like to point out that there’s a scene where Taryn is showing Donna her new movie posters. She loves James Bond and spy movies, and there on the wall of their house, is a framed poster for Malibu Express, which she makes a particular point of. This film is the sequel to Malibu Express. Rowdy is the meant to be the cousin of the main character IN Malibu Express. It’s so meta that if you think about it too much, your brain may be in danger of melting out of your ears.
After some more fights between henchmen and the girls (in which their clothes come off a bit), the snake escaping from its crate (which ended up in their garage for some reason I can’t remember) and some random scenes that are completely irrelevant to the plot, we eventually meet Rowdy and Jade, the two manly agents who are going to save the day. But as they’re on the way to meet Donna and Taryn, they are passed on the road by a man doing a handstand on a skateboard. They surmise that he’s been ‘smoking some heavy doobies’ and carry on as before. BUT then he comes after them, only this time he’s carrying a rifle and A BLOW UP SEX DOLL. FOR NO REASON.
He shoots the tyre of the jeep that the agents are driving, which inexplicably results in Jade getting a bullet in the chest. They then drive into the assassin, somehow sending him flying into the air AND BLOW HIM UP WITH A ROCKET LAUNCHER. For realz! It’s incredible! And just when you thought it couldn’t get any more ridiculous, THEY EXPLODE THE SEX DOLL TOO! We actually had to rewind this scene to watch it again, just to make sure we weren’t tripping our collective balls off the first time around.
Other things of note include a restaurant called Edy’s that the characters frequent, which has a maître d’ whose sole purpose seems to be sleazing all over anyone with tits. Not to mention dialogue like ‘if brains were birdshit your cages would be empty’ and ‘one man’s dream is another man’s lunch’ and a villain called Mr. Chang, despite the fact that he’s a white dude who looks like a low-rent Malcolm McDowell.
Anyway, things start to come to a head as the agents plan to take down the criminal boss who’s involved in the whole diamonds and drugs thing. There’s a great bit where Taryn and Donna are gathering information on the boss’s compound with a bright yellow video camera. I love it because it reminded me of that trend in the 80s and 90s where gadget companies used to bring out a yellow and supposedly waterproof version of an existing product and called it the ‘Sports’ model. Anyway, all of this leads up to the one scene that convinced me that I absolutely HAD to see this film, in which Rowdy disposes of one of the compound’s henchmen. Who is called Shades, by the way. It’s the frisbee death scene, kids. Are you ready for this?
There are around three big finales to this film, involving someone stabbing a door down instead of just kicking it in and the snake making a spectacular return to the storyline, which I won’t spoil because you just have to see it for yourself. The snake is brilliant for many reasons, one of which being that it’s quite obviously someone’s arm encased in a slimy, elaborate sock puppet.
Hard Ticket To Hawaii is completely ridiculous. The women take their clothes off at the drop of a hat, there are scenes showing a henchwoman all oiled up and posing with nunchucks for about four minutes for absolutely no reason, the supposed heroes do racist Japanese accent impressions, the dialoge is hilariously bad and outrageously sexist, the sets are wobbly and the plot is unnecessarily convoluted. But in spite of, or most likely because of all these completely mental things, it is also a huge amount of fun. If you enjoy terrible films, then you really, REALLY have to watch this one.
And if you’re still not convinced, then just check out the badass trailer: