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Plot: druglord avenges his associate’s death. The LETHAL ladies are on the case.

For Picasso Trigger Hawaiian action mogul Andy Sidaris went big. The  guns are bigger, the explosions are bigger and the breasts were pretty big to begin with. Not deterred in the slightest by trivial things such as the absence of budget, talent, or plot, Picasso Trigger bursts at the seams with unparallelled enthusiasm and gusto. Peroxide blondes Dona Speir and Hope Marie Carlton return as ditzy federal agents Donna Hamilton and (still surname-less) Taryn from The Agency (the details of which won't be forthcoming until, at least, 7 episodes from now) and frequently threaten to burst out of their candy-colored bikinis at any given moment. Donna and Taryn are still clothing-averse and prone to breaking out the big guns (both literal and figurative) whenever Moloka’i or Hawaii at large is threatened by the criminal element. Andy Sidaris, like any redblooded male, categorically loves beautiful women, big guns, explosions and bare breasts. His Girls, Guns, and G-Strings series combined everything he loved into one. Picasso Trigger and the Sidaris canon is entertaining when it remains lighthearted and fun. If you enjoyed Hard Ticket to Hawaii (1987) this will be right up your alley.

After the events of Hard Ticket to Hawaii (1987) Donna and Taryn are out snorkeling on a well-deserved vacation. Meanwhile in Paris, France – complete with stock footage from the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe – Salazar (John Aprea) is donating a multi-million Picasso Trigger painting to the Musée des beaux-arts de la ville de Paris as a token of gratitude. On the steps outside of the museum he is gunned down. The assassination is part of an elaborate retaliatory scheme masterminded by druglord Miguel Ortiz (Rodrigo Obregón) to avenge the death of his associate Seth Romero in the preceding movie. LETHAL senior operative L.G. Abilene (Guich Koock) sets up an investigation acquiring the services of Donna and Taryn, Edy Stark (Cynthia Brimhall), his son Travis Abilene (Steve Bond), and trusted The Agency associate Jade (Harold Diamond), who works at Sea Life Park.

Assisting the LETHAL team is the Professor (Patrick LePore) who, just like in Hard Ticket to Hawaii (1987), comes bearing gadgets: a boomerang and a remote controlled racing car both, of course, set with explosives. In tow are Playboy Playmates Liv Lindeland (January 1971), and Roberta Vasquez (November 1984) as Inga and Paris liaison Pantera, respectively. At one point Inga asks the Professor, “do you want a Danish?” after which the Professor starts to untangle her bikini top, apparently oblivious (together with director Andy Sidaris, no doubt) to the fact that Lindeland hails from Norway, not Denmark, after which the famous pastry is named. It's the Professor who utters “killing is an art form”, the movie’s tagline.

Caught up in their own little action-filled subplot, one worthy of a 1970s Jess Franco production, are Playboy Playmates Kym Malin (May 1982) and Patty Duffek (May 1984) as a burlesque line dancing duo Kym & Patticakes. The routine is, of course, part of a deep undercover operation to apprehend a number of local gangsters, their ringleader Charles Patterson (Roy Summersett) and his second-in-command Schiavo (Nicholas Georgiade, as Nick Georgiade). Patterson and Schiavo promise the duo fame and fortune, but Kym and Patticakes remain focused on their mission objective. Upon completion of their mission, the girls relax and take their tops off… or frequently much earlier than that. Not that anybody in particular is complaining.

Perhaps more than any other episode before or since Picasso Trigger takes plenty of time fleshing out (which in Andy Sidaris tradition should be taken quite literally) the various amorous liaisons. Abilene the younger is initially courted by Spanish vixen Pantera, while he's still pursuing Donna. Feelings that Hamilton is all too eager to reciprocitate. In accordance with Abilene family tradition Travis can’t shoot straight no matter how close, or far, he is to his target. He doesn’t drive a red 1981 De Lorean DMC 12, but a 1981 Ferrari 308 GTSi, while he carries his firearm in a cow-skinned briefcase. Travis too lives on a Malibu Express (1985) houseboat. Travis is apparently okay, or unaware, that Donna hooked up with that other Abilene beefcake Rowdy earlier. “I don't have a jealous bone in my body,” Donna says when Travis explains his liaisons with Pantera, “check it out” as she drops her gown.

