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  Horror of Party Beach, The Up From The DepthsBuy this film here.
Year: 1964
Director: Del Tenney
Stars: John Scott, Alice Lyon, Alan Laurel, Eulabelle Moore, Marilyn Clarke, Augustin Mayor, Damon Keybroyd, Munroe Wade, Carol Grubman, Dina Harris, Emily Laurel, Sharon Murphy, Diane Prizio
Genre: Horror, Trash
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Hank Green (John Scott) and his girlfriend Tina (Marilyn Clarke) are driving down to the beach, but Tina is too busy getting drunk and waving at Hell's Angels to be bothered about how Hank is feeling. When they arrive at the beach, they have an argument where she points out to Hank that she's sick of him being wrapped up in work at the laboratory, and he points out that life isn't a non-stop party. Regardless, she goes dancing to the swinging sound of the Del-Aires who are playing at the beach while Elaine Gavin (Alice Lyon), daughter of Hanks' boss, approaches to make sure he's all right. As this is happening, out to sea the radioactive waste that has been recently dumped has contaminated the ocean life, and there will be a terrible price to pay for this enviromental disaster...

Not to be confused with The Beach Girls and the Monster, which only had one measly monster compared to this film's handful, this was a Connecticut-filmed low budget shocker brought to us by producer and director Del Tenney, who was busy in the movie business around this time. A more accurate title might have been The Horror of Party Forest, as after the opening twenty minutes not much of the action takes place at the beach, but as it stands the title they went with probably went down better with potential audiences who are lulled into a false sense of security by those sun, sea and sand frolics and rocking music. It must be pointed out that the monsters don't even finish their mouthful of hot dogs before they begin dining on the cast.

Displaying an uncanny self awareness, the Del-Aires perform a song called "Zombie Stomp", and have you noticed that songs in horror films tend towards having appropriate lyrics for the doom at hand? There's even a dance that goes along with the song that predates the Michael Jackson Thriller video by almost twenty years. Anyway, the film was scripted by Richard Hilliard to a template that is also forward-looking, anticpating the slasher boom of the late seventies and early eighties (and yeah, OK, the late nineties as well). This resemblance is mostly down to the way that seemingly extraneous characters are introduced simply to be killed off by the villains until the good guys can work out a way of destroying the threat. Not only that but there are a whole collection of jokes (perhaps they thought the mood needed lightening) that seem like rejects from the future Laugh-In. Ahead of its time, then? Well, nearly.

You'll notice that The Horror of Party Beach doesn't have a particularly cosmopolitan cast, and in fact the only black face belongs to the Doctor's maid Eulabelle (Eulabelle Moore - just about everyone in the cast repeatedly calls her by name), who apparently attended the Hattie McDaniel school of acting, appearing, as she does, to have stepped right out of the nineteen-thirties. However, it is in this voodoo-doll owning (really) figure that the day is saved, because she accidentally spills sodium over the severed hand of one of the monsters and thereby discovers their weakness. This film does have a noticeably high body count, which is sensationalised in setpiece sequences with bunches of extras and bit part actors being clawed to death, and a curious section where a montage of women being drained of blood is superimposed over clips of an office and some bloke walking beside a building. Dynamic! Yes, it is daft, it is cheesy, it isn't exciting, but it has a certain verve and enthusiasm that keeps the whole affair afloat.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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