Before he made Stacey, Andy Sidaris was known as a pioneer in the world of sports television, directing thousands of hours worth of football, basketball, Olympic games and special events for ABC’s Wide World of Sports. He eventually won seven Emmy Awards, but is perhaps best known for his invention of the “honey shot,” where he’d zoom in on the cleavage of female audience members and cheerleaders.
After helping make Monday Night Football into a ratings powerhouse and working on shows like Kojak and Gemini Man, Sidaris moved into making his own movies by partnering with Roger Corman, raising half the funds for his debut film, Stacey. This is not truly his first film, as that would be The Racing Scene, a documentary about actor James Garner’s racing team.
Stacey Hanson (Anne Randall, May 1967 Playboy Playmate of the Month) has two jobs: private eye and race car driver. Wealthy older woman Florence Chambers hires her to determine whether or not her three family members are worthy of being in her will: the secretly gay John, his adulterous wife Tish (Anitra Ford from Messiah of Evil!) and Pamela (Cristina Raines from The Sentinel!), who is in a Manson-esque cult.
Meanwhile, houseboy Frank, who has been sleeping with and blackmailing everyone in the family, has been killed and no one is safe. This is the movie that I learned that none of Sidaris’ heroes and heroines knows how to shoot a gun, yet the villains are easily able to shoot everyone around them resulting in spectacular crimson geysers of gore.
If this all seems rather close to a later Sidaris film, Malibu Express, that’s because other than a few characters, they’re largely the same film. The sad fact that I can logically discuss Andy Sidaris films and know enough facts about them that I can drop at will either makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing or ponder where it all went wrong. There’s a thin line between madness and genius. The films of Andy Sidaris make me confront that head on.
Whereas the later films of Sidaris postulate a shared universe of L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies and various drug dealing enemies that eventually become friends, this is a self-contained affair. But as he’d move on from doing TV — he was still working on shows like The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries and ABC’s Monday Night Football — Andy was ready to embrace the world of film completely. Yet one thing never changed: Sidaris loved showing off gorgeous women, but don’t write off his films as simple exploitation. His women are always capable, empowered and intelligent.