Taryn shares the jacuzzi with Hondo (Bruce Penhall) who asks her to stay over the weekend. An offer she declines because she’s a professional and she’s “on assignment.” A few scenes later Taryn is seen hooking up with golf-loving Jimmy-John (Wolf Larson). Jade and an agent become an item during the mission. The only relation to carry any emotional-narrative weight is the Pantera-Donna-Travis triangle. Donna quite comically solves the problem by shooting a harpoon at Pantera - who in the interim has revealed to be an enemy operative - the exit wound of which ends up, of course, right between her oversized breasts. Both Bruce Penhall and Roberta Vasquez would become regulars in the franchise in the following  years. Vasquez remains modest through out much of Picasso Trigger, offering plenty of deep cleavage, or the occassional sideboob. It wouldn’t be until Do or Die (1991), Hard Hunted (1993), and Fit to Kill (1993) that she showed off her considerable assets, albeit as a different, more benevolent character. The criminally underused Liv Lindeland would return as a different character in Guns (1990). Lindeland unfortunately never quite made it to the regular main cast.

Steve Bond was a television actor mostly remembered for his parts in General Hospital (1983-1986) and Santa Barbara (1989-1990). Bond would famously cross paths with sometime Tinto Brass muse Debora Caprioglio, or Paprika (1991) herself, in the Sergio Martino erotic thriller The Smile of the Fox (1992). Martial artist Keith Cooke (who appears as Keith Hirabayashi) - who would go on to portray Reptile in Mortal Kombat (1995), Chance O'Brien in Albert Pyun's Heatseeker (1995), and Sub-Zero in the famously disastrous Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)  – makes a serviceable turn as a wise-cracking goon, especially when he tries to kill Donna and Taryn with a model airplane, and is, quite literally, blown to pieces with a rocket launcher for his trouble. After Picasso Trigger Kym Malin went on to play a bit part as a hostage in the Bruce Willis action hit Die Hard (1988) and that of a party girl in the Patrick Swayze action flick Road House (1989).

Bruce Penhall was in the Ruggero Deodato slasher BodyCount (1986) prior to becoming part of Andy-verse. John Aprea was in Bullitt (1968) with Steve McQueen, The Godfather: Part II (1974) with Al Pacino, and The Game (1997) with Michael Douglas and Sean Penn, among other credits. Harold Diamond would portray the stick fighter in the Sylvester Stallone epic Rambo III (1988). Dennis Alexio played a bit part in the Jean-Claude van Damme martial arts romp Kickboxer (1989). Hope Marie Carlton went on to play a dialog – and clothing-free bit part in A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) alongside a young Jennifer Rubin, and in the Albert Pyun martial arts stinker Bloodmatch (1991) with Thom Mathews. Still pooling talent from Playboy, and Penthouse centerfolds unfortunately Sidaris never saw it fit to offer Angelfist (1993) star Melissa Moore a role. Clearly Sidaris had a very specific beauty standard upon which he based his casting choices.

