||It's summertime, summertime, sum-sum-summertime. summert-i-i-i-i-i-me. And what does that mean at the Stately Estate? Beach movies, of course. However, as much as I admire Eric VonZipper (and Annette--madone!), I'm not going to be the 1462nd writer to chronicle the usual seaside epics: Here at M-O-M we favor high-tide-and-homocide features over surf-and-sand shows.
If you too enjoyed Humanoids From The Deep, get your fins on its precursor The Horror Of Party Beach (1964). Ocean-dumped radioactive waste seeps out of its barrel and coats skeletons from a convenient sunken ship to create amphibious whatzits--hey, it's plausible!--who have a special taste for the 18-35 demographic. Thereafter, the fanged thangs do their best to rid Long Island of its gainfully unemployed, ripping into irresponsible tease Tina, dames out after dark without a chaperone, a bevy of sorority broads expecting "those boys from Chi Psi" to bop by the coeds' slumber party, drunksh who shlur their wordsh and an assortment of other future yuppies.
Unfortunately, the saltwater slaughterers fail to invade the home of Master William Joel, grade-school pianist. To counterbalance that disappointment, though, Director Del Tenney treats us to bikers gangstomping the squeaky-clean "good guy" within the very first ten minutes. (If only this was shot in Virtual Reality so we could all join in.) Plus, there's the musical styling of the dynamic Del-Aires for your dancing and dying pleasure.
If that's not enough, wait until you get an eye-and earful of the maid. Yes, she's a roly-poly, eyebugging Negress; yes, she is stereotypically named Eulabelle; and, yes, she says things like "It's da voodoo, I tell ya." No wonder Watts got torched! Now, this shocking racism isn't the least bit cool, mind you; nonetheless, it does have a glimmer of redeeming value in that it will drive the PC Posse straight into cardiac arrest.
Gaffebusters, keep a close eye on the newspapers flashing onscreen. After the first death, the secondary lead story is "Panic In New York; Menagerie Breaks Loose." Two days later, following the slumber party mass murder, the secondary lead is..."Panic In New York; Menagerie Breaks Loose." More amazing still, this very same subhead can also be seen in Bloodsucking Freaks (1978). Will someone in the Big Apple replace the friggin' zoo lock already?
Recommended even higher than HOPB is Beach Girls And The Monster (1965) starring Jon Hall in his directorial debut--and finale. But you say you'll miss the Del-Aires? Not to worry, Murray, the music here is provided by none other than Young Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra, Junior...and we all know how many chart-toppers he's penned.
Hall, something of a hunk in Forties South Seas romance pics, plays obsessed Otto Lindsay, an oceanographer with pressing domestic problems. Son Rich would rather surf than follow his father's fish-filing footsteps. (Gasp! The nerve of some children.) Also moping around the cod counter's casa is Mark, saddled with a bum leg due to Rich's reckless driving.
And then there's vavavoom Vicky, the second Mrs. Lindsay, a classic Cocktail-Sipping, Seductress Stepmother complete with Bourbon Street bluesy theme song. The wedding rice hardly out of her hair, Mrs. L. could teach Runaround Sue a thing or two, I'll tell you.
As if a household full of headaches isn't stressful enough, those damn fun-lovers have the audacity to crowd the beach outside of Otto's lab. Why aren't these goldbrickers in Nam where they belong? When the understanding sheriff explains that the traditional 27-year-old Hollywood teenagers are simply "trying to find themselves", Otto cynically sneers, "They'll 'find themselves' in your jail one day." (And Pop can't understand why Rich wants to move to Hawaii.)
Fortunately for the fish freak, an oceanic terrornaut begins bumping off the beach boys and bunnies. Typical of the era's herd mentality, Mark is immediately fingered as the prime suspect because, after all, he's not "normal." This is Southern California, pal, where physical imperfection will NOT be tolerated. (You may have thought Otto was a bastard, but by this point Manormaniacs should be clearly pulling for the monster. You go, Gill.)
Beach Girls has a load of mystical moments, far too many to detail in the confines of this column.Oh, all right, I'll mention a few: a magical guitar switches from an acoustic to an electric tone as need be and even plays itself while being passed to another strummer; foreshadowing picture-in-a-picture TV technology (and creatively padding the running time), Rich and Mark watch a full reel of 8mm surfing footage--and we watch them watch it; and, a particularly cell-altering performance of that London Philharmonic favorite, The Monster From The Surf (the film's alternate title.)
In this mesmerizing melodic interlude, Rich's girlfriend co-conducts a sing-along with a peculiar-looking fellow donning a hand puppet (!), silly hat and clip-on beard. Why the goofy get-up? So you wouldn't recognize the crooner as Walker Edmiston, the actor portraying Mark!!!
The Horror Of Party Beach and Beach Girls And The Monster: Who says there ain't no cure for the summertime blues?
There's a boatload of junkfilm reviews--most illustrated in the crazy new COLOR medium!--at ManorOnMovies.com. You are invited.