October 12th, 2012
|06:24 pm - 31 Days of Halloween: The Beach Girls and the Monster|
Now this is more like it.
The Beach Girls and the Monster would have been perfect fodder for Mystery Science Theater 3000, though as far as I can tell, they never riffed on it. It's a horror film! It's a beach party movie! It's a variety show! It's a murder mystery! It's not very good!
But it is fun, I guess. Beach party movies were a Thing in the early '60s, though people my age are blissfully unaware of them. They were cute, innocuous diversions for teenagers, and were filled with bikinis, surf music, love triangles and cookouts. And white kids. Holy wow, are those movies white. There are good beach party movies and bad ones, but it's a dead genre because none of them had much substance. They
suffered enjoyed a brief resurrection in the '80s as raunchy screwball comedies like Beach Fever and Big Breasted Girls Go To the Beach and Take Their Tops Off, but if you haven't seen these, you're not missing anything. Singing cowboy movies are much more deserving of a comeback, and nobody wants to see another one of those, either.
The Beach Girls and the Monster opens on the beach, where kids are dancing to rock and/or roll, roasting hot dogs, makin' out, and generally having a good time. One of the girls wastes some food and starts acting like a tease, which is probably to turn the audience against her so that we don't care a few minutes later when she gets mauled by a rubber-suit monster with googly eyes. The police show up and question the other kids. Nobody saw it happen, but the footprints leading away from the corpse are large and an unusual shape. People start whispering that the murderer might've been some kinda monster...
The police consult the film's director, veteran character actor Jon Hall [pause for applause] in his last film appearance [pause for applause] as the marine biologist, Dr. Otto Lindsay. Lindsay says that the casting made from one of the footprints looks like it may have been made by a mutated South American "fantigua fish". I looked it up, and a fantigua is another name for barracuda. Dr. Lindsay is disgusted with all those "bums and tramps" on the beach, and he thinks that this would be an excellent excuse for his son Richard to stop hanging out with them and start getting to work on Being a Serious Scientist. Richard has a strained relationship with the adults in his life. His father is a workaholic who doesn't approve of fun. His stepmother Vicky is a whore, and every time she's onscreen, somebody stops just short of telling her that: "Vicky! You're an ungodly wh- What I mean is, you're acting like a b- oh, Vicky, you make me so mad!"
There's also sculptor named Mark who is using all the girls in a ten mile radius as models. None of their boyfriends/husbands mind.
Anyway, the monster murders more kids. Vicky leads Mark on and jilts him, and then gets herself strangled. Mark becomes a suspect, but we know he's not the real murderer. There's a stupid surprise ending, and the surprise actually explains why the monster looks so cheap.
Like most of the best monster movies, this one is bad but fun. There are places where the action stops for two minutes to show us bikini-clad babes shaking their assets, and there's a confounding campfire scene which resembles a variety show: we get a couple of musical numbers, a ventriloquism act, and a whole bunch of Laugh-In-style sight gags, as if they were trying to satisfy a bullet-point list of different demographics. What were they trying to do? Who were they trying to please? I have no idea, but no matter what it sounds like, I actually enjoyed this one. It would make a great Bad Movie Night selection, and I can understand why it has a cult following.
I should also mention that the soundtrack by Frank Sinatra Jr. and some guy named Chuck Sagle is especially good. I'm not crazy about surf music, but I'd like a copy of these songs. Not so much that I'm willing to spend more than a couple of minutes hunting them down, but... they're good.
Anyway, here's the trailer.
...but since it's in the public domain, you might as well watch the whole movie.