Hope Marie Carlton, Cynthia Brimhall, Liv Lindeland, and Roberta Vasquez show some semblance of acting skill, while Dona Speir, Patty Duffek, and Kym Malin stand out for all the wrong reasons. John Aprea, Rodrigo Obregón, Keith Cooke, and Nicholas Georgiade act better than what you’d usually expect in an Andy Sidaris production. Helping slightly in differentiating between Speir and Carlton is that Sidaris has now conveniently color-coded them, with Speir and Carlton wearing pink and green outfits respectively. Steve Bond is less of a leading man than Darby Hinton and Ronn Moss were, but to compensate he gets to roll in the hay with Dona Speir and Roberta Vasquez. The minimal plot is merely pretext for a series of tangentially related setpieces mostly revolving around scandily-clad women, big guns, and bigger explosions. Picasso Trigger knows what it is, and never professes to be anything else. An Andy Sidaris production is free from the usual rules that apply to low budget action movies of this kind - and, as would become clear the farther the franchise, well, not progressed so much as continued to exist - sometimes even old Andy didn't know how to make sense of the rules he set. In the Andy-verse there are usually two solutions to whatever problem the protagonists happen to face. One involves disproportionate guns, funny quips/one-liners and stuff blowing up in the most ridiculous way possible. The other is naked breasts, preferably a multitude of them and from a variety of Playboy and Penthouse models.

As with any early installment from the Girls, Guns, and G-Strings series it's clear that everybody was out to have a good time. From the bright, sunny beach locations, to the skimpy candy-colored bikinis, the ridiculous spy gadgets, and the abundance of bodacious babes in minimal fabric – Andy Sidaris aims for fun. One has to be completely heartless not to crack a smile at the sheer preposterousness of the affair. The explosions match the breasts in size, and when the girls fail to say their lines believably, Sidaris has them taking their tops off, often repeatedly. As history would come to show, bigger is always better in the Andy-verse. While the breasts might grow in size disproportionately as sequels followed, none of them would be quite the fun-filled romps that were Hard Ticket to Hawaii (1987) and Picasso Trigger. There may be many producers and directors that are better writers, better technicians, just better overall – but it remains debatable whether they are able to provide the same amount of fun per capita as Andy Sidaris and his team.

A number of the Florida death metal old guard have come back with some of their strongest records in many years. Morbid Angel, Monstrosity, and now Deicide. For largely incomprehensible reasons Deicide has long been enshrined as a legend. Despite having been mired in mediocrity for about two decades Deicide is for some unfathomable reason still considered important irrespective of the great majority of their output being actively mediocre or even hostile to the listener. Deicide made a name for themselves through blood drenched early performances, the usage of “god-deflecting” armor and outlandish statements from their larger-than-life frontman Glen Benton. There’s no contesting that both “Deicide” and “Legion” are worth every accolade bestowed on them. The post-Hoffman years have yielded exactly one classic record with 2006's “The Stench Of Redemption”. However, “The Stench Of Redemption”, lest we forget, was little more than “Serpents Of the Light” with overly shredding and flowery solos courtesy of the late virtuoso Ralph Santolla and Jack Owen. The Sunshine State’s most enduring enfant terrible hasn’t been controversial nor incendiary to any degree in a long, long time. “Overtures Of Blasphemy”, their twelfth record overall, is largely similar to the albums surrounding it. Above all else Deicide has become shockingly efficient at producing consistent albums, even if they are seldom very inspired.

All things considered Deicide have done good for themselves. Granted the days of Deicide epitomizing the ultimate evil are long gone. The post-Hoffman years haven’t exactly been kind to them, nor have they been one of great innovation. Not that the Hoffman brothers have been faring any better on their own, mind. In comparison, Eric and Brian have since their departure in 2004 released “Liar In Wait” with their Amon in 2012. Amon played a grand total of 2 shows in 2017, their only 2 shows since reforming a decade prior. They also have been attempting to crowdfund a second album, campaigns that have proven unsuccessful. At least since 1995’s “Once Upon the Cross” Deicide has adopted an unbelievably streamlined and mercifully compact writing style that plays up to the rather limited abilities of its weakest, most iconic member. Glen Benton is a lot of things but he’s not a good performer. His abilities as a bass guitarist remain forever dubious and the wear-and-tear of 30 years of international touring and the irrevocable passage of time have taken their toll on his vocal cords. The voice of Legion these days sounds suspiciously like Max Cavalera. Since the joining of guitarist Kevin Quirion in 2008 that writing style has been pushed to its logical conclusion. “Overtures Of Blasphemy” is but a variation of “To Hell With God” and “In the Minds Of Evil”. Thankfully it is slightly more ambitious and marginally more hungry sounding.

