The Tiki War

"Mad Men" meets "Breaking Bad" in this film noir set in a tiki bar in 1961 Chicago. Three competing nightclub owners and two luckless entertainers battle over honor, territory, heroin and Cuba's most potent rum.

  • John Ervin
    Citizen 'Caine, Vixen Highway, Made in Berlin, Proinhibition
  • John Ervin
    Citizen 'Caine, Vixen Highway, Made in Berlin, Proinhibition
  • Rina Kurtz
    The Coffee Shop Wars, Rosecrans Blvd
  • John Ervin
    Citizen 'Caine, Vixen Highway, Made in Berlin, Proinhibition
  • Guy Messenger
    Key Cast
    Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Sdanka's War
  • Rachel Grubb
    Key Cast
    Citizen 'Caine, The Bitch That Cried Wolf
  • Helen Chorolec
    Key Cast
    The Public Domain, Into Temptation
  • Steve Wothe
    Key Cast
    Spirits of Saint Paul, A Serious Man
  • Scott Carson
    Key Cast
    Citizen 'Caine, Spirits of Saint Paul
  • Ryan Kron Thompson
    Citizen 'Caine
  • Melissa Pritchett
    Production Designer
    Citizen 'Caine, Dear White People
  • Kevin Milloy
    Citizen 'Caine
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    42 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    October 1, 2014
  • Production Budget:
    15,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Red Scarlet
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Minneapolis Underground Film Festival
    Minneapolis, MN
    October 1, 2014
    World Premiere
  • Landmark Century Centre Cinema
    Chicago, IL
    October 9, 2014
  • The Online Film Festival
    January 1, 2015
  • MIA (Mostra Internacional de Amozonia)
    Manaus, Amazonas
    May 10, 2015
    South American Premiere
  • Underground FilmFest
    Munich, Germany
    June 25, 2015
    European Premiere
  • Cinema Wasteland
    Cleveland, OH
    April 9, 2015
  • The Trylon
    Minneapolis, MN
    March 12, 2015
  • On The Line Film Festival
    Saint Paul, MN
    August 5, 2015
    Best Feature Comedy
  • Central Cinema
    Seattlle, WA
    June 29, 2015
    Pacific Northwest Premiere
  • Online International Film Festival
    July 20, 2015
  • Wiper Film Festival
    New York, NY
    November 6, 2015
  • South East Film Festival
    Winterville, NC
    October 1, 2015
    North Carolina Premiere
  • The Indie Film Festival
    October 4, 2015
    Swiss Premiere
  • Dragon Dreaming FIlm Festival
    Wee Jasper, New South Wales, Australia
    October 23, 2015
    Australian Premiere
  • Broken Knuckle Film Festival
    United States
    November 6, 2015
  • Film Fest International: London
    London, UK
    February 18, 2016
    UK Premiere
    Winner - Best Supporting Actress: Rachel Grubb
  • Fan Boy Film Festival
    Ladera Ranch, CA
    United States
    June 1, 2016
  • Cameroon Underground FilmFest
    May 29, 2016
  • Ozark Shorts Monthly Film Screening Series
    Lamar, MO
    United States
    June 29, 2016
    Mountain Daredevil
  • IndieWise Film Festival
    South Beach, FL
    United States
    September 11, 2016
  • AVIFF Cannes Art Film Festival
    Saint Raphael
    September 24, 2016
  • Real Time Film Festival
    October 3, 2016
  • Fresh Meet International Film Festival
    January 22, 2017
    Equator Premiere
  • Mediterranean Film Festival
    March 5, 2017
  • Nišville Jazz Festival and Movie Summit
    August 7, 2017
  • AM Egypt Film Festival
    August 28, 2017
    Egypt Premiere
  • The Trylon
    United States
    April 19, 2018
  • WideScreen Film and Music Video Festival
    Las Vegas
    United States
    September 26, 2019
Director Biography - John Ervin

John Ervin is the award-winning director of seven films and four live theater productions in his home state of Minnesota. His first movie, the German expressionist feature "Made in Berlin" was shot on 16mm black-and-white in Minneapolis in 1998. His second feature, the Russ Meyer tribute "Vixen Highway" was shot throughout rural and urban Minnesota in 2000 and won awards for Best International Director and Best International Supporting Player (for actor Charles Hubbell). The futuristic dominatrix-rehab fable, "Proinhibition", followed in 2003 and has been shown at CineKink of New York and Sexy Film Fest of Australia. "Citizen 'Caine", his 2013 chronicle of a coke-addicted father's search for his missing daughter in the underbelly of Hollywood, was featured at festivals in the US, UK, Canada, Mexico, India and the Dominican Republic. His most recent narrative work is "The Tiki War", a "Mad Men"-era noir film set in a tiki bar in 1961 Chicago, which has been presented at festivals in Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, India, Egypt and Brazil. It also won Best Supporting Actress Award for Rachel Grubb at Film Fest International-London. Two documentaries, one on the Republican National Convention in 2008 and the other on the Minnesota Tea Party in 2010, were interspersed with four live theater productions for the Minnesota Fringe Festival, including "I Never Knock" and "The Devil Wears 9/11". John holds a BA in Film from San Francisco State University and a certificate in Web Design from Minneapolis Community Technical College. He has also written on movies, politics and entertainment for the Minneapolis-based publications City Pages and The Rake.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

My career has consistently combined the down-to-earth aspects of history and current events with the psychedelic sensibilities of midnight movies. My current film, "The Tiki War", for instance, deals with five "expatriates" from Cuba stranded in 1961 Chicago. These three desperate nightclub owners and two luckless entertainers are not from Cuba, but are Americans who once thrived in Havana when it was an adult playground run by dictator Fulgencio Batista. On the eve of President Kennedy's inauguration, these five plot to invade the island and return Havana to its former greatness.

This is just the latest of my films to connect politics with prurience. My first feature, the German expressionist "Made in Berlin", the shooting for which took place in 1997, concerned a senator whose affair with a politically ambitious femme fatale nearly causes his personal and professional ruin. This storyline prefigured the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal that emerged the following year.

"Vixen Highway", my second feature, leaned thematically on midnight movies and exploitation films, particularly the works of Russ Meyer. Nonetheless, this movie's MacGuffin - an illegal donor liver transported by competing bands of low-lifes to the house of an ailing rock star - was a humorous reflection on outrage, expressed in the media at the time of the film's production in 2000, over self-destructive celebrities being pushed to the top of organ recipient lists.

In 2003, I explored the subjects of chemical dependency and rehabilitation in my futuristic short "Proinhibition". Here, a treatment center in the year 2050 houses recovery groups based not on people's addictions, but their professions. The most notable of these is a support group for dominatrixes. This includes the main character, Mistress Maggie M., who is dragged in for involuntary treatment at the center run by the actively alcoholic Dr Rich S. With this sardonic work, I raised questions about the outdated and ineffective processes of addiction treatment - something the world certainly needs, but which also needs improvement.

Cinema and civics take equal amounts of space in my 2013 film "Citizen 'Caine". Insurance salesman Lou Phillips suffers an addiction not only to cocaine, but to the cinema of Nicolas Cage. Lou and two characters from the porno/home-maintenance movie studio whose production he interrupts - director Sir John Blunstone and security guard Ratan - are veterans of the Desert Storm, Falkland Islands and Iraq Wars, respectively. The studio's name, Deep Horizons, reflects the 2010 natural and corporate calamity involving oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

With my continuing observation of political forces around the world and, especially, my continuing enjoyment of the cinema of the weird, I plan to author many more "sociological midnight movies". "The Tiki War" will hopefully carry on this self-made tradition.