One of the mag­i­cal expe­ri­ences in schlock film­mak­ing is see­ing a throw­away film that catch­es you off-guard with its sense of adven­ture.  Even if a film is ground out pure­ly for prof­it motives, it can be exhil­a­rat­ing if the right blends of ener­gy, gut­ter­snipe inven­tion and like­able cast mem­bers are involved.  Fly Me is a good exam­ple of what hap­pens when the right ele­ments fall togeth­er in a quick­ie: it’s daft and it’s cheap but it’s also paced like a bul­let train and full of unpre­dictable enter­tain­ment for the schlock fiend.

Fly Me was an ear­ly attempt by New World Pictures to trans­pose its nurse flick for­mu­la — sim­ply put, an ensem­ble dra­ma built around three female leads with plen­ty of sex and soap opera plot­ting — to anoth­er set­ting.  In the case of Fly Me, nurs­es are replaced with stew­ardess­es, pre­sum­ably in an attempt to cash in on the suc­cess of the 3-D, X-rat­ed hit The Stewardesses.  The facts that it was shot in the Philippines (stand­ing in for both China and Japan at dif­fer­ent times) and fea­tures a hand­ful of sce­nes with the then-hot ele­ment of kung fu fights just add extra spice to this over­heat­ed com­bo.

These are the basic plot threads set up by screen­writer Miller Drake: Toby (Pat Anderson) is the new stew­ardess who wants to get frisky with a hot-to-trot doc­tor (Richard Young) but is con­stant­ly frus­trat­ed by the pres­ence of her med­dling Italian-American moth­er (Naomi Stevens).  Meanwhile, vet­er­an stewardess/kung-fu enthu­si­ast Andrea (Lenore Kasdorf) is baf­fled when her Hong Kong boyfriend has sud­den­ly dis­ap­peared and she finds her­self trailed by mar­tial arts thugs.  She’s also got to deal with the atten­tions of a mys­te­ri­ous new would-be suit­or Chiang (Pat Munzon). Finally, Sherry (Lyllah Torena) is involved in a drug smug­gling ring but finds her­self cap­tured when she skims off the top and in dan­ger of becom­ing a sex slave.

In oth­er words, this is one crazy hodge­podge of exploita­tion-flick ele­ments.  Toby’s plot thread plays like an episode of a sit­com spiced up with R-rat­ed nudi­ty, Andrea’s plot thread plays like a hasti­ly assem­bled cash-in on the kung-fu movie trend (com­plete with hasti­ly assem­bled action sce­nes) and Sherry’s plot thread seems to have wan­dered in from a rougher, mean­er sex­ploita­tion film.  On the lat­ter note, the final reel that brings every­thing togeth­er goes full sleazeploita­tion, feel­ing like the dénoue­ment from some­thing Lee Frost and Bob Cresse might have dreamt up.

This whiplash-induc­ing cock­tail of low humor, cheese­cake, awful kung-fu and roughie-style S&M ele­ments shouldn’t work… but some­how, it man­ages to play like gang­busters.  The mad­cap tone-shift­ing and adren­a­l­ized pace of the script ensures that the audi­ence is always kept on its feet, won­der­ing what goof­ball flour­ish will hit them next, and Cirio Santiago’s patent­ed speedy, no-frills style of direc­tion just ampli­fies the­se qual­i­ties.  It helps that he max­i­mizes the film’s pro­duc­tion val­ue by using the Philippines to pic­turesque effect.  In fair­ness, a lit­tle cred­it must go to a young Jonathan Demme, who shot (but didn’t chore­o­graph) those wacky fight sce­nes, includ­ing a pret­ty hilar­i­ous one that fea­tures a blind blow-dart assas­s­in(!).

It also helps that the cast is quite like­able.  Anderson shows a gen­uine skill for light com­e­dy, Kasdorf offers a solid dra­mat­ic turn in the most seri­ous of the plot threads and skin-flick vet­er­an Torena is suit­ably unin­hib­it­ed in a role that requires to be end­less­ly bedev­iled while top­less.  Young makes a solid roman­tic lead, show­ing a nice chem­istry with Anderson, and even Stevens’ shame­less mug­ging ulti­mate­ly becomes charm­ing, even though she sounds more Jewish than Italian.  New World fans should also keep an eye out for a fun cameo from Dick Miller as a randy cab dri­ver and Santiago reg­u­lars Ken Metcalfe and Vic Diaz sleaz­ing it up in sup­port­ing roles.

Simply put, Fly Me is the kind of goof­ball exploita­tion quick­ie that wins you over in spite of your bet­ter judge­ment — and if you’re will­ing to fol­low along with its spur-of-the-moment sur­pris­es, it can be wild­ly enter­tain­ing.  Gather togeth­er some like-mind­ed trash­fiends for the best effect… by the end, you’ll prob­a­bly all be hoot­ing and hol­ler­ing at its go-for-broke approach to skin, sin and cheap laughs.