That Deicide no longer possesses an inch of the character and zest they once held is a truism at this point. Truthfully, they should have split up years ago. Asheim would feel right at home in Malevolent Creation and Benton could finally stop pretending that he actually still cares. “Overtures Of Blasphemy” is better than the last two Deicide albums and far more enjoyable than the two Vital Remains albums on which Benton appeared, but how much does that say exactly? Not much. Somehow, some way Deicide has survived two career slumps on as much labels. While little more than an extension of “To Hell With God” and “In the Minds Of Evil” there’s a fire on “Overtures Of Blasphemy” that has been absent from the band’s output since “The Stench Of Redemption”. Deicide, age and overall redundancy notwithstanding, has found purpose and focus again, it seems. Not that this album will be going down the history books as vitally important or as a new classic anytime soon. Not much of what Deicide has released in the last decade qualifies as such. “Overtures Of Blasphemy” won’t be dethroning “The Stench Of Redemption” as a modern day classic in any shape or form. Deicide is not the band to expect any profound artistic statements from. In the modern age Deicide is all about efficiency instead of artistry. Deicide has elevated to functionality to an artform. “Overtures Of Blasphemy” is the embodiment of functionality, if nothing else.

Compared to their Gibsonton brethren in Obituary, Deicide’s latter-day output has a charm all its own. It possesses a mad thrashing energy that was largely absent in the twilight Hoffman – and Ralph Santolla years. The addition of Kevin Quirion allowed the melodic inclinations that the late Santolla introduced to become an integral part of the sound. Deicide’s third lead guitar tandem Kevin Quirion and Mark English might prove to be their most versatile. Neither Quirion nor English lose themselves in excessive showboating the way Ralph Santolla was often prone to. Stylistically “Overtures Of Blasphemy” shows a few overlaps with “Serpents Of the Light” in how bare-bones and minimal most of its songs are in terms of structure and length. 4 songs barely reach the 3-minute mark, the remainder barely cross the 3-minute mark. No song even reaches 4 minutes. The longest track on the record is ‘One with Satan’ that clocks in at an economic 3:47. Deicide hasn’t penned another ‘Homage For Satan’, ‘When Heaven Burns’, ‘Creatures Of Habit’ or ‘Kill the Christian’ and likely “Overtures Of Blasphemy” won’t yield any new classics. Which isn’t to say that “Overtures Of Blasphemy” isn’t catchy. It is. At 38 minutes it’s one of the longer Deicide offerings in recent memory. It swings, it thrashes and grooves in ways that only modern Deicide can. Will anybody remember this record in years to come? No, “Overtures Of Blasphemy” is barely a blip on the radar.

In the decade and a half since the Hoffman brothers were exiled Deicide has proven resilient and prolific in face of having somewhat of a revolving door in terms of guitarists. Never one to push their chosen genre forward Deicide has always been willing and able to follow whatever prevailing aesthetic trend of the day. “Overtures Of Blasphemy” sports a canvas from from Polish designer Zbigniew M. Bielak, famous for Dimmu Borgir’s “Eonian’”, and it’s significant for being the first in some 17 years to feature the long absent Trifixion. It’s a nice little touch that ultimately means nothing. In the 21st century Deicide has embraced its regressive tendencies and the limitations of Florida death metal as a style. They were one of the first to fall to the wayside when death metal experienced an evolutionary jump at the dawn of the millennium and now some 18 years later Deicide has made its robust, rudimentary approach its ultimate and only selling point. What is a band to do when they are no longer deemed controversial nor incendiary in the way that they used to? They settle into a comfortable groove. On “Overtures Of Blasphemy” Deicide is clearly comfortable with their station in life. In all honesty, we prefer this over some of the atrocities they committed to in the past.