Sunday, December 13, 2015

Soundtrack Cinema: Hard Ticket to Hawaii

I am fascinated by movies that use songs that describe the movie. Let's talk about one of those.

Hard Ticket to Hawaii is a gem among the "this exists?" set of b-movies that are making the rounds again, thanks in part to the many great rep theaters bringing attention to these forgotten films (Alamo Drafthouse, Cinefamily). It features not one but TWO songs about the movie, and both are amazing.

Written and Directed by Andy Sidaris, Hard Ticket to Hawaii has a pretty standard through-line - a couple of special agents encounter a diamond delivery on its way to a drug lord, leading to a clash between the two groups. What makes the film magical are the incredible sub-plots and genuinely unique methods employed to dispatch the bad guys. The film is fairly sleazy and has copious amounts of rampant 80's nudity that you might expect from the classic Cinemax days. It is certainly sexist at times as well, though also presents the female leads as the real heroines of the movie.

Skip the trailer if you can, this one plays best without any pre-knowledge of the plot points and great moments. You can safely check out this amazing opening sequence to give you a taste of the barely-held-together but incredibly imaginative nature of the film, though:

Now, onto those songs!

First up is the spectacularly 80's "Hard Ticket to Hawaii", written by Kevin Klingler, John Brainard and Bill Schreiber. Jay Molina tells us how it really is - although it's like a dream, it's not how it seems, that's for sure. I love the incredible squealy guitars on this track. This one comes in at around the 15-minute mark and sets our expectations that Hawaii isn't the shining paradise we all think it is. Consider the stage set.

The second track, "Hard Ticket", runs during the film's closing credits sequence which is covered in spoilers and completely NSFW. I won't post the link to the video sequence here to avoid those things, but someone kindly created a spoiler-free and SFW version. The synthesized horns! The tropical feel! The sweet crooning of co-songwriter and singer Gary Stockdale! (let's not leave co-songwriter Bob Moore out of this, either). Where "Hard Ticket to Hawaii" established our expectations of the seedy underbelly of the tropical paradise, "Hard Ticket" tells us that it was all worth it - the price is high, but nothing good comes for free. Stick with it!

Hopefully these songs have you super pumped to check out the film - you can find the whole thing on Youtube or very cheaply in a set of 12(!) films by Sidaris on Amazon.

Jimmy Reed

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