Sunday, May 8, 2016


Welcome to the inaugural installment of the TRASH BIN, where we watch the worst movies Hollywood has to offer, so you don't have to. This week's pick is the 1985 comic murder mystery...MALIBU EXPRESS.

I have said it before, and I feel the need to say it again here: you can't judge a movie by its reviews. Reviews can be fun to read, and they can inform you about what to expect from a movie before you see it, but ultimately you have to just watch the movie yourself and make up your own mind. I speak from experience: more than once I've avoided a movie based on its reviews, only to watch it later and find out I was missing out on a pretty good time.

The reason I bring this up is because reviews of director Andy Sidaris' 1985 movie Malibu Express, the first in a series of 12 loosely related projects collectively known as "The Andy Sidaris Collection", are few and far between. Look the movie up on Metacritic, and you get nothing. Rotten Tomatoes doesn't do much better, though they actually have the movie in their database. Still no reviews from professional critics, but it has only a 40% from the users with an average rating of 2.9/5. So, is this one of those undiscovered gems from the glory days of low-budget cinema? Yes ... if you're a fourteen-year old boy.

Malibu Express is the story of private investigator, Texas good-ole-boy and habitual ladies' man Cody Abilene (Darby Hinton), enlisted by the FBI to investigate how the Soviets are getting their hands on American computer technology. In the course of his investigation, Cody will save a wealthy heiress and her family from their blackmailing chauffeur, bullets and godawful dialog are tossed around in equal measure, and just about every woman in California will expose her assets for Cody's enjoyment, because that's the sort of thing women love to do, apparently.

And given that you'll see more breasts in this movie than a KFC freezer, we might as well talk about that first. This is the part where I would likely say something like "I like bewbs as much as the next guy, but..." but there's just no defending this. If you're of a certain age, you might remember what a scandal it was when Paul Verhoeven unleashed Showgirls on an unsuspecting world. Well, in comparison with Malibu Express, Showgirls looks downright restrained, and a better movie overall, besides. Shirts go bye-bye with such rediculous frequency that by the end, even Cody himself is crying "no mas." I was way ahead of him. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Seriously, give it a rest, already.

The story itself -- yes, there is one -- isn't much better. First, it's just clumsily assembled. The film's various scenes only mesh into a narrative in the same loose way all those McBain segments from The Simpsons do, so Sidaris tries to cover it up with copious amounts of voice-over narration. Which wouldn't be so bad, except many times it seems the narration is supposed to be mistaken for actual dialog. And when it isn't simply describing what you're seeing, or recounting the previous scene's events, it acts in place of actual story, as the film's settings jump about with no rhyme or reason of their own.

Most of the film's major points aren't explained, or they're explained very badly, and at the very end. The story is so badly written that the main mystery is actually forgotten for the mystery of who killed the blackmailing chauffeur, only to clumsily tie everything together at the last minute. Seriously, if you're going to watch this, stick around to the ending. The resolution is so nonsensical that it almost makes for a satisfying payoff.

Unfortunately, bad acting, worse direction and incompetent narrative composition aren't the only ways this movie is objectively offensive. Really, there's something here to embarass just about everyone. Even by the low standards of the mid-80s, women are portrayed poorly. Men are bullies or fools. There's even a gay slur thrown in for good measure. So credit where its due for taking the equal opportunity approach, but again, overkill is the word of the day.

Anyone interested in making movies of their own should watch this, along with 1964's The Creeping Terror. If Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space is Bad Movies 101, then these two represent the master class, high-level examples of how not to do just about everything important in screenwriting and directing. Lovers of bad movies, like myself, won't be disappointed. This is a true turkey, not even the so-bad-it's-good kind. As for the rest of you, unless you find yourself in a certain mood (whether foreign substances were involved or not), give this one a miss. Maybe watch Howard the Duck instead, or some regional injury attorney commercials. Compared to this, they're Oscar-worthy.

Malibu Express is rated R for violence, nudity, strong sexual themes and "adult situations." If you must watch this movie, you can find the full movie on YouTube, or buy it on DVD from Mill Creek Entertainment as part of the "Bullets, Bombs and Babes" collection.

Robert's score: 2/10

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