(US - 1979)
Directed by Andy Sidaris. Written by William Driskill and Robert Baird. Cast: William Smith, Barbara Leigh, Guich Koock, Christipher Joy, Martin Kove, Art Metrano, Ed Parker, Richard LePore, Lenny Montana, Reggie Nalder, Seth Sakai, Kwan Hi Lim, Tino Tuiolosega, Henry Ayau, Peter Knecht, Susan Kiger, Robert Relyea, Terry Kiser, John Alderman, Nick Georgiade, Little Egypt, Charles Picerni, Sandra Bernadou, Tadashi Yamashita, Russell Howell, Carol Needham. (R, 101 mins)
Mention Andy Sidaris to any well-traveled B-movie fan of a certain age and you'll probably get a snicker of acknowledgment over the T&A action auteur's esteemed contributions to the video store glory days. Best known for his "Bullets, Bombs and Babes" series of Hawaii-shot, scantily-clad "L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies" actioners featuring Playboy Playmates and Penthouse Pets that ran from 1985's MALIBU EXPRESS to 1998's RETURN TO SAVAGE BEACH, Sidaris' spot in exploitation history is secure. But before embarking on his movie career, he was already a highly-regarded, Emmy-winning sports director for ABC going back to the 1960s, known for his work on the network's coverage of the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City as well as the long-running WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS. He also ran the control booth in the early years of ABC's MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL, pioneering what's known in the TV sports industry as the "honey shot"--close-ups of cheerleaders on the sideline--and his expertise in directing live sports action led to him being called upon by Robert Altman to serve as a technical adviser on the legendary football sequence in his 1970 classic MASH. Bitten by the filmmaking bug after spending time on the set with Altman, Sidaris made his feature directing debut with 1973's Roger Corman-financed actioner STACEY. It was a minor hit on the drive-in circuit, and Sidaris had enough clout with the networks to get some TV gigs, directing episodes of KOJAK and THE HARDY BOYS/NANCY DREW MYSTERIES. It would be six years before Sidaris made his second film with SEVEN, which effectively set the template and tone for the singularly unique Sidaris style seen over the next two decades.
Luca Brasi in THE GODFATHER), a nefarious Hawaii-based mastermind of a plot to eliminate key political and law enforcement figures and engineer a hostile takeover of the state for their own illegal interests. Sevano would rather spend his downtime with buxom Sybil (Carol Needham), but with the promise of $7 million and the ability to assemble his own motley crew of assassins, Sevano and his "Seven" take action.
|Barbara Leigh and Susan Kiger in a scene|
absolutely essential to the plot of SEVEN.
|Andy Sidaris (1931-2007), seen here having another|
shitty day at work at Malibu Bay Films headquarters
THE KARATE KID) as a Kahuna flunky and Terry Kiser (Bernie in WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S) as a Hawaii senator offed in the opening scene. But Smith is the big name here (unless you count blatant product plugs for Orange Julius and Subaru), and he makes for a solid tough guy hero. He might not have had any Oscars in his future, but he was well-known for early '70s biker movies like ANGELS DIE HARD and CHROME AND HOT LEATHER and exploitation hits like INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS, would regularly turn up in supporting roles in respectable films, and was having a bit of a moment in 1979 on the heels of his acclaimed turn as Falconetti in the gargantuan mini-series RICH MAN, POOR MAN and its followup RICH MAN, POOR MAN BOOK II and joining the cast of HAWAII FIVE-0 in its 12th and final season as a replacement for James MacArthur. After SEVEN, Smith would co-star as Clint Eastwood's bare-knuckle nemesis in ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN and would have his best-known '80s role a few years later as the leader of the Soviet invasion of small-town America in RED DAWN. Now 85, Smith's IMDb page over the last 20 years is cluttered with dismal, Z-grade DTV fare that no one's heard of, his last notable credit being a guest spot on a 1999 episode of WALKER, TEXAS RANGER. Smith wasn't exactly Sir Laurence Olivier with his acting ability, but relative to the later likes of Sidaris male leads like Steve Bond and Bruce Penhall, he was established and accomplished, though even with Melvin Simon backing him, it's hard to believe Sidaris ever seriously entertained the absurd notion of getting an in-his-prime Burt Reynolds to star in this thing. Though it was released on video in the '80s, the enjoyably ridiculous SEVEN has been difficult to see for a number of years, a problem rectified with Kino Lorber's recent Blu-ray release, because physical media is dead.